We’ve talked a lot lately about translation technology: how it’s rapidly evolving, providing a wealth of efficiencies and revolutionizing the localization industry. The conversation continues in a recent Globally Speaking podcast episode that points out some of the stumbling blocks—and provides answers on removing tech barriers and getting stakeholders to focus on the bigger productivity and quality picture.
The tech trio
Hosts Renato Beninatto and Michael Stevens break down the vast array of localization technology into three types:
- Workflow management: these content creation tools are usually Content Management Systems (CMS), Web Content Management Systems (WCMS), authoring tools, and other workflow environments that help the client organize their content and send it to translation.
- Project management: tools designed to manage projects, tasks, teams, and status. These tools include Translation Management Systems (TMS) that have components such as job creation, task assignment, automatic file preparation and analysis, quote generation, vendor invoicing, status tracking, and reporting.
- Translation and terminology management: this group—called Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools—is designed to improve translators’ productivity and consistency. It encompasses Translation Memory (TM), terminology databases, and even free translation tools such as Google Translator Toolkit.
Where they disconnect
It’s impressive that this industry has such a wide variety of technology, with myriad ways to streamline, automate, improve processes, and increase efficiency, right? Well, only if it all gets along.
One of the biggest pain points is that most tools can’t talk to each other, causing more bottlenecks than benefits. There are companies that make CAT tool suites, but know nothing about TMS or CMS—so they wouldn’t be able to integrate with those systems. Others only offer their own tech, refusing to integrate with other systems at all.
Another compounding issue is that customers may already have purchased and configured one type of tool without thinking about the bigger picture (or perhaps about localization), and now the lofty task of integrating this tool with others for a seamless content creation and localization workflow falls onto the LSP.
What many LSPs and customers also may not realize is that this lack of integration can have a negative impact on productivity and translation quality. As Renato points out, more emphasis should be placed on a linguist’s qualifications, and less on which version of the tool they must use. If the linguist can’t work in a tool they are familiar with, the LSP is either forced to find another, possibly less qualified resource who has the right tool, or they ask the original linguist to work within this new tool and risk declines in productivity and quality. (Ideally, a linguist should be keen and able to learn all industry-standard tools.)
So, with all the tools out there, how do you find high quality resources, but still try to support your customers’ systems?
APIs to the rescue
The solution to the interconnectivity conundrum is to fully embrace APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to build connectors between the technologies. As Renato puts it:
“So the value that I believe modern LSPs bring is the ability to understand and to allow systems to talk to each other. […] If you have to manage 22 different translation memory systems, you’re essentially managing inefficiency. But if you have smart people inside your organization, smart engineers that know how to deal with APIs, it will allow, theoretically, a translator to work with any system that they want that has an API.”
This allows the LSP to be extremely flexible in supporting their customers’ current technology infrastructure—proprietary or otherwise—while customizing a best-fit localization workflow and also supporting a variety of tools that linguists are already familiar with.
Which is why Renato’s motto is: “the best translation memory system in the world is the one that you know how to use.”
How to play nicely together
As the translation tech space keeps expanding, interoperability is key. Michael suggests that customers should not dictate which file format or CAT tool has to be used. Instead, they should let their LSP create the optimum workflow for their needs.
If an LSP is knowledgeable in a lot of different tools and systems, they can custom-build a process that looks at the bigger productivity picture, focusing less on word rates and fuzzy matches, and more on true collaboration and seamless integration. They would be able to create a process that would maximize automation, collaboration, and the features of each tool for all parties involved.
As for the customer, they would reap the benefits of sitting back and letting the localization team, with their expertise in technology, integrations, and process optimization, work their magic.
For more of Renato’s and Michael’s insights (and a little theological debate too), check out the whole episode.