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Keynote Presentation: The On-going Evolution of the Localization Business

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Good morning, I hope to wake you up I hope you did not have too much traffic coming in The topic on my presentation today is evolution in the translation business I love the word evolution because it indicates movement, progress And I think that in the translation and localization industry we are living in very interesting times. I would like to start with a quote from two authors who talk about futurism and forecasting. And one of the great things about this quote is that when you are talking vision, about the future it is very easy to make mistakes If your vision is good and you have a good picture of the future You probably are just describing the present so a lot of the things that I said and I say when I talk about the evolution of the industry I have been very glad to see them happening in the last few weeks This is how fast things are changing So if I go and say things that seem to be fantastic and impossible I am probably wrong but thats ok I can live with that But lets talk a little about evolution and innovation I am fascinated by the topic of innovation, how things change in the world, not only in the translation industry I have been doing a lot of reading and research about this topic One of the things that I found out is that in markets that are very competitive Yesterday Mike Anobile presented some data from the industry some of the data from the industry that I have seen suggests that are probably 5,000 LSPs translation companies around the world so its a very competitive, very dynamic market a market with low barriers to entry, anybody can start a translation company quite easily so in markets that are very competitive like this people don't like to, uhh, embrace change very easily they love the way things are and are very comfortable with the status quo and they feel safe in the way they do business and the things that they do so what has happened in the translation industry essentially for the last 25 years is very little change Things are done the same way over and over again I am a frequent participant to industry conferences and its fascinating how often I hear the same things over and over again and I must say that you in this audience are very lucky because I probably attended some 20 conferences in the last 12 months and this is the first time that I have seen something really different something new, some good interesting technology conversations going on and breakthrough happening you are among the lucky few who are seeing something really different because most of the time when you go to industry conferences all you really hear about is quality uhh quality, uhh quality and sometimes standards and then if you are in Europe you will hear about the EN15038 standard which is a fantastic standard that tells you how do translations the way they were done in 1950 and then you go to Canada and they are having the same conversations talking about establishing standards the same way that they do in Europe so they are going to copy the European standard add some more bureacracy and then you are going to have translations the way you did in in 1949! and we heard yesterday from our colleagues from the TAC (I don't see them here) in China and China wants to imitate exactly the same thing yesterday he told us that they have published 3 translation standards standards for/in services, I am not talking about technology in software standards are very good, they allow for interoperability, they allow communication they allow people to build on common platforms but in the services industry standards are a waste of effort it's trying to make people, everybody do the things the same way and this is not very helpful for our industry because it freezes the way things are done and everybody feels safe because everybody knows what is going to happen everybody knows how things are going to be done but we suffer from several problems because of that and I am going to share with you what are some of these issues One of the things I have identified, and yesterday I confirmed it Age and bad habits really affect the translation industry and when I talk about age, I think that people who leading and driving the conversation in the translation industry are old and there I include myself How many of you here were born after 1984? 1, 2, 3, 4 ... right ... OK you can lie, ladies can lie not too many, so 1984, 25 years old These people who were born after 1984 were born with the internet, they didn't use typewriters they did not use Wordperfect They didn't use, they don't know what Ventura Publisher is They don't know what a 3½ floppy disk is Why? Because they are the new generation The leadership in our industry thinks; these are common statements I hear every time I talk about innovation in translation: It's always been done like that It works! I don't have time to change my processes because I am too busy I'm losing business, I'm doing stupid things making a lot of mistakes but I don't have time to correct them because I am too busy Oh I heard this last week from a large software company in Silicon Valley I invested $250,000 in SDL TMS I can't change my processes now OK, you're throwing away money, but that's your problem The other part is skepticism machine translation will take so long to catch up that it is never going to work This sentence about MT, I heard it for the first time 25 years ago MT is between 4 and 400 years from perfection Well until 5 years ago, 3 years ago, I would have said we are closer to 400 years Now I would say that we are closer to 4 and actually I would say we are closer to 2 than to 4 People are too busy being busy, and they are not really thinking about the changes going around them The way that translation has been done forever and some of you might have heard of the Septuagint which the way the Bible was translated into Latin it was translated by 70 translators and the Pope decided, where there was agreement, that would be the standard and was the first model of crowdsourcing I guess but anyway the way we have been doing translation is the same way we have been doing it for hundreds of years It is following the publishing, the printing model somebody does the translation, somebody reviews the translation, another set of eyes reviews the translation and what is the process? the process is all about catching errors I am going to read this material because there must be a mistake here to find How many of you have ever reviewed a translation? Both of you, right? How many of you have reviewed a translation and sent it back with no correction? I don't believe you ..(laughs).. it was your translation very small ..... one paragraph... anyway human nature is, especially in translation, which is something that is subjective forces us to want to change things They say that the biggest drive in human nature is not love, not hate it is the uncontrollable urge to change somebody else's text right? if you have a red pen in your hand you will change text its human nature, fortunately we don't do anything with the red pens anymore so you can let some things go The problem with catching errors is that there is an imbalance, sometimes the reviewer has not the same set of information or less information than the translator so the reviewer is actually adding mistakes to the translation The reviewer goes there and says I don't like six, lets put half a dozen well same thing, BUT the glossary says six not half a dozen and then you suddenly incorporate a mistake into the system The other problem is that we in the translation industry follow a sequential process, so somebody will translate, somebody else is going to review somebody else is going to proof it and very often there is no communication between the parties You will say OK small project, 10 pages, 50 pages, people will communicate but when you are talking in a project where we have 50 translators and 12 reviewers there is very little communication between the translator and the reviewer so teamwork is not a natural part of the process and I call this the blind leading the ignorant nobody knows what they are doing and everybody prays that somebody else is going to catch the mistake, if you are not sure of the translation, the reviewer will find it the reviewer will catch my error so what we need to do now is move to a new paradigm the technology as Dirk showed us yesterday in his presentation allows for collaboration, allows for input from multiple parties into the process so we are in a period in technology and development where multiple people can work together and they can do it right the first time we heard in several presentations yesterday that when multiple people work on a project mistakes are caught naturally, because of re-use because of cross referencing and because of the editing process that goes on as the translation is being done So what has prevented the implementation of innovation in the translation industry? There are three dogmas - a dogma is a Catholic church term - it is something that you don't discuss you don't disagree, it doesn't 'matter so in the Church they will say: God Exists nobody can challenge that, it's a dogma, right? And we have dogmas, we have these topics that nobody can discuss in the translation industry because everybody agrees on them and they have been the main reason that innovation has been hard to happen in the translation industry the #1 dogma has to do with translation memory What I liked about our conversations yesterday is that nobody talked about translation memory every once in a while there was a question when Phillipp was making his presentation we did not touch the subject and the whole industry has heard the story invented by Trados by the way, a very smart marketing ploy that translation memories are assets That they have economic value I contend that translation memory has zero value For me a translation memory is the same thing as a dictionary a dictionary - the value of the dictionary is the $50 that you paid for the book or the access to the website the content is free what costs money is the package, right? translation memories are not an asset from the economic point of view if they were an asset they would be depreciated and they would be amortized Do you do that at Adobe, Dirk? You don't think so, right? you don't know how much in your books you have - I know, its a dogma, I see the smirks I am challenging a dogma My contention, go ahead Michael ...... translation memory will generate savings it will be an investment but they are not an asset It's like a coupon - when you go the pharmacy with a coupon and you get a 25% discount on your drugs or your shaving cream cause you have a coupon - that's what translation memory is a coupon - its an opportunity for you to save money in the future You may save it or you may not It might be a good deal, it might not I go to a pharmacy in Boston where I live and I every time I buy something I get coupons and I always get coupons for discounts for diapers cause I used to buy diapers four years ago when my son was a baby I don't buy them anymore, he is four years old, he doesn't wear diapers, but I still get 25% discount on diapers, thats like translation memory its the same thing. Sometimes it has absolutely no value, OK? The 2nd dogma that has prevented change and innovation in the industry is the concept that more eyes improve quality The more you review, the better the quality and that seems .. natural .. makes sense right? so I write a text and I ask two people to read it Yes if the people that are reading it and reviewing are qualified to add value The reality is that it has become a process People only get reviews because you are supposed to have reviews Its part of the workflow Somebody translates, somebody reviews check, check, check There's no real value added in this process There is just a check mark done there because we assume that other people reviewing will improve the process If I did a good job selecting the right translator I don't need a reviewer A reviewer will only add noise add impurities to my translation process So I don't say the process is bad But the process for the sake of the process is not valuable So it is a dogma We don't need three reviews to make a better translation As I said before The 3rd dogma has to do with consistency, right? I had asked this question countless times What is better? To have 2 translators to do the job in 10 days? Or 10 translators to do a job in 2 days Everybody will say it is better to have 2 translators to do the job in 10 days My answer would actually be, If you have 10 days I use 10 translators and do the job in four days I use two days for preparation I'll use two days for cleaning up and organizing the project The reality is that, .. in my experience in the translation industry as a translator, as a business owner, as a project manager as an analyst What I have seen is when you talk about quality you are usually talking about 15 variables, depending on the language 90% of the errors that you find in translations have to do with style and style has to do with capitalization with spelling, with choice of verb tense form of address informal / formal right? language style These variables are things that you don't standardize after the fact Style is something that you standardize upfront Style is something that you agree in the beginning. It is much easier to get 10 different translators on a phone call and agree with them we are going to translate the gerunds like this all the numbers will be converted to the metric system with 2 decimal points We are going to use capital letters in all the words in the titles or not Whatever you agree, we are going to capitalize after a colon or anything, you can agree on those issues upfront 90% of the mistakes that exist in the translation processes can be avoided by preparation and agreeing with the things upfront By the way, I have a blog and I invite you to read it after the event naturally My last entry is about the latest book by Dan Brown (of the DaVinci Code) He wrote a book that was launched in the US on September 15th and was launched in Sweden on October 21st 36 days after ... it is a 502 page book 36 days after it was launched in the US, it was launched in Sweden in Swedish 7 translators worked on the project and if you talk to anybody, if you want to translate literature You have to have a translator that understands the style of the author and you have to have consistency in the tranlsation What these people did is, they said that Harry Potter lost a 150,000 copies in sales in Sweden because it took them six months to translate the book So the Swedes were buying the book in English instead of buying it in Swedish so with the Dan Brown book which was supposed to have been a big best-seller they said we are not going to lose money we are going to launch it as fast as possible and they used this approach, they used more translators to work on the project, they coordinated and everything else, but the driver here was not the quality of the translation and by the way if you have seen my blog, I refer people to a story that was published in a Swedish publication and the Swedish author says unfortunately, or sadly is the word she uses, "sadly the translation is quite good" and she said sadly because she would rather have bad translation that she could criticize and say that the process did not work But again this for me was a clear proof that you can have good quality, consistent quality consistent translations, regardless of the number of translators that are working on the project If you do a good setup, a good preparation phase So why is it important to talk about innovation and change and changing the processes and defying the dogmas Because we are in an environment where automation has to be a requirement We cannot continue to doing translation the way we have been doing and expect that everything that needs to be translated will get done into all the languages that need to be translated and the reasons are very clear the number of translators is limited it takes a long time to develop a good translator it would take you 3-5 years to have decent translator working while I could double the amount of content in a year or less actually, somebody mentioned yesterday quadrupling the volume I forget the context but I could essentially say that tomorrow I am going to localize all the Adobe products into Burmese Are there enough translators to do Burmese? Are there enough people who can do Burmese? And all of a sudden I have a concept that has never been translated before or that never existed that needs to be translated so formation takes time, translators are scarce and the demographics run against us Most rich European economies have declining populations They say that even India and China, in the next 40 years are going to have stable populations The global population is expected to reach a standard stable level in 40 years So the population is aging, people don't make babies anymore in Scandinavia and Italy The Netherlands, I think that France is the only EU country to have positive growth Probably because of the Algerians, the Moroccans and the other ones who are there There is another limitation that we have You cannot buy Norwegian in Uganda, as they say Maybe there is one translator, a Norwegian who lives in Uganda and can do translations but The market is driven by the country that speaks that language Norway is a very rich country Nobody wants to be a translator in Norway Actually nobody wants to work in Norway But that's another story They're recording this right? they are going to show this in Norway I think I am going to be banned from Norway So this is the natural environment - you can see from this curve here You have an explosive growth in volume You have price that is pretty much standard or slowly declining for the last twenty years the number of translators is going down So you need to improve productivity, that is the only way that you are going to address the demand for content So we have the perfect environment for automation Add to to that the fact that I think that translation is like toilet paper Its very cheap and it's only important when it is not there Nobody thinks about toilet paper until it's not there Nobody thinks about translation until it's absent You never see a positive translation story in the news The only time that translation will make the news is when something goes wrong That is the only time that translation will go to the CEO of the company The last time I saw news about translation related to a large company it had to do with Google in China, where they had failed in their translation efforts and it went all the way up to the founders and the CEO and they had to go all the way to China and address issues that had to do with Localization The conversation I heard here yesterday and I hear over and over again is How are we going to make translation a strategic issue? How are we going to make strategic discussion. We are going to make it a board level issue the day they start discussing toilet paper So what happens in an environment like this is that everybody is comfortable Like I said before, this is the way have done business, until disruption happens And disruption always comes from the outside Disruption comes from the guys who are not thinking the same way that we are thinking They did not go to translation school, they did not work at an LSP They never used software in their lives They don't know what Trados is They probably call it tray-does or something like that Here are some examples of disruptors who are coming from the outside Facebook -good example - they had their website translated professionally into Spanish in about 3 months Then they created a tool that let people translate and they had their website translated into French in 48 hours We are talking about 300,000 words or something like that 48 hours and the volunteers translated Facebook I participated just to test the tool to the Portuguese translation of Facebook I did 47 sentences, 430 words And I had a 198 votes for my translations And with this little amount I am today 35th most frequent translator of Facebook But if I go up I will have guys who have translated tens of thousands of words What did I get in return? My picture on Facebook You can go there and see me on the Leaderboard Another player coming completely from the outside, our host here, Asia Online This guy never did translation before, he can't even speak another language He is a monolingual translator as we heard yesterday So the thing is that somebody who looks at the translation problem as a technology problem rather than a language problem. He is not interested in subjects and .. verbs and inverse order, direct order as a style issue and a linguistic issue He is interested in this as a technology problem, as a database problem How do I solve this from a technology point of view And of course Google, the big disruptor The company that goes in and wherever they go they change the rules And they came out with this Goggle Translator Toolkit which is very basic It is not enterprise level, it is not something that can be used for business It is not at the same level as Asia Online but its free, its there, anybody can use it its there today and these are people that are not in the language industry at all They don't care about the language industry The reason why this is important is that Google has unlimited funds and this is a pet project for the founders of the company who just happen to be Russian and French, right? and so they understand the language issue The program manager of GTT has weekly meetings with the CEO and the founders of Google Not everybody has that, this is a key project for them So just as we don't use typewriters anymore, we won't be using Trados in the future Yes Trados is dead This is a picture from Don Shin a vendor in LA showed at a presentation, that I borrowed from him Yesterday I saw a demo of Asia Online, it is very close to what we have here So it is essentially a desktop for a translator You have WYSIWYG, you have glossary, you local memory, server memory You have machine memory and chat with team members so you can collaborate and finally this is a cute thing a calculator How much money am I making as I work? Isn't that cool? Can you imagine that? I made $5 and I did not even work 3 minutes Just as we did not use Google 5 years ago, today my daughter asks a question I don't know - she says Google it It is going to be the same thing with Google translate The discussions that we are having these days are moot We are having these discussions because we are in a transition period In a few years maybe months, all of this will be old history and new generations will come with different ideas and different expectations So to conclude I make a few predictions here I am being optimistic (or pessimistic) By 2015 TM tools will be free or irrelevant I don't think we will be talking about TM anymore after the next 5 years Most large translation projects will be collaborative in nature as they are today but more, technology makes it so easy This I find funny, I wrote this two months ago, translator productivity will be measured in tens of thousands of words/day instead of 2,500 or 3000 words that we expect today The funny thing is that there was an email sent by SDL last week where Marian Greenfield of ATA said that she did 34,500 words in 10 hours Just by using the features of her Trados whatever Like I said in the beginning, its going to happen in the future, but its already happening today I see a change in the landscape in this industry Companies that get it will grow like Asia Online, Google, Lionbridge, Lingotek, Sajan and Elanex I think that the biggest loser is going to be SDL cause they resist innovation, they resist change It is so easy to stay the way they are. They want Trados to be faster Trados to be better, Trados to be the standard Or SDLX or whatever product they have They only sow confusion - they have 19 products, some of which don't talk to each other and they have VERY BAD customer service You can't compete with free Goggle Translate or you cant compete with excellent service and excellent quality and evolved process like Asia Online when all you do is provide client-server technology So this is my presentation for today and this is my contact information And I see a sign the time is up

Video Details

Duration: 36 minutes and 13 seconds
Year: 2009
Country: Thailand
Language: English
Producer: Asia Online
Views: 2,930
Posted by: asiaonline on Dec 10, 2009

Localization and Translation Thailand 2009
Day 2 Keynote: The On-going Evolution of the Localization Business
- Renato Beninatto, CEO, Milengo
Twitter: #LTBKK

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