As part of Lingoport’s December webinar, 5 Steps to Create a Software Globalization Culture, we interviewed our featured guest speaker, Elizabeth Riley, Solutions Architect at Vistatec, to get some quick insights into the current state and future of localization. Elizabeth explores internal team processes and how cross-team collaboration is affected by technology and G10n knowledge/support within your organization.
How has Localization evolved since you began in the industry? Where do you see the industry 10 years from now?
Elizabeth Riley: The industry has changed a ton since I began working in it. There has been so much technological innovation it’s affected pretty much every aspect of the work and made previously unimaginable gains in productivity become new benchmarks for throughput.
Personally, I feel like the localization biz is experiencing something like an industrial revolution whereby translations have heretofore been done “by hand” and are moving to a method of “machine” production that’s powered by automation and of course machine translation. Of course, at present, use of MT is far from being standard practice and is still seen by many as a novelty if not an outright joke. At the rate that automation, MT and NMT, and other yet-to-be seen technologies are emerging and developing, however, I’d be surprised if in ten years we’ll still see it as standard practice to employ a “hand-crafted”, 100% human-powered translation process.
This doesn’t mean that I think human translators will be phased out in ten years and replaced by bots. When we talk about innovations in translation, there’s always a risk it’s perceived as this scenario where automation leads to mechanization and the complete eradication of human translators. But I have a more optimistic view of things. While we may be undergoing a sort of “industrial revolution” in our industry fueled by technological innovation, our “output” is still, ultimately, foreign language. As a human construct, I believe that language, and by extension, translation and localization, will never be completely mechanized even with vast technological innovation. In the future, innovations will allow those of in the industry to best apply our knowledge and intelligence; say, in curating foreign language content, post-editing NMT output, evaluating translation quality, rather than repetitively spend our time engaged in the execution of repetitive manual tasks like sending files, downloading updates, or gathering data.
How have advances in L10n technology impacted G10n processes and internal team collaboration?
Elizabeth Riley: The advent of tools like translation management systems have allowed for huge improvements in internal collaboration, not to mention process improvements. Modern enterprise TMSs have tons of features that permit substantial and extensive automation of processes that were previously done one at a time: think automated assignment of linguists to a project, workflows that automate project kickoff and task routing, even vendor quality ranking and allocation. Centralization driven by TMSs also allows teams to best leverage shared content, such as memories, glossaries, and the like, and made it much easier to do this as well. On the process side, I hardly know where to begin; we now have tools that are sophisticated enough to visually render web pages and certain applications that allow for certain software QA tasks to occur far earlier in the project cycle, which is a huge benefit for globalization because of course it allows internationalization and localization issues to be caught sooner – or eliminated altogether.
What is the biggest opportunity to improve L10n processes?
Elizabeth Riley: I honestly think that the biggest opportunity to improve localization processes rests in educating customers/localization project and program managers on the depth and breadth of tools that are already available on the market to automate, centralize, and streamline our work. It’s true that innovation continues to happen, and at a very exciting and rapid pace. But I feel the thing that would bring the most benefit to the greatest number of folks working in localization would be something very simple – just greater awareness of the tools already out there and some education on how to quickly start using them. There is so much already available that can be used to solve common—but still complex—problems. People should be better made aware of them and it should be easier to use and master such tools.
What would you describe as the number one globalization challenge organizations face?
Elizabeth Riley: I really like this question. I’ve worked with customers in a variety of industries, from medical device to gaming, religious organizations to startups creating dating apps, and what I’ve noticed is that everyone thinks their worst globalization challenges are unique to their organization, when in fact their challenges are just variations on a theme that everyone else has probably experienced at some time. So I’d answer this by saying that the biggest challenge organizations face is lacking awareness of how common their localization problems are – and by extension, how much information, insight, knowledge and tools are out there already to help them solve them. I suppose what I’m saying is that the biggest challenge is everyone’s lack of awareness how certain things are intrinsic to localization, regardless of industry or vertical, and as such, there are myriad suitable ways to solve those problems that are already in use by those who have come across it already. There could be more knowledge-sharing across verticals. The commonalities are greater than the differences, I think.
How does a lack of support and understanding from leadership teams impact globalization quality and efficiencies?
Elizabeth Riley: When leadership and management don’t understand localization, or even language, for that matter, it has an enormous effect on quality and efficiency. A great number of quality issues can be obviated or at least minimized at a process stage far sooner than by the time software gets sent out to be localized. This is an inefficiency in terms of cost but also time, of course. But if an organization’s management sees localization as an afterthought, it is—as we’ve all frequently seen—relegated to the last stop in a project process and subject to numerous time and cost pressures. If global organization leaders understood language and localization better, you might see localization departments brought to the forefront of any process development as a way to introduce quality at source, both in-language and in English, and save substantial amounts of money not having to test and fix issues later.
- Date: October 24th, 2019
- Time: 9AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST
- Duration: 40 minutes, plus audience Q&A