An Interview About the Future of i18n and L10n with Tucker Johnson, Nimdzi

As part of Lingoport’s January webinar, “2020 L10n Planning – Technology Automation, Strategy & More” we interviewed our featured guest speaker, Tucker Johnson, Founder of Nimdzi and Author of the book “The General Theory of the Translation Company”. Tucker provides us with some quick insights into future of i18n and L10n in 2020.

What do you feel is the biggest opportunity to improve i18n & L10n processes in 2020?

Tucker Johnson: The conversations that we have been having in the industry have been shifting, and we expect it to shift more as we move into 2020. Take, for example, the conversation around machine translation, which is no longer seen as a “nice to have” but rather a prerequisite for any self-respecting localization program. The lines between TMs and MT will begin to blur and become the new normal for the industry.

Furthermore, the lines between “language technology” and every other technology will continue to blur. Currently, language technology is a niche industry that is not well understood by traditional technology companies (or investors, for that matter). This has allowed for a proliferation of TMS and CAT tools on the market, some of them more effective than others.

The reality is that most globalization teams don’t want to be forced tow work in a third-party translation management system, and so it becomes a high priority to focus on seamless integrations. It is no longer enough to have an API – globalization managers expect out-of-the-box integrations with their systems. The companies that are best situated to address this challenge are today’s technology providers and some of the more technology-focused LSPs.

What are the most common L10n challenges localizations teams faced in 2019? How do you see this changing in 2020?

Tucker Johnson: One thing that we have been seeing a lot of chatter about in the industry is a reviving conversation around quality as well. The current quality metrics used by mature localization programs were developed years ago, and they have failed to progress along with the times. Advancements in technology and automation have made many of the traditional quality measurement practices obsolete, though the industry has not landed on a new solution at this time. We are going to see a shift towards user-driven KPIs to measure quality. The whole concept of quality is shifting away from having translations that are error-free to having translations that truly resonate and connect with the end-user. The focus turns from catching translation and internationalization issues after the fact to developing innovative new systems and processes for ensuring quality at source.

Which L10n technology do you feel is underutilized in the industry and why?

Tucker Johnson: When most people talk about L10n technology, we are typically referring to CAT, TMS, or MT. All of these are important and can lead to much efficiency gains. However, to focus only on these technologies is to neglect other technologies and automation that may be less fancy because they are not focused strictly on language services. There are a host of solutions out there for project management, supply chain management, finances, email automation, video conferencing… you name it. Most large localization programs consist of project managers rather than in-house translators, and so it would make sense to focus on tools that can help these people with their day to day activities.

How has automation changed the L10n and i18n landscape?

Tucker Johnson: Necessity is the mother of all invention. With the increasing agile demands of continuous development teams, the localization industry has been forced to adapt. Continuous localization is not just a buzzword, it is a requirement for many programs. Without working (and reliable) automation in place, it would be impossible to meet these demands, no matter how many project managers and translators you threw at it.

Automation is allowing us to process higher volumes, with smaller hand-off sizes, coming much more frequently. For language technology solutions, the goal has shifted from who has the best features for translation to who has the best and most integrations with other systems, allowing for seamless integration.

Webinar Presentation

Tucker Johnson: In 10 years, we are going to be spending a lot less time “educating” our stakeholders about localization. Today, the number one challenge faced by many globalization managers is evangelizing their services with their internal stakeholders. Convincing senior management to invest in international initiatives can be an uphill battle. This is largely because many of today’s senior managers grew up in a time when being international was a second priority. Today, the most successful startups are thinking about their international strategy from day one. They realize that it is no longer an option to be global. If you are online, then you are online everywhere. As more cloud-based services develop, and global supply chains evolve, so will the international opportunities grow, further driving the demand for localization into more and more languages as companies compete for increasingly diverse niche and developing markets.

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