3 Key Takeaways from Swedish Translators' Association Conference (SFÖ) 2015

On 8-10 May a team from Memsource attended the annual conference of the Swedish Association of Professional Translators (Sveriges Facköversättarförening, SFÖ). This well-organized event took place in the beautiful town of Eskilstuna, in celebration of SFÖ’s 25th anniversary. It attracted about 300 translation professionals, including freelancers, staff translators, and company representatives. The atmosphere was warm but dynamic.  Attendees were eager to learn and embrace new technology.

Josef Kubovsky, Head of  Sales, runs Memsource booth at SFÖ

The 3 parallel tracks of the conference program contained practical sessions that translators can apply in their work. These included professional insurance and pensions for freelancers, as well on tips to building a better LinkedIn profile, optimizing websites and professional profiles for search visibility. Sessions also covered how translators can best work with with tricky file formats, such as PDF.

Our team focused on spotting technology trends at the event. We’ve been hearing during informal discussions that the translation market in Sweden is changing under pressure to deliver faster translations.

1) Customers require quick translations > Freelancers go mobile and leverage translation memory.

Translators in the Nordic region noticed that their clients want small items translated much faster, often on the same business day. To accommodate the client’s’ needs, freelancers try to stay online and available at all times. They use mobile phones and tablets to work when away from workstation, and always try to leverage translation memory with browser-based CAT-tools. Correcting a few fuzzy matches on the fly is infinitely faster than translating the entire document from scratch.

2) Without technology translators aren’t competitive anymore.

Translation memory is now mandatory to win work from professional buyers, both agencies and enterprise translation departments. Unless a freelancer is proficient with at least one CAT-tool, it is extremely difficult to find new clients.

Even translators working with end-customers feel the pressure; although clients may not ask them to use CAT-tools all the time, Word and Write can’t compare to CAT-tools on the level of translation productivity and daily output, especially when working with rich formatting.

Tech-savvy freelancers already have 2-5 software packages under their belt, and can suit the requirements of any client.

3) Systems integration is a must for agencies.

Language services agencies feel the need for speed even more than freelancers. For businesses, turnaround time is a matter of streamlining the production process.

Agencies aim to eliminate time consuming activities, such as data re-entry, emailing large files back and forth, and typing out long messages. Ideally, they aim to integrate systems with customers so that translation jobs can be created and automatically assigned as soon as the client submits the files requiring translation.

Semantix workshop starting: “How to get a win - win situation between Language Agencies and translators”.

On the third day of the conference, Elin Ward from Semantix and Josef Kubovsky from Memsource held a workshop together entitled, “How to get a win - win situation between Language Agencies and translators.” A part of the discussion focused on using technology to deliver translations faster.

Freelancers working with Semantix noticed that it was easy for them to start translating in Memsource. The tool currently optimizes their communication and saves them time. Fewer emails and fewer phone calls results in more productivity.

Elin Ward pointed out that this year, freelancers were actively looking for feedback from the language companies about their quality, pricing and service. As a vendor manager, the common questions that she frequently heard at the conference included: “How can we improve our translations?” and “Tell me if I’m too expensive.” This indicates that freelancers are becoming more aware of growing competition and are putting considerable effort into improving their services.

“We should have feedback collection introduced into CAT-tools and project management software to facilitate this communication,” Mrs. Ward suggested. “Still, translators like to have a human touch in our relationship as well. Semantix will therefore offer more events in the Nordics,” she added.