Localization World is traditionally one of the most influential localization conferences in the world. This year’s European instalment of the event saw more than 600 attendees and thousands of discussions. Here is a brief overview of the key trends our team has spotted at the trade show.
Trend 1: Continuous Delivery, 24/7 Localization, Ultra-Short Turnarounds
This year buyers are calling for 24/7 localisation. They require vendors to deliver translation in multiple languages, within minutes or hours from receiving the request, and at any time of the day or night.
- Michaela Bartelt from Electronic Arts spoke of a SLA for 24/7 localization with Capita T&I in the UK. Her co-speaker Antonio Tejada from Capita T&I presented a custom-built solution that checks which of the 136 linguists supporting this project are awake and can be given the assignment. EA and Capita introduced not only a minimum rate, but also a maximum size for urgent tasks – about 640 words. Michaela believes this model of cooperation between a large buyer and an LSP is going to become the mainstay in the industry.
- Sue Bishop from Microsoft’s GlobalART group presented a 55-million word translation project for packaging of Non-Windows and Non-Office products. She required her vendors to be able to deliver continuously.
- Continuous delivery was the main topic of the keynote panel discussion between localization people from Adobe, IBM, Electronic Arts, Facebook, Sage Software, and GetYourGuide.
The need for 24/7 is driven by Agile development and by very short software development cycles, experts explained. Several years ago developers launched new products every 18 months or so, and localization teams had more relaxed deadlines. Today 18 months seem like Stone Age, as Dave Ruane from Xplanation put it. Developers launch new features on a daily basis, and each release needs to be supported in every language the product is available in.
Yet another driver for continuous delivery is the need to respond to the news instantly. Anne-Cecile Tomlinson from GetYourGuide said that her team had to localize warning banners within 15 minutes after the Louvre museum was closed because of Paris inundation in early June.
For the production team, continuous delivery is a compromise on quality and speed. It requires bravery on the part of the content owner and an ability to correct the translation inside the product, if the rush translation already published needs it.
Discussion revolved back to the familiar localization dilemma: what is “good enough” in terms of quality? Chiara Pacella from Facebook shared the famous slogan used by her company: done is better than perfect. Today speed and coverage are more important than “perfect” translation quality.
If a localization team is prepared to move fast, the only way to do so is to automate. To be fast, the team has to eliminate email, and provide an integration between their content system and the translation management system. Lisa McCabe from IBM explained that she relies on APIs and SDKs to deliver translations. Email is no longer an option.
Trend 2: Fusion of Localization and Marketing
Multilingual landing pages, search engine optimization and content are a growing trend in digital marketing.
Marketing people find themselves interacting with #l10n teams more, or even becoming localization buyers themselves. On the other side of the line, localization people see marketing KPIs applied to their work. Marketing instruments and metrics such as A/B testing and conversion rates are making their way to localization.
- Bookmate’s localization manager Marina Ilyinykh used A/B testing to understand which version of localized interface of her application converted more visitors into users.
- Electronic Arts used metrics to measure in-game engagement of players, and compared locale performance to find out and fix weaker parts in localization.
In many cases marketing and localization worked together when selecting new languages to localize into. Bookmate went to Kazakhstan and Indonesia where competition from Amazon was not strong at all. Online design tool Canva chose languages to translate their interface into from SEO perspective entirely.
Richard Brooks from K International unrolled a huge and entertaining presentation on the “Whys” and “Hows” of Multilingual SEO. Rich’s slide decks are always some of the top in the industry, and we definitely recommend looking at this one.
Trend 3: Saying “No” to Customers, Value-Based Segmentation
Paul O’Dea, CEO and cofounder of Select Strategies opened the topic of turning down customers during his keynote. “Now is the best time to be a growth transformer”, – he reasoned, and if some customers keep you back, just “fire” them. If they don’t share the company’s vision and values, they shouldn’t hold a stake in its future. “Fire a customer today”. – Paul went as far as suggesting.
Paul’s arguments were echoed throughout the conference. Sue Bishop from Microsoft mentioned that she approved translation providers only when they demonstrated the readiness to turn down tasks they can’t complete.
Rebecca Ray, senior analyst and director at Common Sense Advisory in her session “Inside a Buyer’s Mind” suggested having quarterly reviews with customers and having a scorecard for them, just like buyers have scorecards for vendors. These scorecards could be a basis for a decision to stop working with the customer.
The conclusion is certain: vendors need to adapt to buyers, and they can’t adapt to every group. In a global economy companies get to choose the important types of client, and can cut off those that don’t matter.
PS: Twitter is getting BIG at Localization World. The hashtag #Locworld31 collected almost 700 original tweets in the course of 3 days, and together with retweets they were delivered to 3.5 million timelines, and seen almost 900 thousand times.