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Machine Translation Report

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Key Takeaways from LocWorld40 Portugal

LocWorld conference

The title of the LocWorld40 keynote speech really summed up the overarching theme of the conference - Go Digital. Be Human. This conference was all about the humanization of technology. In previous conferences, there has been much talk of the importance of automation, and reducing human involvement in the translation workflow, mostly using AI. While there were a number of talks dedicated to AI and machine translation, including Memsource’s very own panel, LocWorld40’s main focus was on the relationship between humans and technology. There were various discussions around what humans have to offer that machines can’t and emphasizing the importance of human touch points in the user experience. One speaker, Vera Richards, put it very neatly when talking about post-editing machine translation output: “the human part is so important as it gives text the soul that a user deserves”.

The Human-Machine Hybrid

In her keynote speech, Isabela Aguilera, former CEO of Google and General Electric (GE), Spain and Portugal, identified 5 values which differentiate humans from machines: intuition, empathy, experience, compassion, and ethics. During her presentation, she highlighted the importance of people’s emotional connection to products and services, and creating human-machine hybrids.

Check out our blog post “Making Machine Translation More Meaningful: An AI Story” exploring how AI can help users make more informed decisions about how they use machine translation and emphasize just how accessible and user-friendly AI can be. Read more.

Personalizing the User Experience

The importance of the personal touch, as part of user experience, was another key theme raised both by Isabela Aguilera, and other speakers. The winner of this LocWorld’s Process Innovation Challenge (PIC), Giulia Tarditi from Monese, proposed that source text, especially UI strings, should be replaced with a description of the action the user should take. Why? Because source text can heavily influence a translator, making a translation less idiomatic which impacts upon the experience of the new target audience. Of course, this process increases the lead time, but based on Giulia’s research, the increase in customer satisfaction and conversion rates is far greater; this more labor intensive PIC entry was a far cry from previous entries which revolved around AI and automation.

What to Do with Data

Improving customer experience was also raised as part of the discussions around data collection and analysis. Speakers emphasized the fact that the most successful companies have figured out how to extract real meaning from their data flows and make not only the user experience, but also user communication more relevant. Of course this can be easier said than done, but worth the time and effort. Related to this, the way in which LocWorld incorporated into their very useful LocWorld app was testament to the way in which data collection and data sharing can make all the difference when it comes to user engagement - being able to vote in live polls in presentations and post questions was a fantastic way to involve the audience.

Judging from the lessons coming out of LocWorld40, the localization industry, especially technology providers, need to go back to basics. As well as concentrating on innovation, companies should focus on listening to customers, solving their problems, and personalizing the user experience. It will be very interesting to see whether these trends continue into LocWorld41 Silicon Valley later this year.

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