By: David Canek, CEO, MemSource Technologies
This year the Globalization and Localization Association’s annual conference took place in Monte Carlo. According to Wikipedia, Monte Carlo “is widely known for its casino and its prominence”. Also, the Principality of Monaco is one of the few European tax havens. With no personal income tax, it attracts a lot of wealthy individuals. Thanks to GALA I too got to know Monte Carlo.
The conference was actually not bad at all and not only because the venue was on the beach. I had a lot of meetings throughout the conference, so I attended only a few sessions. I will comment on two:
- “In a Cloud or on a Server? What’s Best for Your Company?” (presenters Mark Tapling of SDL and myself)
- “TEP is Dead. Now What?” (Jeff Guillem, Moravia)
“In a Cloud or on a Server?” was first supposed to be a workshop with lots of audience participation – at least this was the proposal I initially submitted to the GALA program committee. The committee came back to me and said they like the topic, but would like to add a co-presenter to make it more balanced. Apparently, they feared that my approach would be too pro-cloud, as our lead product is MemSource Cloud.
The format I had proposed was a workshop and I intended to let the audience work and formulate their opinions on the cloud and server technologies. Therefore, I did not think the workshop would be unbalanced. Still, I had no problem with the committee’s suggestion to invite “someone from SDL” as a co-presenter. The session’s format was to change from workshop to “debate”. I think the idea was that I would say something pro-cloud and the SDL co-presenter would say something anti-cloud, or at least pro-server.
As is often the case, things turned out a little different than expected. My co-presenter was Mark Tapling, CEO of SDL’s software division. As soon as we started planning the debate, it turned out he is everything but anti-cloud. Normally, this would not pose a problem for me, on the contrary. But when you have a debate with someone that shares your opinion, it can get a little less lively, perhaps even boring. Obviously, we both did our best to make the debate interesting for the audience. Mark’s outspoken pro-cloud attitude may have come as a surprise to some, as SDL’s product strategy vis-à-vis the cloud is not so openly welcoming. I think Mark was simply presenting his personal opinion while SDL product managers still have to figure out how to balance their legacy desktop and server-based products with the general shift to the cloud.
The other session I want to comment on is “TEP is Dead. Now What?” presented by Jeff Guillem of Moravia. (“TEP” stands for Translation, Editing, Proofreading, the traditional localization workflow at MLVs). “MLVs” stands for multi-language vendors, in other words, big translation agencies that service multinational corporations in their multilingual localization needs. In contrast, a SLV is a single language vendor, a translation agency that provides translations in just one language pair.
I liked Jeff’s presentation a lot. Not just for what he presented on but also for the way he did it. For me the main message was that an MLV needs to focus on its people to succeed. This may sound obvious and it’s probably valid for any business, and even more so for a service business. The truth is, however, that some big translation agencies don’t particularly care about their people and, specifically, translators.
Jeff also talked about the ever tighter delivery deadlines their customers enforce, and about the fact that their clients often don’t provide vital linguistic instructions, e.g. glossaries, style guides and other professional linguistic guidance that one would expect for a complex translation job.
He pointed out that translation projects do not take months any more but are split into days, and sometimes only hours. This goes against the very structure of the traditional multilingual translation supply chain, which may look like this in some cases:
- A multinational company assigns a translation job to an MLV
- The MLV creates a translation package and distributes it to regional MLVs
- The regional MLVs distribute it to SLVs
- The SLVs finally pass it on to translators
Of course, in many cases the MLV may pass the job directly to an SLV or even a translator but the above supply chain hierarchy is not an exception.
In a supply chain like the one mentioned above, one must ask the question what the added value of the middle men is and whether perhaps the translation job is delayed because of so many intermediaries. Another question each MLV must urgently ask itself is what added value it brings to the process and whether that added value couldn’t be partly or fully replaced in some way or another by technology in the years to come.
On MemSource Technologies:
MemSource Technologies provides a complete translation environment for LSPs and localization departments that has been recognized for combining robust performance with user-friendliness. MemSource Server and its cloud version, MemSource Cloud, include translation memory, integrated machine translation, terminology management, and MemSource Editor, a translator’s workbench, which is available as a free download. MemSource was the first to integrate machine translation post-editing support into a TMS.