Learnings from LocWorld and TAUS 2014

The last week of October we saw many people from a wide variety of industries and locations around the globe, converging in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for a week of conferences and seminars all about translation, localization, translation technologies and global content – everything you need to “go global.”

Smartling staff – along with customers and partners, and the translation agencies that are working on projects sent to them through the Smartling platform – were all present at the events. We did a little bit of everything: from discussing industry challenges at TAUS and at LocWorld pre-conference workshops, to presenting at LocWorld, to showing off a very cool exhibit, to sharing new information with our partners.

Here are a few of my takeaways from this year’s events:

New, Agile Technology Companies Are Unlike Previous Generations of High-Tech Organizations

For these fast-growing technology companies, there is absolutely no question that they are a global company, with customers around the world, from day one. It’s not a question of “why,” but more a question of “how fast.” When our “Going Global at the Speed of Light” panel was asked, “What was the trigger to expand into global markets?”, all three panelists seemed a little surprised that anyone would even ask the question. They have the right attitude: There’s no such thing as “domestic only” when you are a web-based business. A big thank you to IMVU, for bringing out the customer viewpoint at TAUS, and to Pinterest, Hotel Tonight and Pocket for sharing insights into their global business to a packed audience – we could have continued all day!

Focus on the Big Picture When It Comes to Translation Quality

As an industry, we very often focus on the minuscule details and lose sight of the big picture. We spend a lot of time and effort creating standards and models for quantifying translation and spelling errors, (and there are very good standards for doing so), yet we don’t start by measuring the quality of the original, source content. And we focus so tightly on these “translation quality” metrics that we forget to step back and see if the content we are translating is useful, meaningful, relevant and appropriate for our target audiences. We often don’t ask those audiences what they think, either. If you’re translating support content online, and the measured quality is perfect with no spelling errors or inconsistencies, and the translation has been through five different quality reviews, but there are no page views and customers are still calling the Support Center for help, there’s something wrong… There is more to think about than the number of punctuation marks when you translate website content. Just saying.

Same Goes for Technology Integration

It’s no longer only a question of connecting a CMS with a TMS; it’s a need to be connected to all aspects of a company’s business, including sales management, social media management, translation provider accounting and invoicing – the works.

Need for Continued Growth, Education, and Mentoring in the Language Industry

There’s an acknowledged shortage of experts in this industry, with a growing gap, as more and more businesses and organizations go global. While new technologies like Smartling remove complexities for going global, we have many more industries, vertical markets, and individual organizations needing staff with expertise that has, until recently, been found only within Language Service Providers and the high-tech industry. The organizers of Localization World, along with an advisory board, have launched an initiative to examine and work on solutions to the challenges of engaging buyers, education, career development and evangelization of the industry. (I personally believe that those of us who have been in the industry for a while have a responsibility to share our learnings with those who are just discovering how much fun it is!)

Overall, I find that these events are always a great place to share ideas, see how others are addressing industry challenges, and learn about the advances that have been made in technology, processes, and people. They are also a great place to catch up with old friends (the longer you work in this global industry, the stronger the connections and the smaller the world seems to be). Lucky for me, I even had some time to take a few photos of the beautiful Vancouver scenery. Win-win any way you look at it.

Did you attend this year’s LocWorld or TAUS conferences? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!