Taking Translation to the Next Level: At Smartling and Beyond

I’ve been working with translation and localization for a long time. And yet it has flown by: there is always something new to learn, new and complex problems to solve, new file formats to wrestle with, new markets to explore, and “new” languages to enable. (They are not actually “new languages”, it’s just that international business newly considers them to be important; but of course, we all know that people prefer to consume information in their own language… don’t we?)

I have spent a lot of time over the past years explaining why Globalization, or Translation and Localization, is complex. I’m often describing the complexity to business leaders who don’t need (or want) to see the inner workings, the components that must fit together and interact, the relationships between content flows and file formats, between system A and system B — and really, why should they? Their business is already complex enough!

Businesses expect translation to be easy. No problems. Just as customers around the world simply expect to read content in their own language.

There are practices in the translation industry which, in my opinion, are due for a change. The translators who are providing the quality rendition of content in their language are essential. The customers who are reading and consuming that translated content are vital. Anything in the middle is overhead: it has to be of value, otherwise it’s just another burden to explain away.

It should, and can, be easy to enable global revenues by providing quality content in multiple languages. It should, and can, be easy to enable high-quality translations of all types of content, with full visibility on what happens at each stage in the process. It should, and can, be easy to quickly add a new language to a website, or to meet with the translator who is working on your marketing documents and make sure that together you bring out the best in your brand, globally.

The people who are responsible for providing language versions and local-market versions of a website or a marketing campaign should be able to say: “Yes, we can do that: which languages do you need this week?” and not, “We can do it but…” And that’s why I joined Smartling. To help drive this change. Because Smartling is already causing the translation industry to rethink not only technology, but processes and dated business practices, too.

We’ve got the technology and the vision to help people say, “Yes, we can do that!” I believe it’s time.