If you've shopped for anything online lately (and let's face it, all of us have), then you most definitely have had at least one package delivered by FedEx. You’ve probably even shipped something from the other side of the world.
Operating in over 220 countries at 39 languages, the logistics giant makes it possible to ship just about anything you need from one corner of the globe to another without any hassle.
But have you wondered about the magic that went on behind the scenes to create such a seamless experience?
Us, too. Turns out it took a concerted digital transformation strategy.
As the Senior Localization Program Manager for FedEx, Nancy Ferreira was there to help ensure that every supported market and language has the best experience possible for customers, even when there is unique product availability by region.
Nancy unwraps the story of FedEx’s digital localization journey and dives into how she introduced an agile translation engine with technology, how she manages the relationship between localization professionals and content stakeholders, and how her team balances creativity and timeline constraints for every project.
On this episode, you’ll learn:
- How FedEx prioritizes content for translation
- How to leverage data to drive informed decision making and quantify translation quality
- How to define quality standards across different content channels
- Insights on navigating internal conversations around the value of localization
- How to navigate the challenges of managing localization during a digital transformation
- The importance of considering localization during content creation
What to listen for:
- [6:05] - Nancy’s start in localization
- [8:35] - Helping to build a more agile, digital experience
- [11:43] - The importance of localization during digital transformation
- [14:40] - Navigating internal conversations about the value of translation
- [23:18] - Deciding what to translate, how to translate, and when to translate
- [36:30] - Leveraging data to identify your highest priority content for translation
- [40:37] - Creativity requirements and timeline constraints within localization
- [46:55] - Nancy's vision for localization, both at FedEx and the industry
- [51:32] - Nancy talks about how one project can touch up to 120 professionals
Keep learning 📖
- Follow Nancy on Twitter
- Connect with Nancy on LinkedIn
- How to determine the value of your content for translation
- Why successful localization starts at content creation
- How to sell translation internally
Full Transcript that almost certainly has typos (forgive us!)
Announcer: You're listening to The Loc Show, presented by Smartling.
Adrian Cohn: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to The Loc Show. I'm your host, Adrian Cohn from Smartling, a language translation technology and services company that transforms how you manage content across devices and content types in any language. Thank you for listening. Nancy Ferriera is my guest today. She is the senior localization manager at FedEx. From her journey to Amsterdam to her vision for transforming translation at a company that supports 39 countries. Nancy gives us a glimpse into how she navigates managing localization at a company with over 425,000 employees worldwide. Nancy's an incredible guest. Let's dive in. Hey, Nancy. Welcome to The Loc Show. How are you doing today?
Nancy Ferriera: I'm doing great. Enjoying beautiful weather in Amsterdam today, and also a day off. But also enjoying this show that you invited me to.
Adrian Cohn: It's just such a pleasure to have you here. Nancy, you're in Amsterdam right now. Is that right?
Nancy Ferriera: Yes, that's correct.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. How are things in Amsterdam? What's life like today?
Nancy Ferriera: It's been of course very strange period of time. We've been in lockdown since mid March. Although, the lockdown over here has been much softer than in other countries. We never had really restrictions about going to the streets. You could still go outside and walk. And even some shops kept on being open, but it was very weird and stressful. But two weeks ago, things started to open up even more, so things like hairdressers, they call it the content occupations, physical therapist, massage, those kind of things started to open. That's why I have a fresh haircut.
Adrian Cohn: Which looks fantastic.
Nancy Ferriera: Thank you. And I think from the first of June on, schools will start going back to normal and also in a staggered way. So things are opening up a little bit more. Although I always say that in the Netherlands, things were never as bad as in New York or in other cities in Europe, like Milan or in Spain, where you have to basically have a permit to go on the streets. We never had that, but still it was lots of restrictions. And now it feels more like normal life. And to be honest, I've been enjoying Amsterdam a lot without tourists, which has been a problem in the city for the past couple of years, overwhelming amount of tourists. And now you can actually enjoy the city with fewer people. And the weather is beautiful and it's spring. So yeah, I mean, you have to see the silver lining of a very bad situation.
Adrian Cohn: I was one of those problem tourists in September, hopefully not a problem. But I had a fantastic time visiting Amsterdam for the second time in my life. But really the first time as an adult, we had a nice evening where we got to know each other a little better. And you told me that the road to Amsterdam was an interesting one. Where are you from? How did you land in Amsterdam?
Nancy Ferriera: I am from Venezuela. I was born and raised in Caracas. My parents are Portuguese and that's why my name is very Portuguese. And I had moved to the Netherlands in 2004 because of love. And yeah, I've been living here since 2004. Not in Amsterdam from the beginning. I had first moved to a small city up north, called Haringhuizen. I moved to Amsterdam in 2007. And yeah, it's been a love story since then. I mean, the city is beautiful. Even though I was born in a big chaotic city, Amsterdam is not big at all. It's like we're less than 1 million people. But also like the diversity of it... It was 180 different nationalities that we have over here.
Nancy Ferriera: And so just mostly it is really remarkable. And also in terms of jobs for me, it was really interesting. There is a very healthy amount of international companies that need people with my skills. So it's been great. I really love it here. And also it's a very easy city to travel to and go at anywhere because we have a great airport, very well connected to everywhere. [inaudible 00:05:49].
Adrian Cohn: Love is a good reason to pick up and move. And I'm glad you found that. Tell me a little bit about your work. You've been in the localization space for quite some time now.
Nancy Ferriera: Yes. In 2007, when I moved to Amsterdam, I found my first... I've always been a language nerd, also of proclaimed. I grew up in a bilingual environment and my parents spoke portuguese, I spoke Spanish in school. So it has always fascinated me. And I studied modern languages at university. So when I moved to Amsterdam and I started seeing... Well, because Haringhuizen is a very small city and the opportunities of working in a big company or even in the industry were very limited. So when I moved here, I really started to research a bit more what I could do.
Nancy Ferriera: And I landed in a very small local translation agency, where I learned lots of things about how to be a localization project manager. So this was what I started small agency. And then I moved to a bigger agency, going to the account side of things, so more like dealing with clients. And then I moved to client side. So I've had experience in both small agencies, big agencies, clients side, so it's been quite diverse and quite interesting as well.
Adrian Cohn: And today you're on the client side working with FedEx?
Nancy Ferriera: Correct. Yes. I started there in October, 2015, to think about this. Time flies. And it wasn't FedEx by then. It was TNT, which is also a logistic company. And I set it off because back then TNT was very much focused on the digital transformation. Everyone calls it digital transformation, especially long standing companies are still very much trying to make that change to be more relevant and a digital presence, let's say. And there was a lot of investments on that side of things at TNT.
Nancy Ferriera: So basically, we needed to rebuild our booking tool, our websites in a way that was more customer focused and a more agile, et cetera. So all these things that lots of digital companies do natively, we were trying to do to change the way we used to do things. So we created this digital departments at TNT, hiring a new talent with a digital experience. And one of the things that's obviously, they realize is that TNT, was a multinational presence in 240 countries and territories. We cover 39 languages. And if we wanted to do applications and websites that were easily updated and reacted to the customer feedback, we needed to do that in 39 languages. And that was very challenging of course.
Nancy Ferriera: So yeah, basically when I came in, that was my quest, to make that possible. So it was very interesting, in a very old fashion company. The company existed for 75 years. We were this digital department full of new people that had no idea about logistics, and had completely different mindsets and trying to implement a new way of working in the company. So were really exciting times, in the beginning. And then, a year later or so we were, it was an [inaudible 00:10:23]. FedEx had acquired us, which for us was great news, of course, being part of this incredible big company. And so everything became much bigger, of course. And it's been five years full of ups and downs and very interesting, and a lot of learning, of course.
Adrian Cohn: I love that story, Nancy, because it starts with this quest for realizing digital transformation, which is something that many companies are either pursuing or have strategic plans to achieve in a certain timeframe. In fact, I think right now, for companies that haven't made the leap, the need for digital transformation has become more pressing. And we're seeing a lot of accelerated roadmaps from our customer base and from the market generally of who is going to make that leap and who won't. When you were brought onto the TNT team, now part of FedEx, and you were trying to help drive digital transformation in the localization space, what was important to you and why were those things important?
Nancy Ferriera: Partnerships. So for me, it was no doubt that we couldn't do it. In order to scale, we needed to have solid partners in both the language services and technology. And like I said, we cover 39 languages and we needed to have speed. So for that, you needed professional translators that actually know what they're doing, but also solid technology that can really support and make it possible. Without the technology, it would be not at all possible to do this. So that was super important.
Adrian Cohn: Yeah. And I suppose, as a logistics company, there are a lot of different types of content that you're dealing with. Can you walk us through what are the various content types that you work with?
Nancy Ferriera: I always said that when I started off, we were very much focused on what the TNT digital team was doing, which was basically tnt.com, so our website and our new applications, and also the whole onboarding emails for new costumers, all the email campaigns, et cetera. So it was very curated. I mean, there were very specific things that we were focusing on. But then, the FedEx reality hit, and then everything became bigger. And even though we still have focused on the .com channel and the digital channels applications, et cetera, we are certainly little by little, also supporting other parts of the company.
Nancy Ferriera: So I wouldn't say we're enterprise wide support of the company, but more and more people find their ways to us and ask us for support, which is great because that means that we'll be successful with a program that we have rolled out so far.
Adrian Cohn: So you started with a certain scope and over time it's expanding based on the success of those projects. I mean, I understand you're a logistics business and you operate in 39 different countries. Where does translation in terms of business value? Have you had conversations internally about what is the value of language translation?
Nancy Ferriera: Yeah, that's really funny. Because obviously it depends on... I mean, this is such a big company. FedEx, we were 450,000 employees or something. It's really massive, and we're everywhere. But obviously the United States where our headquarters are, and it's the mothership. When you talk to our colleagues over there, they see it like one step for that needs to happen. But it changes radically when you talk to regional colleagues, so colleagues from other regions, where they actually see this as... I mean, if the content is not translated, they simply can't reach their customer base.
Nancy Ferriera: So the volume of translation will be depends on where you're located geographically, of course. But basically we're really lucky to be based out of Europe because we all understand that even on the European level of, I think we are supporting... From the 39 languages we support... I don't know it from the top of my head. What I think is 25 languages are European. So it's like the big chunk of these languages are here. So we now feel the need. And also now that in the past two years that we've been talking to more and more with our regional colleagues, we understand how much they value it themselves.
Nancy Ferriera: So it's even something a bit emotional, which I also think is always very interesting about this industry. Because we're talking about costumers, and obviously our main goal is to help our customers. But also when you talk to our regional colleagues, you can see how important it is to have their content translated with the right tone of voice for their customers. It's some pride thing. It's very emotional, and this is one of the reasons why I love this industry so much. Because it's not only about making money, which obviously I think this is a very important part. But there is a very emotional link between language and business. So what I need to express myself... My customers need to believe that we know how to talk to them, and that's really amazing.
Adrian Cohn: I sensed that, not just from you, but from so many folks in the industry, that there's a real passion for the customer experience. I think that's what this comes down to, is it's making a very rich and engaging experience so that your customer can utilize your product service. But there is a very unique passion. And I think it's because language has always been a very romantic part of life. And that has a significant impact on how we approach the industry and the job that we take so seriously, and the business.
Nancy Ferriera: Yeah. I think it's really funny, because we have regular calls with our regional colleagues to know how they're finding the translations and stuff like that. And really the first thing they say, "Well, the translations, they lack something. Because this language..." I'm not going to name a language because everybody says the same, regardless of which language you're talking about. This language, it's a very difficult language, and context means a lot. So every language is the same, but you think that your language is very unique.
Nancy Ferriera: And that's beautiful. Because it's part of your identity of who you are. And obviously if you care about your brands and if you want your brand to be successful in your country, you want to make sure that the language is right.
Adrian Cohn: I have so many questions. All right. So you are sitting in a role where you're managing translation for the company on a country level, on a regional level, where do you sit in the whole stack?
Nancy Ferriera: Oh, man, I think that lots of my colleagues in the localization industry will recognize this, and that is that, when companies like ours have internal localization team... And this happens, especially in non native digital company. So let's say the Uber's, or the Netflix or, or booking they're digitally native. And they understood really right away that they needed to have a way of scaling their contents in different languages. And their localization internal teams have been there almost from the beginning. So it's very evident. So where the [inaudible 00:20:21].
Nancy Ferriera: But in companies like ours, very often, each marketing team did their thing. It's regionally their own thing. It was really very fragmented. And I noticed this when I started with a TNT project. It's like, okay, let's try to centralize. And then people were like, "But why?" And then I had to convince about centralizing. And now what started as let's just do the digital content, like I told you, now we are getting [inaudible 00:20:59] in here. We have a sister team in the US getting emails from HR or from internal comms, or other departments that were like, "Hey, can you help us?"
Nancy Ferriera: So even though we were sitting in the digital department, we see more and more interest in how we're doing this magic of having things translated. And then we're helping. So for now, we're in the digital departments and we're staying there. But who knows? I mean, it can change.
Adrian Cohn: Smartling just released a new plugin for a design application called Figma. Figma is used by teams to design digital content experiences, like websites and applications. We built a plugin so that you can start translating and localizing your content as soon as the design prototypes are available. Why? Because it makes the entire process for shipping new products faster. You can check to see if text fits within buttons, how layouts change with different devices, and make design decisions based on your preferred user experience. You can easily eliminate costly changes to your builds when translations don't fit with designs.
Adrian Cohn: You can also understand how the length of texts for different languages will impact the global user experience while you're prototyping your content. And finally, you can accelerate the translation process by submitting content to linguists earlier in the process. Smartling is localization plugin for Figma, seamlessly connects your designers with Smartling translation service in just one click. Learn more today at smartling.com/figma.
Adrian Cohn: So you're working on translations for digital content. And do you have regional colleagues that you collaborate with to ensure quality, or do they do the selection of what content gets translated? How does that work?
Nancy Ferriera: So we have... Let's try to simplify this. So for example, our websites, fedex.com. So it has content that is valid for the whole world. And there is content that is also only for a certain regions, and there is content that is only for certain countries. So their website has this layer of global regional country level. And this is all coordinated from our.... Our department is called digital international team in cooperation with the regional offices. And then there are other types of content like the campaign.
Nancy Ferriera: So we also support marketing campaigns, especially in Europe. And usually they have different types of assets that are sometimes not only digital, but also print. So this is one of these things that we've been mean to support, but we have to end up supporting, like a print material. And then on top of that, we also support our product teams. So the teams that develop our applications, so we have lots of applications, where our customers big or small, or depending on what type of customer, it can manage their own shipments and et cetera. So yeah, it's a mix between marketing and product.
Adrian Cohn: So let's zero in on the digital content for marketing and product. When it comes to you, are you the one making decisions about what languages it gets translated into or no?
Nancy Ferriera: No. This comes from the stakeholders. So stakeholder management is one of the things that keeps us busy.
Adrian Cohn: So it comes from the owner of the content.
Nancy Ferriera: Correct.
Adrian Cohn: They make the decision, this has got to be shipped in, let's just say, 39 different languages or whatever it is. And then you make that happen with the regional teams?
Nancy Ferriera: Yes.
Adrian Cohn: Adding value at some point in the process, either by doing quality reviews or resource management?
Nancy Ferriera: And also things like... Very often we get content that is translated, and then the regional officers tell us, "Hey, sorry, but this service is not available in this country, or this product is not available here or there." So there is this type of communication about availability of services or products. In such a big company, it's very difficult to find things that actually fit all right. So we have a very fragmented array of services and products that we deliver in different countries.
Adrian Cohn: That makes sense to me now that we're talking about it. But what I'm sort of realizing in this conversation is that for our company, that is the sheer size and magnitude and product offerings of yours and companies like yours, the complexity for language translation is just through the roof. There are just so many components that contribute to all of the decisions that go into supporting languages. And then managing that process. You mentioned that the stakeholder or the content owner is the one setting that conditions for whether or not something goes to get translated. And you said that a big part of your job is managing those relationships?
Nancy Ferriera: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Adrian Cohn: Can you walk me through, what are some of the things that are part of that relationship? Are you talking about whether or not that source content will work for the target market? Are you discussing timelines and release dates? What's behind that relationship?
Nancy Ferriera: [inaudible 00:27:38]. Let's say that it's a new stakeholder that never worked with us, and they have heard about the fact that we support or that we can help facilitate the process. So we try to figure out, okay, what type of content is it? And how can we automate it? The first thing we want to know is, is there a way we can leverage our technology to not reinvent the wheel? So for example, if it's a marketing stakeholder that probably will launch a campaign where a couple of landing pages, emails, and brochures will be needed, then we know that the technology set up is there, because we have Smartling connected to the different tools that support our email management system, our auto management system. So all of that is set up.
Nancy Ferriera: So normally if it's a colleague from marketing, we know that we don't have to even think about the technical part, and we all need to talk about, okay, how many assets are we talking about? What type of assets, and also the timelines. And very often we also have to inform them that maybe their timeline is not that good because another campaign is at the same time. So it's true that when a company is this big, this things can happen. There are so many teams working on content that they don't realize that at the end, it all comes to the same funnel. And then that can have an impact on the timeline, so on the prioritization, et cetera. So that's a tricky one, and one that we are still working on.
Nancy Ferriera: But interesting is when, for example, there is a new tool or any application that needs a technical setup. So how can we just prevent this being a manual process? We don't want to receive files that we have to manually upload it to the tool and et cetera. So how can we facilitate this? You can see how some of the stakeholders are like, "But why are you making this complicated? I just need this translated." And we need to explain why this onboarding on the technology setup will benefit them in the long run. And what's in there for them. If they go through the whole technical setup that normally involves developers talking to each other, involving the technical people from Smartling trying to figure out how to best do it.
Nancy Ferriera: And some people give up along the road and some people go for it. And then when they go for it, they're like, "Oh my God, it was a little setup and a little brainstorm in the beginning, but now things are so much easier." So it's interesting because we need to keep the education part as a constant thing. We really always need to tell the same story every time a new stakeholder comes in.
Adrian Cohn: One thing that I picked up on in what you were just talking about is the balancing act of all of the priorities that hit your team. I'm sure that everybody who comes to you is saying, "This is high priority. We got to get it done right."
Nancy Ferriera: I have the most important contents ever. And fair enough, who am I to tell someone that their content is not important." If you're telling it is important, it must be. But yeah, it is a thing. And what I found really interesting in this company is that, our regional colleagues that are the ones validating the translation, approving them, et cetera, are the ones saying, "We can't no more." So it's not only me and our team or our sister team in the US saying, "Hey guys, there's so much going on." But also our regional colleagues are like, "Hey guys, we need to talk because this cannot go on."
Nancy Ferriera: Because in some countries, the marketing scenes are very big or the people who review the translations are four or five. But some countries maybe half someone, someone with other responsibilities within the marketing team. And then they have to do this on the side. So we've been having a lot of conversations about this specific topic in the past six months or so, because we need to get better at planning in a way that everyone still has fun. Because sometimes it's so overwhelming. And, like what we're saying, people have so much emotional connection with their translated texts and they want to do a good job.
Nancy Ferriera: But then if there's lots and lots of things to be approved and formulations to be approved or feedback loops, et cetera, it becomes overwhelming and they feel like they're not doing the job that they should be doing, at least in a good way. And we really need to be better at planning in a way that people feel like they're adding value and not just ticking boxes.
Adrian Cohn: To me, part of planning and part of this prioritization conversation is understanding the value of your content and the type of translation that you use with each of the different content types, specifically, the different ways you can get work, done human machine, the various methodologies. Have you started looking at and testing different ways of accelerating translation workflows?
Nancy Ferriera: I'll try to give this answer in a way that it doesn't sound too hard. But one of the things in my experience sounded... I mean, conversations with our colleagues that differentiates natively digital company with a company that is going through this digital transformation is the importance they give to data and to performance. So I see that companies that are digitally native are very much focused on, okay, what is the data? How many people are looking at it? What's the reaction, et cetera. So there are data sets and KPIs that are driving factors of the decision making.
Nancy Ferriera: In all fashion companies or companies that were built in the old world, let's call it that. It was still marketing brand awareness, brand awareness, brand awareness. And that shift towards data is something that is part of the digital transformation. And it's something that you have to constantly bring to the table and challenge. So it is something that we're definitely getting better at, but it is a work in progress, sorry. Because it was not the way things used to be.
Nancy Ferriera: Now there's much more and it was not the way it used to be. So yes, we are more and more looking at data and break the data points so that people make decisions about what content they have to create, and push, and roll out. But there's still lots of opportunities to get better at that.
Adrian Cohn: It's definitely not a small or simple problem to solve, especially considering everything we've talked about, the scale of your content, the number of languages, the diverse resources who are involved, what are some of the entry points that you think will be most effective to supporting your team in this digital transformation process? Is it data about translation and quality? Is it data about the content volume or how much money you're spending on the translation? Where's your head at?
Nancy Ferriera: Well, translation quality is an interesting one. I mean, it deserves a conversation up on it's own because it's so subjective. And to me, translation quality has one metric, and that is, can our customer do what they came to do on the website? If our customer receives an email, do they know what we're talking about? That's, for me, the most important thing and not if there is a commA where it shouldn't be, or there's a problem with capitalization. And that is quite tricky. But I think you need to start from the beginning. You have to have those metrics set up in your source, what would you want to achieve with this content.
Nancy Ferriera: And I think that things like speed of translation or even budgets, are a bit irrelevant, to be honest. Unless there is a massive bottleneck that delays a launch because of translation, then you have to look at it. But to me it's more like, is our co our customers understanding what we're talking about. And are they able to book a shipment or to know what's happening with their shipments when they receive information from us. Are they sending an email back? Are they calling customer service? Can they do what they're meant to do with the information that we're giving to them on the digital platforms?
Adrian Cohn: I see. So is the way that you're currently measuring this, how people interact with your products and services, you mentioned a couple of things. If they reply to the email, if they click a button, are those the type of data points that you're looking at?
Nancy Ferriera: We are looking at some of these data points, but it is really tricky as well. Because for example, the customer support calls is something that we really want to start digging into. But in such a big company, you can imagine how diverse this is. And also our customer service, the way they also collect the data is really... There is a lot of work that needs to be done on that side of things so we can actually measure and compare oranges. How do they say that again?
Adrian Cohn: They say apples to oranges.
Nancy Ferriera: Apples to apples.
Adrian Cohn: Actually they say apples to apples. That's the fair comparison. But just, as a tangential, I don't really understand the phrase myself. I get apples to apples. But if you say apples to oranges, it's meant to be vastly contrasting.
Nancy Ferriera: Exactly. But it's not. It's fruits.
Adrian Cohn: They're both fruits, they're both rounds, they're both approximately the same size and weight. I get it, they taste different and there's a skin on one that you can eat and there's a skin on another that you can, but it doesn't make sense to me.
Nancy Ferriera: If you have that as a translation, like a source, compare apples to apples, then you have to think about this.
Adrian Cohn: Well, that's a good point. And it actually goes back to something that we were talking through a little earlier, which is how do you interact with the stakeholder? Have you been finding that more of the content is hyper creative and that it simply will not work in different markets? And does that cause a bottleneck, or have you found that at FedEx, that the language is simple enough that it can transfer to different markets with ease?
Nancy Ferriera: Man marketing campaigns, aren't they a joy all the time? So if it's more functional texts on our website explaining our services, we try to be as simple as possible and as clear as possible, of course. But when it comes to marketing campaigns, people tend to get creative and sometimes it is really hard to really translate this. But we have come to a place now that we can actually raise a flag and say, "Hey guys, this might be difficult to translate. How are we going to do this? How are we going to bring this to the agency? Maybe we need to brief this to the regions first to together feedback."
Nancy Ferriera: They do involve us now in earlier stage, so we can give them our feedback and see how... Sometimes too late, but we've seen improvements as new campaigns come up. Although now not a lot of campaigns are going on, but we are getting involved and getting the question, "Do you see a problem here?" And then we can have the conversation on how to tackle it. And what I really find funny is that, if we, for example, are supporting our team and in Europe, most of the people working on the campaign, working with the agency that comes up with the taglines and all of that, are not English native speakers, and still because marketing and taglines in English sounds so great.
Nancy Ferriera: They don't see the difficulty about translating certain things. So for example, our last campaign for Europe was, belief in possibilities. Believe in possibilities is such... I mean, even the word believe or the verb to believe, can have so many connotations in so many countries... In so many as are so many languages, sorry, even religious foundation. So the moment that you translate the word to believe, it sounds like a religious thing. And that was something that we had to work with and see how we could sort it out. Some countries sorted out better than others. Some countries decided to live in English, of course.
Nancy Ferriera: But it's always very interesting to have this conversations and to see how... I feel like now we are involved earlier on, probably because there was a point that they were fed up with us complaining about it. [inaudible 00:43:42] complaining translation.
Adrian Cohn: I think that's such a cool example that you've offered. And it really illustrates the challenges of translation that somebody who is a source content creator may simply not think about. And, to me, it just reinforces the value of localization teams. And it helps me to think through, what is the appropriate framing for localization in today's world? There is so much content and that's not changing. There will be more content, and there will be more diverse content types.
Adrian Cohn: And the market opportunities will expand having somebody with the expertise to recognize and to work with content creators, to ensure messaging and campaigns are set up for success. Before they even hit the translation team, is essential to realizing a high quality service for the end user.
Nancy Ferriera: We actually have some content creators in the digital team. We have copywriters as well for certain types of contents, and they have been trained about this. And then, when they come up with something, they come to us and tell us, "Hey, we're thinking about this email or about this tagline," or whatever are, what do I think. Is it meant to be difficult to translate? And sometimes the copywriters also offer alternatives for translations, but that only happens when the content is created by our own team internal team. But when it's outsourced to an agency, that's a bit more difficult. I think there is there's a gap there for ad agencies. [crosstalk 00:45:42].
Adrian Cohn: Let's group in and focus on the high value statements.
Nancy Ferriera: I mean, you see it all the time. I work with other big brands and you're like, "Come on guys, you know that you sell your products in non English speaking countries. Why do you come up with this tagline that is impossible translate?" I mean, not everyone can get away with just do it.
Adrian Cohn: That's a pretty solid tag.
Nancy Ferriera: I know. And it works in English. And some conferences blasted in English because they'll say this says a lot. But not a lot of brands can get away with it.
Adrian Cohn: Three words that almost everybody will understand universally and certainly an icon.
Nancy Ferriera: As [crosstalk 00:46:29].
Adrian Cohn: Right. That folks will not forget. So Nancy, if you think about everything you've accomplished and everything you've learned over the years in localization, what's your vision for the industry and for the space and for what you do at FedEx on the near term and the long term?
Nancy Ferriera: I always say the same. I really hope that the value that we bring to companies increases. And I do see changes, of course, in the industry, how brands want to invest and understand the importance of investing in this expertise. Still not at the level that we would like to. It's really funny. We always say that you will never go to a developer and tell them, "Hey, I saw the code that you wrote. Maybe you should think about doing it in a different way." But a lot of people come to us to give us advice on our own area of expertise, because everyone that speaks more than two languages know how to translate. Or people think it's just simple. Just put it through the Smartling and it will come back.
Nancy Ferriera: And you really need to be repeating your story and willing to repeat your story over and over again, because people take it for granted. You go to our websites and you'll know that if you click on the little flag, you will have the option to change your language. And nobody thinks about what happens, how did it get there? So I hope that we come to a place that people understand that it's not just magic. There are lots of people working on it. And then the effort that you put into creating your content originally, should be the same effort you put in rolling out the content in the multiple languages your customers are on. So I really hope that more and more companies understand the value of this.
Adrian Cohn: And is this something that you're actively working on internally at FedEx to help [crosstalk 00:48:58].
Nancy Ferriera: Every day.
Adrian Cohn: Every day.
Nancy Ferriera: So every day. And I also want to mention the role of technology in all of this, because people don't associate languages with technology. Or like you said, in the beginning of the conversation, it's a very romantic thing. People think about people writing letters and dictionaries, and that's not how things work. So the fact that you need technology... And people should not be afraid of technology to make it possible. That's something that every day we are repeating. You need to let us help you. But then for that, you need to be open to explore how we can help you with our technology or with the technology that we offer.
Nancy Ferriera: So everyday is like... I don't want to say the word evangelize, because it's one of these business words. But it's really education and let people know what we're capable to do if they're willing to also help themselves.
Adrian Cohn: Well, you're not alone. I think there are a lot of teams out there who are doing the same thing. And that's what I'm excited about. When I think of the localization industry. I meet so many people who are project managers, or translators, or product owners that are trying to advance their business through language translation. And there is a common cause, which is spreading awareness about how complex language translation is, and how nuanced the details are, and how much opportunity there is to make the experience even richer for the end user.
Nancy Ferriera: One of the things that I've done, in a company like this, you have to have a slide deck with your story and keep on tweaking it every time. Because before you know it, you have to present what you do and how you can help other teams. So once these slides are ready and try to keep them updated with how we have changed or new things that we're doing. But there was this slide that I made three years ago. I wanted to make people understand that, it's not like you push a button and after a couple of days, it comes back translated by magic.
Nancy Ferriera: If we are covering, let's say 32 languages. So we have 32 translators, 32 editors, 32 in country reviewers. How many people we have there? And then we have project managers in our side, project managers in the LSP. So roughly every requests into our full scope of languages can keep around 120 people busy. And that's like the size of our department, a bit smaller. So that slide with the amount of people that are actually behind the curtains, has been an eye opener for a lot of people.
Adrian Cohn: It's an amazing thing to think about, before a single piece of content hits the end user, it goes through potentially up to 120 or 30 folks just to enable that experience for our worldwide audience.
Nancy Ferriera: Of course, we can say, yeah, you have machine translation. Now, why don't you do it? Well, because it's also not as easy. I mean, it's easier said than done. It's also not a silver bullet and not for all contents. We are thinking of empty, of course. The CR knots... We haven't taken that step yet, but very long overdue, of course. But yeah, it's still human work, there are still people behind it. And I also love it when people ask me, "But if we pay more money, do we get it quicker?" It's like, you still cannot make 2000 words possible. You cannot translate 2000 words in two hours, even if you're paying me 10,000 euros.
Adrian Cohn: Language takes time. And I think that it's a good reminder as well, as we come to a close, Nancy. That this is a very human process. There are real people who manage translation, there're real people who translate the work we were availed their lives. And we moved the world with words, campaign, and book that we released last year. And it's a very unique business function that you hold at FedEx. And it's one that I think is a really cool one. And I'm really appreciative, Nancy, that you took your time today to share your story.
Nancy Ferriera: Thank you. No, I really enjoyed it. And yeah, I'm always more than happy to share what we've been doing. By far not perfect, we still have lots of things to learn, and lots of new challenges. But we're getting there.
Adrian Cohn: We're getting there indeed. When sharing of this podcast, we will do, and your story we will do. We thank you so much, Nancy, for joining today.
Nancy Ferriera: Thank you. Take care, again.
Adrian Cohn: I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Nancy as much as I did. If you liked this episode of The Loc Show, hit the subscribe button so the next episode we'll be waiting for you. And if you loved the podcast, please leave a review. Five star reviews go a long way. If you're not ready to give a five star review, give our next episode a shot. We appreciate your listening. If you have any feedback or want us to interview one of your favorite people in localization, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time.