Why is translating stuff so complicated?
I mean, good translation isn’t easy, and managing it can be a major pain point. But it’s not as convoluted and impenetrable as most language service providers would have you believe.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, said in a Charlie Rose interview earlier this year: “It’s really complex to make something simple… My goal is to simplify complexity. I just want to build stuff that really simplifies our base human interaction.”
Why haven’t localization vendors been able to simplify translation management for their customers? As a whole, the industry seems to be fixated on creating as many acronyms, initialisms, and numeronyms as possible (TM, GMS, TBX, L10N, G11N, XLIFF, XML, etc.) and producing complex localization workflow tools (translation management systems, controlled authoring systems, quality metrics, ISO standards, translator certifications, and more), when what being a good LSP (there’s another one!) really comes down to is providing our clients with what they want most: good quality translations, on time and under budget.
Although most LSPs promote themselves as being technologically superior or leaders in technological development, a lot of all the fancy tools that are out there for business use are just plain junk. For example, several years ago one of our clients purchased a complex, must-have translation management system to help them control their growing translation assets. Slick sales guys did a great job of pitching them on the benefits of TM consolidation, content filtering and other ways to maximize translation reuse and improve translation quality. A million dollars in license fees later, we and their other preferred language service providers still use it as a glorified FTP client to send/receive translation memories through their servers.
(Had they called me first, I could have saved them $999,966 by pointing them towards the world’s best FTP client, Transmit! :))
It just goes to show that there’s a real disconnect between what translation buyers need and what localization vendors are selling. It’s precisely because of all these overly complicated processes and lack of transparent, direct communication about what we actually do that this disconnect exists. And because this method of overly complicating matters to protect the value of language services is embraced by all the big boys (re: dinosaurs) in our industry, the standard has been set, and nothing changes. Processes remain impenetrable; language technology remains lacking in usability.
At last year’s Localization World in Seattle, I chatted with a newcomer to our industry, Colin Roche of CloudCrowd’s Serv.io. Colin is an amazing entrepreneur whose why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? invention has sold millions in Walmart, Target, Office Depot and stores around the world. Colin asked me, “Why does this industry seem so closed to new ideas, new ways of thinking?”
I couldn’t agree more. We (that is, language service providers) all need to embrace “new ideas” like the cloud, Machine Translation and other technology that, although largely viewed as threats, in the end will help our clients localize more content, quickly and at lower costs. Companies like Serv.io, MyGengo and others are fulfilling a need at a low cost: fast human translations that produce good enough results for many projects and industries. There will always be a need for professional LSPs, but companies like these are shaking up the industry and will be the ones to watch for their innovation.
At CSOFT, we’re also focused on innovation—we’re committed to creating powerful, bleeding-edge tools that are painless to use and will greatly increase productivity for our partners. We want to make your life simpler. Our philosophy with tools and technology is to provide you with easy accessibility, minimal hassle, and greater efficiency.
- must be easy to operate
- must be collaborative
- must help measure and improve productivity
CSOFT’s approach to this is cloud-based, customizable technology that helps you do your job better. We want you to emerge with more.
For more information about CSOFT’s innovative tools, like TermWiki.com, a web-based terminology management and resource portal, and ReviewIT, an online collaborative document review and annotation platform, feel free to e-mail me or give us a call. All the contact information you’ll need can be found below. Seriously, give these tools a try and you will emerge with more.
If you’re interested in learning more about translation, localization, or multilingual terminology management, feel free to contact Matt Arney via e-mail () or have CSOFT.