Sunday, 10 September 2017

Translation - an Investment Linked to Growth

Translation in to and from  Swedish
Credit: GraphicStock
Willy Brandt: If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen. 

More languages lead to more business
Research has shown that both small and medium-sized Swedish companies use fewer languages in their customer communication that the corresponding companies in other European countries. German and Danish companies use an average of 12 languages and French companies use eight, while Swedish companies rely on just three. The difference is also reflected in the number of export countries per company, with Germany having 11 countries per company and France having eight, whereas Sweden only has four. 
Due to a lack of multilingualism, 20% of small and medium-sized Swedish companies lose out on export business. The corresponding figure for Germany is 8%, and for Denmark just 4%. It is clear that language limits Swedish exports unnecessarily, making it vulnerable when – using language as a tool – we could reach new growth markets while also gaining a better geographical spread and export growth.
“But Sweden is already an export nation,” you may well argue, and this is certainly true, but around 100 companies currently account for two thirds of our exports, with a group of just ten companies accounting for a full 40%. This leaves us vulnerable to the successes and failures, acquisitions and production decisions of a few companies. 
Not only do languages offer significant growth potential for small and medium-sized companies, increased exports from more companies also makes Sweden as a nation less vulnerable in terms of the balance of trade and employment.
The ability to understand is crucial
As consumers, 30% of us are not at all keen on online shopping if we do not understand the information fully (and the same is true generally – there are also geographical differences). Asians are least inclined to buy in such situations, and Russians are also very wary. Swedes are among the group who are most comfortable, but this is mostly an advantage for foreign companies who want to attract Swedish customers.
As consumers we are better at English and are more worldly wise when it comes to information and user interfaces, but despite all this we are at heart most comfortable with our own native language. Studies show clearly that when faced with a choice between an English version and a localised version of software we are 4.5 times more likely to choose the localised version. 67% would even do so if the localised product were more expensive! If the English-language product also lacked product information in the local language it is fairly certain that the customer wouldn’t even look at it, let alone buy it.
Unused potential
Language economics is a modern, interdisciplinary field dealing with the economic significance of languages, language use and language skills. There is concrete added economic value to be gained both by individuals and companies and by nations. Research within language economics has estimated that language barriers reduce bilateral trade by up to 75-170%, and according to the Swedish Federation of Business Owners language skills can make a difference of between 7% and 43% in international business.
Expanding geographic reach is one of the best and most natural routes in order to achieve growth. We have to stop looking at translation and localisation as simply an expense and start looking at them as an investment instead – an investment that is intimately linked to growth.

Talking so that customers understand
Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, is said to have declared in the 1970s that “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.”And this still rings true today. As customers, we are four times more likely to buy from a website that ‘speaks’ our own language.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Successful Content Translation and Localisation

Translation of content
Credit: GraphicStock 

Here are a few steps you should bear in mind when setting the stage for scalable and sustainable translation management. Leading it within a localization or, ideally, globalization framework takes it to the highest level of performance and satisfaction.

Step 1: Understand Requirements to Engage With Local Customers
Prior to starting any translation effort, you should clearly understand what local customers want from content and walk in their shoes. Identifying where translation comes to play in the customer journeys sets expectations properly and is crucial to determine the impact of content translation on local experiences in a tangible manner. More often than not, you will end up going beyond content translation and addressing actual localization to accommodate all linguistic, cultural, and functional needs in a granular and holistic fashion. Understanding all customer facets is a must to bring translation to a good end. The content translation must be an experience-driving process.

Step 2: Plan and Budget
As content translation has to be completed quickly and accelerated whenever safely possible, it also has to be planned and incorporated without compromising quality in content or product road maps. It should be considered an investment in content operations and experience delivery rather than just a cost. Translation budgets should be all-inclusive to avoid unexpected issues and iterations at later stages. In the digital world, translating content requires formatting and testing it for all the ecosystems to which it is delivered. As with many things, the lowest cost, in theory, may become a higher cost in practice. And not translating content may have a hidden cost too. The content translation must be a time-saving and cost-effective process.

Step 3: Select Professional Resources to Maintain Quality
Whether you intend to work with internal or external resources, you must ensure you choose people who are seasoned experts in translation practices and standards. You should bring aboard linguists, language analysts, terminologists, graphical specialists, or information engineers according to the scope and category of content. Do not assume that any multilingual person is a professional linguist just because all professional translators are multilingual people. Their ability is tied to their real expertise and experience of professional translation more than to their academic background. Also, make sure your translation resources have a seat at the content and product management table, together with stakeholders, so that they can stand out and develop their role. The content translation must be an inclusive process.

Step 4: Streamline Workflows to Optimize Roles and Responsibilities
The content translation should not be based on dozens of workflows. It is much better to define a few workflows that cover major types of content and involve the same type of resources. For example, translating video content does not follow the same path as translating product documentation. Allocating roles, responsibilities, and permissions matters a lot in order to keep translation flowing between all parties. Critical steps such as quality control, stakeholder review, or content sign off should not be split between too many people who may have different views and conflicting opinions.

Step 5: Leverage Technology and Assets to Boost Performance
Technology and assets should be used for the benefits they bring to translation management (i.e., increased productivity, quality, and speed in the short and long run). The key to ROI here is assembling the winning combination between technology and human intelligence. Typical robust tools include management platforms connecting all involved parties to submit, manage, track, and deliver content within a unified environment. It is also worth considering and using computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools that enable translation resources to work more quickly and consistently across projects. Machine translation deserves more attention than ever before in light of recent progress in the field, and it can make a real difference in handling large amounts of repetitive and highly structured content. Along the same lines, creating and updating assets (such as glossaries or translation memories) drive costs down while moving consistency and accuracy up. The content translation must be a technology-enabled process.

Step 6: Capture Value and Measure Performance to Drive Growth
Normal key performance indicators allow you to measure major effectiveness milestones and factors such as timely delivery, cost containment or reduction, individual productivity, or amounts of translated content per project. You should add some content-related metrics to dive deeper into translation management efficiency and highlight its value to the business globally and customer experiences locally—for instance, the actual cost per word (word is a currency in translation management and analysis), the percentage of reused or repurposed translated content, the number of content changes needed after stakeholder review(s), the level of memorability, and relevance for local customers. The content translation must be a profit-driving process.