Why is TAUS calling executives from the translation industry – both customers and suppliers – to come to a special Industry Leaders Forum in Salt Lake City on June 25-26? What is the urgency? And why do we take a day-and-a-half out of the busy schedules of these important women and men?
There is a simple and short answer to these questions: because the technology is ahead of us!
The technology has taken a quantum leap forward in many fields, of course, but in particular in our own field of creating and translating content and connecting people around it. We know all that, don’t we? And yet, the localization sector is deeply divided. Divided between craftsmanship and the productive intelligence derived from massive data. We are all struggling to strike a sensible balance between the human and the machine.
This division in the translation industry can, however, be better framed as a division between insiders and invaders. The invaders are new entrants in the sector, unencumbered by traditions of the trade, and fully committed to creating content that’s open to world audiences right from the get-go. The insiders, on the other hand, carry the weight of decades of hard labor to make things constantly work just a little better. The invaders are inventing new solutions that surprise us. The insiders are preoccupied with the world as they know it and seek to squeeze another drop of efficiency out of the existing state of affairs.
And so it happened that the translation industry was taken somewhat by surprise by big-tech companies that began launching ever better automated translation. And the magical march continues now with automated speech translation, personalized content creation and delivery, including images, and video, along with a squad of new, smaller and even smarter, players joining the band of innovators.
In December 2017 TAUS published Nunc Est Tempus, an e-book that was a call for action to every actor in the global translation sector: now is the time to redesign your translation business. But throughout the year 2018 we started to realize that that was easier said than done. If you are ‘playing’ in the mainstream of the market, you are part of an ecosystem and you can’t change unless that whole ecosystem changes with you. So, in October 2018 we published the manifesto Fixing the Translation Ecosystem. The message was twofold:
1. We are all locked in into models, agreements, workflows, conventions, metrics, skill sets, systems and tools.
2. If we want to change that because we want to reap the benefits from the neural technology revolution that will help prevent us from being marginalized, then we must work together as industry leaders to fix the translation ecosystem.
So that’s the story. And that’s why around sixty of the executives, business and budget owners from the big tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yandex, Oracle and eBay; from the large language service providers like Lionbridge, RWS Moravia, SDL, Welocalize, ULG, Amplexor; along with some smaller and medium-sized service providers like Alpha, Trusted Translations; and of course from the technology and platform providers like Lilt, Smartling, Memsource and MateCat, will all be coming together in Salt Lake City on June 25-26 . Not to just have another conference. But to really agree on how we can work together to fix the gaps and catch up with the rapid technology shift that is changing our business. Our goals and deliverables will consist of a better understanding of how we can align our metrics and measure our business, how we can secure access to precious data and business intelligence, and how we can upshift the skills and knowledge among not just worker bees but managers as well. Not one single company can achieve this alone.
And that’s not the end of the story. It’s in fact a new beginning. If we can fix the translation ecosystem, then we can enter a new era that we described before as not business as usual. The skills and talents that reside in our industry can be used and optimized to help many more industries, organizations and companies reach larger global audiences speaking a much wider range of languages. What used to be called the localization industry is now becoming mature. It is shifting from an inward-looking, process-oriented sector to an outward-looking solution-driven industry. Farewell Localization. Welcome Global Content.
Jaap van der Meer founded TAUS in 2004. He is a language industry pioneer and visionary, who started his first translation company, INK, in The Netherlands in 1980. Jaap is a regular speaker at conferences and author of many articles about technologies, translation and globalization trends.