How a ‘Virtuous Cycle’ of People, Tech, Analytics Can Help Businesses Thrive

Jack Welde of Smartling SlatorCon San Francisco 2019

Smartling CEO Jack Welde outlined for the audience at SlatorCon San Francisco 2019 how to use people, data, and analytics to respond to trends in the needs of localization buyers.

“What’s not changed in 2019 is the idea that content is still driving all of this. Content is how you reach prospects, reach customers,” Welde said. But compared to 2009, translation management platform Smartling has noticed that number-crunching plays a bigger role in a company’s decisions around content.

A wise move, according to Welde, because global content production is more complex than ever. Large companies expanding into new international markets want to translate a high volume of content into many different languages, and they must take into account that their content is available on multiple platforms and updated frequently.

Two Case Studies

Smartling’s answer to these challenges is what Welde calls “the virtuous cycle.” In this model, skilled people provide services using foundational technology, which produces data that a business can analyze to determine which decisions contribute to growth.

Welde cited two case studies to illustrate his point. First, he described an e-commerce company that could not afford to translate information for the millions of products in its catalog using the traditional three-step human translation process (translation – editing – proofreading, or TEP).

Content related to top-selling products had already been translated, and the company wanted to know which items to prioritize next. Smartling used a dedicated API, which runs continuously and tracks product purchases in real time, to identify up-and-coming items as they gained popularity. From there, Smartling recommended what content should be translated, and by which method (humans, raw machine translation, or some combination).

“What’s not changed in 2019 is the idea that content is still driving all of this. Content is how you reach prospects, reach customers” — Jack Welde, CEO, Smartling

Welde’s second example was a major manufacturer with a fixed budget and exacting standards. The company approached Smartling to help translate 10% of its content into 10% more languages (that is, two more in addition to the 20 languages the company already handled). On top of budget constraints, the client considered high-end, human-only translation integral to its brand.

Smartling’s solution allowed the company to save 21% in translation costs in just three months by rethinking the one-size-fits-all TEP approach. Smartling used dynamic, rules-based workflows to find content where steps might be omitted intentionally. In many instances, an MT-generated 98% fuzzy match was more appropriate than a four-step human translation.

People-Powered Translation

Though companies use translation to sell products and services, Welde pointed out that, at its heart, translation is a “very human function.” Against the backdrop of exciting advances in neural MT and other technology, he said, “[…] where we are today, you’re using people for this.”

Jack Welde (Smartling)

Smartling sees that buyers realize this and have become more curious about the people behind their translations. Buyers want to know their translators’ names, learn about their experience, and make sure their translators understand the company’s product, values, and mission.

In response to this interest, Smartling sent a professional photographer around the world to profile Smartling’s top dozen translators. A compilation of these photos, Move the World with Words, will officially launch at a one-day conference hosted by Smartling in New York City on September 25, 2019.

SlatorCon San Francisco 2019 Speaker Presentations

SCSF19 Presentation Jack (Smartling)

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