Inside Rally Health’s Complex Journey Toward Localization Maturity

Localization is a revenue driver and the localization manager could be the missing link that helps a company develop an international strategy to target a wider market, Martin Guttinger told Slator. Working out of the San Francisco Bay Area, Guttinger is the Localization Manager of Rally Health, a digital health company that builds online and mobile tools so people can manage their healthcare needs.

The company was founded in 2010 in Washington DC by a then-21-year-old Grant Verstandig, who left college his sophomore year to launch Rally Health (previously Audax). His goal was to bridge the gap between the US consumer and the complex American healthcare system. When Optum, a subsidiary of healthcare giant UnitedHealth, invested in the company in 2014, annual revenue was at around USD 3m. In 2017, the company is expected to achieve an estimated USD 400m in annualized revenue and reach the 500-employee mark.

Rally Health is expanding internationally, according to Localization Manager Guttinger; and preparing their products for the global market entails more than just engineering and translation tasks.

Guttinger grew up in Zurich, Switzerland, where, he said, “I still have deep roots.” After working at a tax consulting firm, he decided to follow his passion by pursuing a degree in translation. He relocated to the US in 1994 and proceeded to spend most of his professional life at big tech companies like Unisys, Cisco, Yahoo!, and VMWare.

Martin Guttinger

In 2016, he joined Rally Health to, as he described it, help put its products into the hands of as many customers as possible worldwide. It was also last year that the company released a partial Spanish version of its fitness app, Rally Engage, for the US market, with continued language expansion set for 2018.

Another product, healthcare comparison-shopping app Rally Connect, is also available in Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish through a partner serving those markets.

According to Guttinger, volume is not the key consideration when it comes to product localization at Rally Health as translatable volumes are relatively modest. However, the clinical, legal, hosting, and reporting aspects are very complex. He believes, “We, the buyers, need to start focusing on quality rather than pricing.”

We may pay less per translated word, but pay more for defect management as a result of the decreased quality of translations

Guttinger said, at Rally Health, they consider localization “a growth driver in terms of revenue, but more importantly in the number of people we can serve.” It was to support the international expansion and continued growth of the company that the role of the localization manager was created.

What follows is our exclusive interview with Rally Health Localization Manager Martin Guttinger.

Slator: We understand Rally Health to be a young company and probably still developing in terms of the localization process. What does that mean for you being an experienced localization manager?

Guttinger: Rally Health is in the first stage [of localization maturity], reactive; meaning localization is done in response to market opportunities. In my role as localization manager, I want to evangelize localization and take us to the proactive stage. I am setting up project management processes to track cost, schedule, and functionality, and will use external translation resources and, potentially, engineering resources to support the effort. It is going to be a very interesting journey.

Slator: Can you tell us a bit about your localization process; what is outsourced to vendors versus individual freelancers, for instance?

Guttinger: We work with global suppliers specialized in the health and life sciences space. The translation and review work is outsourced. In the long term, we are modeling whether to set up a small team of localization program managers and software engineers tasked with localization process automation and internationalization architecture.

The localization manager can be the missing link to help companies develop an international strategy

Slator: Do you expect to work mostly with language service providers (LSPs) or use a SaaS-based platform to manage your own freelance linguists?

Guttinger: The plan of record is to use global LSPs to manage translation, localization, and testing efforts. I prefer to work with strategic partners who can manage the localization supply chain, including freelance translators.

Slator: What translation management systems do you use?

Guttinger: Rally has selected the Smartling platform as translation management solution and has fully automated the workflow through its APIs. Through this automation, new and updated strings are automatically pushed to and from translation and review. So, in terms of technology, Rally is further ahead than many.

Rally Health office

Slator: What are your thoughts on how translation management systems have developed over the past few years? There are now a lot more SaaS and cloud-based tools available. Do you think this will work for you at Rally Health?

Guttinger: I believe that OS-agnostic web and cloud-based translation management solutions will be the de facto standard in a few years’ time. Companies must be able to choose the best technology available, no matter what platform they are working on.

There are a lot of new players in the TMS space that are pushing translation technology to new levels and are starting to take market share away from traditional TMS providers. It is going to be interesting to see if key technology players, such as SDL, Lionbridge, and others, will jump on the bandwagon and either convert their existing technology into a cloud-based solution or create solutions from scratch.

Slator: As Rally Health’s Localization Manager, what will you work on next?

Guttinger: In 2017, we will focus on localization enablement, which includes the support of the metric system, multi-currency, date and time, string externalization, and more. Getting Rally products world-ready goes beyond simple engineering and translation tasks. We need to address clinical, legal, hosting, and reporting aspects, to name a few.

I believe that OS-agnostic web and cloud-based translation management solutions will be the de facto standard in a few years’ time

Slator: How do you see the role of Localization Manager for a tech company evolving over the next four to five years?

Guttinger: I think the role of the localization manager will become much broader than it is today and include strategic tasks such as market research and market development. Startups like Rally Health typically do not have overseas offices or staff to begin with, so the localization manager can be the missing link to help companies develop an international strategy.

Slator: How do you see localization pricing evolving over the coming years?

Guttinger: Pricing will likely erode further and, with that, the quality will deteriorate to the point where the work will be unusable. We, the buyers, need to start focusing on quality rather than pricing.

In my experience, the fully loaded cost of localization has not significantly changed in the last 20 years. What has changed is the way the cost is incurred. We may pay less per translated word or localization hour, but pay more for tasks such as review and defect management, which has increased dramatically as a result of the decreased quality of translations.

I always have paid, and always will pay my suppliers, whom I consider partners, fair prices for their work.