It’s a classic catch-22. A language service provider (LSP) needs to test candidates to build a reliable, competent pool of freelancers to deliver on a specific project. But without such a freelancer pool, designing such a test in-house would be difficult to impossible.
So the LSP may need to hire another provider to create a test and grade candidates, which will then require a fair amount of investment.
On the freelancer’s side, having to sit for a test may rankle; not only because of the time investment but also if the language professional has solid credentials. Or is wary of unscrupulous LSPs that assign work to freelancers in the guise of “tests” just to save a few dollars. But the reality is that certain high-profile clients or those working in domain-specific milieus may indeed require the linguists they hire to undergo testing.
These dilemmas and more are discussed in the free Slator primer, Unpacking the Contentious Matter of Testing Freelance Translators, published on November 13, 2020 — a must-read for LSPs and freelancers alike. In a same-day poll, we asked readers if LSPs should pay freelancers for taking tests.
More than half said freelancers must “always” (≈52%) be paid for taking tests. Over a third said the issue needs to be tackled case by case, while a tenth said tests should be unpaid. (Erratum on poll: The November 13 poll mistakenly included a third option that garnered three votes, which we did not include in the final tally.)
The Year of the TMS (and other tech)
Is 2020 the year of the TMS? Sure looks like it given the string of investments in translation management system (and adjacent loc) technologies this year — just click here and start scrolling. Among the most recent, TMS tech and marketplace provider Smartcat’s USD 14.6m Series B. (CEO Ivan Smolnikov shared the Smartcat ethos in this exclusive interview with Slator). Of course, who can forget RWS’ acquisition of SDL (of Trados fame), which became 100% complete on November 4, 2020.
All this makes one curious about what earth-shattering tech breakthrough happened to warrant such interest from investors. We queried Slator readers on November 6 and the responses indicate that, at least from the user’s point of view, there doesn’t have to be one.
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The majority of respondents think that their CAT tool / TMS “improved somewhat” (≈60%) over the past three years, while less than a fourth said that the tech essentially stayed the same. Only a minority (17.6%) said their CAT / TMS “improved a lot.”
As pointed out by Sri Chandrasekar of VC fund Point72 Ventures, back in the pre-Covid fall of 2019 at SlatorCon San Francisco, investors are interested in language tech simply because it “enables a whole new class of language translation, expanding the size of the market.”
By the way, the good news is that no respondent said that their CAT / TMS got worse.
Still Wondering if SEO Is Important?
Following a well-attended free webinar on SEO for LSPs, the experts over at digital marketing firm SocialSEO tackled three things LSPs should consider before launching a digital campaign. Among the quick tips: LSPs can build on the service they provide others to generate future marketing opportunities through their website. And LSPs should avoid using industry jargon and initials that confuse search engines. (Case in point: Google understands “LSP” to be something entirely different!)
In Slator’s October 30 poll, we asked readers how important SEO or web searches are in their funnel-building efforts. More than 40% said it is either Critical (19.5%) or Very important (22%), while a fifth said it is Somewhat important (19.5%). About a fourth said they do not consider SEO important (24.4%), while the rest (14.6%) went with “What’s SEO?”
Will Terps Ever Go Back to the Booth?
It seems everyone hunkering down for the long haul of this pandemic has led to more business for VRI providers, especially those operating in healthcare. Just a few examples: Cloudbreak Health, which offers Martti for remote interpreting, and Stratus Video, owned by AMN Healthcare Services. There’s also LanguageLine’s dramatic growth from increased VRI demand and the US government’s emergency expansion of Medicare coverage for telehealth services. Even Google injected a cool USD 100m into telehealth.
On the remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) front, Zoom, which launched Zapps, had not, at the time of coverage, integrated an interpretation platform. But Zoom will work with several RSI providers, according to Kim Ludvigsen, founder of Interprefy, which already works with Zoom. (Ludvigsen told Slator they have been “delivering interpreting through Zoom for almost a year and, since Covid-19, the business has exploded.”)
With the increasing uptake of remote interpreting services, will interpreters even return to their booths after Covid? The majority of Slator readers polled on October 23 said they will but “less often” (58.5%). Less than a third said interpreters will “definitely” return to physical booths. Very few (9.4%) were of the opinion that “the future is RSI.”