Rubric's tips for Web translation projects in 2014
With more than a third of the global population online, Web content production is growing faster than ever and website translation increasingly features on executive agendas.
This has far-reaching implications for site owners. What should you bear in mind when translating in 2014?
Growing or showing?
Cynical as it seems, executives should ask themselves whether they want a translation in order to grow their markets, or to give the appearance of a global service or offering to impress a domestic market. (Our experience of translation projects across the globe suggests that this is not at all far-fetched.)
In the latter case, be careful – something whipped up for internal consumption need not be that great, but poorly translated public-facing websites put readers off.
Translation implies much more than the ability to use a dictionary correctly. Each new language version of a website has the same content production cycle components as the original text and updates, and moreover introduces additional technical complexities.
As such, translation requires project, technology and market experience in the regions and industries that the website targets.
Local knowledge is a supreme differentiator. Translating a US website into German isn’t as simple as paying someone on your staff. Depending on the market you’re trying to reach (Namibia has different numbering conventions from Germany), your audience (affluent Germans speak a more formal German than youth), and a range of other factors, translation can be a tricky proposition.
Given the inherent complexity of translation, companies must accept that they will have to expend very nearly the same amount of resources on each new language project – more if they undertake multiple concurrent projects. For example, each new translation text must align with marketing strategy and also integrate with the original (to stay current with subsequent updates).
Machine translation (MT) services like Google Translate are a double-edged sword. On the one hand they can help companies cope with the sheer volume of content on the Web needing translation, but on the other they can obstruct the reader’s understanding.
Human translators, in turn, are expensive and their efforts do not scale. But translation services that use technology to aid human translators with translation memory databases, software integration skills and automation of certain tasks can greatly speed up and scale translation, and deliver outcomes of the highest quality.
Cloud-based (‘crowd-sourced’) translation services tend to be heavily funded by venture capital of late, but the value proposition of these services is questionable.
Many promise a painless experience, when translation is anything but simple, and to approach it as such would put the outcome at risk.
When the hosted translation service goes down, a service level agreement will not magically meet your customers’ expectations of on-time availability of new-language versions of your website.
Cloud services also tend to throw any available resource at isolated portions of content, which disregards the best practice of conducting translations within their proper context.
What about the proliferation in social media content? Companies appear loath to translate social media participation by consumers, and even the Facebook and Twitter accounts under their control. In many instances, they view this as inviting complexity (having to take on more content projects and customer service capacity). As long as their domestic markets outweigh others in importance, this will not change.
Another reason is legacy marketing attitudes. Many companies want to control their social presence in the way they are used to controlling advertising. But if you want to grow your markets, you may want to give your consumers in new markets as much say as you do those in foundation markets.
Focus on total cost
Companies are fixated on significant differences in the quoted cost of a translation, when they should factor in the cost of fixing poor translation outcomes or inefficient processes. These could entail re-translating, approving and loading each language version separately every time the original changes.
But if you use a language service provider that employs computer-aided techniques, changes will propagate automatically across language versions, because of language database integration and automation. Updates further require minimal project time, because the provider’s translation memory database already contains much of the core client text.
For companies with market-focused expansion plans, translation cannot be a throwaway effort. Our experience is that someone just entering into this realm may be content to use MT, crowd-sourcing or someone on their staff, but a more sophisticated understanding will lead them to professional translation services aided by technology.
Rubric South Africa, which has been active since 1997, has facilitated African language translations for Microsoft, Firefox Mozilla, Oxford University Press, RhinoAfrica, Development Bank of Southern Africa and Jupiter Drawing Room.Rubric’s headquarters are in Edinburgh, Scotland with offices in San Jose (CA), Danbury (CT) and Cape Town (South Africa). For more information please visit: www.rubric.com
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.