The Future of the Localization Industry by Smith Yewell

Smith at LocLeaders 2014The air is crisp and cold and the leaves are just about done falling here in Maryland. Fall 2014 was a busy conference season for Welocalize, and our LocLeaders Forum in Vancouver was the standout for me. We had a great turnout; great speakers and I think a lot of value gained by all from discussions with so many talented peers across our industry.

I kicked off LocLeaders with three interrelated topics that I see as key in the future of our industry: Logistics, Engagement and Usability.


Industry Challenge:  We have disconnected “plumbing” systems across our industry supply chain. This is inclusive of clients, multi-language vendors (MLVs) single-language vendors (SLVs) and translators. The impact is cost friction, velocity drag, inconsistent quality and incomplete business intelligence (BI) for buyers. The resultant environment is heads-down task oriented rather than broadly engaged business outcome-oriented.

Our Goal:  We are striving to innovate with clients to make it easier to solve business requirements in the context of what I refer to as “more than words.” We are working to connect disparate systems and resources to provide greater velocity and deeper business intelligence in an environment of openness, community and interoperability versus today’s “walled-garden.”


Industry Challenge:  We see the need for a more engaged and responsive community built uniquely for each client rather than the traditional translation conveyor belt. Linguists, the central resources in our industry supply chain, are largely operating in a disengaged “black box.” Many others in a traditional value chain operate in a heads-down, task-oriented workflow. This task and black box orientation creates challenges in job satisfaction, consistency, quality and scalability. The industry requires more visibility and engagement across the supply chain to support greater accountability, quality and overall satisfaction at all levels.

Our Goal: We are striving to move beyond the traditional focus on the “word” and move to a focus on the “talent” and incentivizing deeper engagement across the value chain. We are developing an online application called TalentSight to provide transparency into the linguistic “black box” and evolve beyond traditional vendor management into the more valuable discipline of comprehensive talent engagement.


Industry Challenge: Today, it is often reported that 20% or more of clients’ budgets are allocated to old-school translation reviews with questionable ROI and value.

Our Goal: We are collaborating with clients to reduce the standard review budget to a more efficacious business requirement-driven “sampling” approach organized around quality tiers. We are planning to augment sampling with a specialized usability offering to add greater insight and value around true localization requirements.

The three topics I describe above are mutually interdependent. To tackle one, we need to mutually tackle all three. We are striving for a fresh approach to the old-school problems and frustrations across our industry so we can deliver strategic value and true localization.

vision welocalizeOur Vision: We see the need for a more engaged and responsive community rather than the traditional translation conveyor belt. We are building our reputation around connected and engaged talent across the value chain rather than a traditional “words broker.” By connecting various systems in more efficient ways, we are working to reduce friction and provide more than “reporting” across isolated supply chain functions. We are pushing for deeper system-wide analytics that can inform critical decision-making and validate the impact of various choices on business objectives.

Thanks to all who took part in the LocLeaders Forum 2014 in Vancouver and I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.

I wish you a great holiday season!