Thought Leadership Discussions at LocLeaders Silicon Valley 2017

Insights from guest panelist, Mimi Hills, Director of Product Globalization, VMware

Every year I look forward to the fall conferences on globalization and I relish the chance to participate in Welocalize LocLeaders Forum. It requires that I take stock of what I’ve experienced over the year, analyze what I’ve learned and organize my thoughts into coherent statements.

I jumped at the opportunity to join Olga Beregovaya’s panel at LocLeaders Forum Silicon Valley 2017, “The Impact of Technology: How cutting-edge technology is shaping the way we do business and deliver global content.” Olga is pretty cutting edge herself, widely admired for her wisdom on the latest in Machine Translation (MT). With my fellow panelists, Wayne Bourland from Dell, Fernando Caros from Dell EMC and Michael Milos from Agilent Technologies, all industry experts, I enjoyed working through Olga’s tough questions.

One of Olga’s more complex questions was about what we thought was slowing down the adoption of new technology in the localization industry. For this discussion, we mentioned big investments in major translation management systems (TMS), whether home-built or bought; a tendency to stick to tried-and-true processes; and companies where localization is an afterthought and you must fight for every investment. As much as we might enjoy following each exciting new development in globalization technology, we don’t always have the opportunity to implement it in our daily jobs.

We also talked about a concept discussed at the TAUS Annual Conference 2017, of how MT technology is considered to be on the cusp of a “quantum leap” forward in quality, with neural MT (NMT). Some are waiting for that leap to prove itself, but I am glad that VMware has already piloted MT for our documentation so that we’ll be able to hit the ground running when customizable NMT hits the market. I’m grateful for my co-panelist Wayne Bourland; he’s a pioneer in putting MT to work for Dell (VMware’s parent company) and has willingly shared his industry learnings for a long time.

Another concept initially discussed at the TAUS conference and brought forward to our LocLeaders Silicon Valley 2017 panel discussion was the idea that NMT can be “deceptively fluent.” NMT can get the grammar correct but there are certain things it misses, such as negatives and double negatives. Our post-editors may get bored reading segment after perfect segment, but we don’t want them to mess up just because it looks good, but is incorrect. For example, saying “there is danger of electrocution” instead of “there is no danger of electrocution.”

The discussions escalated as the audience contributed on how they were utilizing MT for different content types and how certain types of content needed a more customized approach. Clearly, no one felt that a “one size fits all” approach would work for anyone. Each person who contributed to the discussion specified why their approach worked for their company’s product or service type, content type, need for speed, quality, cost savings, or customer perception.

Many global business leaders and industry professionals attend Welocalize LocLeaders Forums for the lively audience interaction. LocLeaders gives us a chance to exchange ideas, meet peers with shared concerns who we can continue to network with and benchmark ourselves against others’ best practices. I’m sure many of us returned to work the following week and changed at least one process, asked their vendor a new question, or investigated an approach we hadn’t thought about before. It’s also great to come to a fun venue like the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for a day to get out of the office, but the real luxury is the time we’re given to take a step back and think about how we do our jobs and organize the work in our teams.

I’m thankful for Welocalize CEO Smith Yewell’s opening words about strategy. He encouraged us to take a step back and see the big picture. What are our executives thinking? How does globalization fit in with the company strategy and how can we use the ideas that are important at the “C level” to show that what we are doing in our teams fits with the company strategy?

Finally, with the new ideas garnered during LocLeaders, how can we make changes in what we do to help drive that company strategy? If we show we are making strategic decisions, next time we won’t be discussing the slowing down of adoption of new technology, but instead the wild speed of adoption.


Mimi Hills is Director of Product Globalization at VMware. Mimi took part as a guest panelist at LocLeaders Silicon Valley 2017.