Top 3 Disruptive Localization Trends for 2014

By Smith Yewell, CEO Welocalize

As we all forge ahead in 2014, I wanted to share with you some disruptive trends that I think will seriously influence the localization industry and affect our year. As CEO and Founder of Welocalize, I live and breathe localization. Last year, I spoke a lot about how we are re-evaluating our approach to the time, cost and quality equation. The fact is not all content is created equal and different content generates different levels of impact on our localization activities.

In the following I have detailed my top three disruptive trends for 2014. You will see there is a common and recurring theme of aligning quality programs with business requirements.


178983051More and more data is being produced by our translation management systems. The question is how to best apply the data in order to make informed decisions about the translation process and know more about the potential impact of the translated content. Especially in the area of quality.

To a great extent, what we need is not more data but more metadata. Data about data. In highly automated environments, which is what all large scale translation rely upon, translators are receiving streams of words and sometimes, but not always, associated information about those words. Without simple metadata flags like content type, subject area and target audience, the translators task is a whole lot more challenging and high quality harder to come by.  Metadata needs to be defined and agreed upon between clients, vendors and tool providers in order to go after higher quality. Speed and cost are also directly correlated to accurate metadata.

Community Translation

120905825Our industry has always relied upon a “crowd” or “community” of professional translators.  Crowdsourcing created nervousness as it gained buzzword status, because the implication was that it might also mean “free”.  Community translation is also creating a buzz.

Whatever the name, both approaches are different to the traditional translation process where only one or two translators work on a project. It is collaborative translation – getting the translation done via a large group of translators. The old saying applies to both, “you get what you pay for.”  And there is the challenge.

We need to link translation outcomes to business requirements rather than translation tasks to project requirements.  In this context, crowd, cloud and community all have their place in a finely tuned supply chain model.  Irrespective of the buzzword used, industry leaders will be defined by their ability to recruit, align to the task and reward high quality translators at high velocity, with predictable consistency.

Talent Management

174563509This is an interesting new view in managing translators and it is being driven by the edges of the market demand curve.  On the lesser quality demand side, a new talent profile is emerging to fill the need.  Less experienced talent profiles are finding a great place to get started in the industry.  It is not a question of bad or good translation.  It is simply a lower quality bar matched to the business requirement.

For low impact content like UGC or social data, less experienced translation talents teamed with translation automation can produce the desired results – especially when a fast, cost-effective solution is required. The same is true at the high end of the market but in the inverse way.  New technologies are gaining traction at the lower end of the market, and it will be interesting to see what happens at the higher end.

For a long time, all words were routed through the same pipe, and it is time the industry updated its plumbing.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments.

Happy New Year to you all.