LocWorld37 Warsaw: The summary

LocWorld is the leading conference for companies in the translation industry

LocWorld is without doubt the leading event for the localization industry. We could spend ages listing the sheer number of reasons why, but the following facts really do make it stand out:

  • the number of participants who come from every corner of the globe imaginable (>400)
  • the seniority of the attendees (most people attending are CEOs, CTOs and senior localization managers)
  • world renowned industry speakers (Renato Beninatto, Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, Gary Lefman, Andrew Lawless, Jaap van der Meer…)
  • the economic power of the global companies present at the conference (e.g. Salesforce, Facebook, Google, Ikea, Adidas, Swisscom, YOOX…), who pride themselves on taking every opportunity to learn all they can about current trends and development opportunities, plus exchanging ideas with the world’s best language service providers.

How does LocWorld work?

If you haven’t attended a LocWorld conference yet, here’s how it works. Up to seven lectures on specialist topics are held simultaneously over three days.

In addition, there are coffee and lunch breaks as well as evening events, which prove very useful for networking. A trade fair at which leading technology providers and language service providers can showcase their services tops off the information on offer.

What were the topics?

A lot of work goes into preparing the programme to ensure that the most current of issues are always covered. The main topics that were focused on this year were:

  • Accelerated digitization
  • Localization pitfalls
  • Machine translation
  • Correct content management

In other words, when it comes to digitization, the translation industry has to deal with exactly the same problems as companies in other industries – we’re not exempt just because we work in translation.

Digitization offers wonderful possibilities and advantages that we only dreamed of years ago, but at the same time presents extremely big challenges. Many companies do not yet seem to understand how big these challenges really are and that time is an essential factor.

Have we missed the boat?

The multitude of target countries with their different cultures (i.e. buying behaviour, preferences, approach, taboos…) means that communication in foreign languages is structured, controlled and checked flexibly and attentively.

Nowadays, you have to address the customer in their native language. English only works as a last resort (except of course in English-speaking countries).

Machine translation is gaining a completely new weight with neural machine translation engines which will continue to revolutionize the translation industry in the coming years. Here, too, many companies, but also many translators, are not up to date. Anyone who makes fun of “Google translate” is welcome to do so, even though compared to 10 years ago, the difference in quality is unimaginable.

But those who are still making fun today should really take a look at what professional MT engines are capable of today.

It’s time to stop laughing!

Content management is a very important topic, because content is becoming more extensive. Here too, many companies are still a long way off being up to date, neither organizationally nor technologically. And, as already mentioned above, time’s not gonna wait for no one, and is an essential factor in view of strongly growing volumes.

The challenges are clear. Of course, large companies can use different levers compared to small and medium-sized companies. But this is exactly where technological development plays into our hands: solutions that were unaffordable or technically infeasible years ago are now widely available.

The right solution for specific cases

Reliability is a very important word in our industry. Here’s an example of what we have to rely on in translation management:

  • reliable translators
  • reliable translation agencies
  • reliable technology companies

who offer exactly the right solution for the customer’s requirements, encompassing a spirit of partnership and flexibility.

A critical look at yesterday’s future

This year’s conference, however, raised a number of questions regarding the ability to innovate and the willingness to change within the translation industry.

What we saw a good two years ago came back round again in a similar form last year, and even this year again too. Technological progress is one side. The other, which is much more important, are the companies that are prepared to implement and actually do implement this technological progress.

After the conference, Sarah Pokorna from Retro Digital, an innovative marketing agency in Dublin, among others, gave some thought to this in her blog article “Is innovation about to wipe out the Dinosaurs?”).

My personal impression goes in a similar direction: the spirit of optimism and innovation that was widespread just a few years ago has got stuck somewhere in many companies. I suspect it has seeped away in corporate communications between the employees of the departments and the decision-makers in senior management.

And that’s where dinosaurs run out of air. Exactly the same point where startups can take off (and actually take off, as many current examples prove to us). Risk capital is called that because you bet on risk. But not to burn money, but because the possible success can be huge, perhaps disruptive.

Tragic but true

Of course, start-ups also fail. Not all of them, though. Anyone who does not take a step into the future in the first place will fail 100%. Some start-ups are extremely successful. We all know these success stories. And the stories of the corporate dinosaurs.

Finally, the format, which has remained unchanged for years, and the frequently recurring content of the LocWorld conference as a whole also make us think. In the view of the conference topics, at least those I have spoken about, innovation must also be lived here. It is not enough to title the conference “It’s all about Digitization“. Every child now knows that. What is missing is the next step, implementation.

We – that means: our customers – need concrete solutions.

I spoke about solutions at the Smartcat Partner Day in Warsaw after LocWorld. Some approaches I’ve touched upon in my blog article.

Thank you for reading!

Best regards,
Christian Faust

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