A Day at GBBS: Brexit or Not, Going Global

localisation, expansion to the French market

Every year Kensington Olympia hosts The Great British Business Show, a huge meeting point for Britain-based companies of all sizes and industries. This year was no exception with the major truck show taking place on November 17th and 18th. All aspects of business were represented and of course, as a language service provider, I was particularly interested in the ‘Going Global’-themed sessions.

Going Global offered several interventions from professionals of the international business development industry, including localization services. For businesses looking to expand, this was a valuable opportunity to learn about the dos and don’ts of localization. Here is a little digest of the subjects discussed by the panellists.

Why localizing

Why having it done by professionals? This question was omnipresent in interventions from language service providers, which is a giveaway of how language professions are still perceived. Comparatively, no carpenter would make a case of why you should use their services to repair your roof instead of doing so yourself…

In this recurring argument, one figure stood out: 72% of people surfing the internet do so exclusively in their own language. If your contents are not localized, let alone translated, they will probably never know who you are. More languages equal more content for your company, therefore more traffic and better SEO. And if your contents are localized, there will be more engagement from people (less bounce rate) and even better SEO.

Evaluate your needs

The speakers gave their audiences a series of valuable tips to run a localization project as smoothly as possible. As repeated throughout the event, translation, and particularly good translation, comes at a cost. Before rushing into the process, it is therefore important to evaluate your needs, keeping the end user in mind. For a sound localisation project management, determine the following parameters from step 1, with the help of your service provider:

  • What documents should be translated?
  • In what language? Choose your languages carefully: 90% of online traffic is done in 13 languages only. Amongst the most significant are: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Chinese and Japanese.
  • What technology should be used?

In order to answer these questions as accurately as possible, market research and the study of search engine bids are essential. Once all these elements are determined, it is crucial to set a clear brief, that the translator or copywriter will be able to follow.

Looking into the future

I lost count of the episodes in the big Machine Translation debate. But at GBBS, I was horrified to hear one of my fellow translators state that, thanks to MT, translators’ fees were getting cheaper and that, eventually, MT would replace human translators. Not only do these assertions hurt our credibility as a profession, they also hide two realities that have placed, and will place, the translator at the centre of the technological evolution:

  • First, MTs will always need linguists to maintain and update them. IT specialists alone will not be able to develop satisfactory MT, because language is not their expertise. They need to work with linguists.
  • The speakers also spoke about how a lot of the marketing contents that need to be quickly published (tweets, for instance) are no longer translated. Instead, it is drafted directly in French by copywriters, who share their writing skills with translators. This is how a translator like myself also provides top quality transcreation and copywriting services.

In a globalized world, localization is the opportunity to adapt the company’s voice to a new market, creating a more competitive offer. Better preparation of the project can make a real difference in the efficiency of the localized contents. The panels at Going Global were the opportunity for the clients to collect tips and for Language Service Providers to keep up with the evolution of their professions. Far from disappearing, language services are bound to evolve with their clients’ needs. As of now, this means combining specialized translation services with copywriting and transcreation abilities. As far as I am concerned, I am looking forward to the next innovations in my field!


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