Conference report by Belén Agulló García.
On July 29 and 30, more than 600 localization folks from all around the world met from the comfort of their own homes for the first ever virtual LocWorldWide conference, one of the biggest online localization forums organized to date. The two-day conference was preceded by a preconference featuring two workshops held simultaneously the day before.
Map of online participants for LocWorldWide42. Source: LocWorld Twitter Account
The conference included a wide variety of topics and sessions for the attendees to choose from. There was a good balance between technology, processes, best practices, and case studies that left the attendees with a few takeaways and lessons learned.
End users have always been important to the localization industry, but it seems that they are only just now being truly and fully taken into consideration. We attended several interesting sessions about the importance of gathering user feedback. For example, Damián Fernández from Booking.com explained how they run a language quality survey to understand how end users feel about the language and translation quality in order to improve their current linguistic approach. The underlying goal was to ensure that localized content at Booking.com was in line with the company’s vision and guidelines regarding voice, tone, and style. This idea resonated with buyer-side localization managers from various companies: how can localization contribute to the main goals and vision of their companies?
We had the chance to hear from localization buyers from different companies such as Skyscanner, HubSpot, Tinder, ASICS Digital, Electronic Arts, King, and Microsoft. One thing the buyer-side localization teams that participated in the sessions have in common is that not only are they extremely mature when it comes to localization strategies, but they also have become true localization evangelists within their companies.
It’s not always easy to convince upper management and other teams within an organization of the importance of localization. Valeria Nanni and Hristina Racheva from Skyscanner shared their journey upgrading their localization department. Their main goal was to build a localization team and convince senior management that it was worth the investment. And they succeed. In their session, they shared some tips and lessons learned, such as aligning the localization strategy with the company goals and using their language in the meetings, pairing with other departments, or gathering internal and external data to make a case for localization.
The sessions from game localization peers at Electronic Arts and King were also inspiring and very successful, showing that game companies have a deep understanding of the relevance of the content they are generating. Even if they shared different approaches to game localization (EA talked about machine translation and King about the integration of the UX and Localization teams), both sets of speakers have shown that they care about their gamers’ user experience and that they know exactly how and where they can add value to the experience with the tools and resources at their disposal.
Speaking of localization evangelists, we truly enjoyed the panel session moderated by Kristy Sakai (Supertext) with Andy Andersen (Tinder), Nataly Kelly (HubSpot), and Hilary Normanha (ASICS Digital). They have turned their localization departments into an essential part of the product and marketing strategy, and they work as cross-functional teams with different stakeholders within their organizations.
Andy from Tinder stated that “the companies that are going to be more successful internationally are the ones that consider localization as a strategic driver.” Nataly from HubSpot talked about how they work together with their marketing team, helping shape the overall strategy. For HubSpot, alignment is extremely important — the localization strategy needs to be informed by the goals of the company because it’s considered a revenue enabler. Hilary from ASICS highlighted the importance of empowering team members from other departments and giving them the tools to search for global data that helped them understand and show the importance of localization.
However, all panelists agreed that it’s very difficult to show the value of localization with objective data. The reason for this is that you cannot compare a scenario with localization with a scenario without localization. When the localization strategy is executed well, nothing noticeable happens. Therefore, it’s sometimes hard to make a case for executives and other team members. Luckily, there were a few sessions focusing on user experience, ROI, and proof of value of localization.
We also learned that having a joint strategy between localization and marketing teams is becoming more relevant for global companies who really care about their international success. And this affects not only the company’s structure but its processes as well. Nataly Kelly from HubSpot talked about the importance of speed. When your company has an agile approach to development, everything else needs to be agile, including marketing and localization. So one of the main challenges for them was to keep up not only with product developments but also with marketing campaigns. Nataly shared that one of the success metrics of localization they track is turnaround speed, and they use the results to improve internal processes and the overall localization experience. According to Nataly, the stakeholders at her company are not that worried about linguistic quality metrics since people expect great quality. However, the time and speed with which problems are fixed matter a lot.
We also heard a lot about transcreation during the conference. Because isn’t transcreation the ultimate combination of marketing and localization?
Łukasz Rejter (Spark) and Róisín Twomey (Microsoft) gave a joint presentation on how to delight global audiences at every stage of their buying experience. They shared their insights about their internal processes and how they manage localization for the Packaging and Content division of Microsoft — the storytellers of the company, as Róisín put it. Dealing with taglines, they said that they have a transcreation team devoted to adapting marketing campaigns from one language to another.
Another interesting session related to transcreation and how marketing and localization intersect was given by Christian Artopé (GUD.berlin GmbH) and Frances Provine (Supertext). They told the love story of a marketing agency meeting a transcreation company: and the result was excellent copy! The guys from GUD prepared a very mischievous marketing campaign for the Berlin BVG (public transport) and were counting on Supertext to transcreate their campaign into English (as Berlin is a cosmopolitan city full of non-German speaking expats). They shared some tips and best practices regarding how to deal with this type of project.
Example of how they transcreated the German tagline "In Berlin people like to share" to the English version. Pay attention to the background to understand the joke.
Another theme that stood out at the first online LocWorldWide event was a focus on automation to save costs and improve workflows. This was particularly evident at the Process Innovation Challenge (PIC). Yi-Qun Ren from Micro Focus presented a new way of identifying layout issues on a localized website. Colors are added via a browser extension and then the system takes a screenshot to compare the original and localized versions. This way a company can easily identify issues and save 25 percent on QA time.
PIC Session - Yi-Qun Ren’s presentation of their solution
In the same session, Wouter Maagdenberg from TXTOMEDIA demonstrated how using automatic text to video via XML files can speed up the time to market for video creation and save costs.
PIC Session - Martin Svestka’s presentation (Memsource)
Martin Svestka from Memsource addressed the issue of how to separate high-value and low-value content for post-editing. The solution lies in using business intelligence where feedback on the performance of a published piece is collected via specific metrics. Memsource flags which pieces are performing well and which need to be post-edited. Business intelligence-powered operations (e.g. post-editing) are an important part of the innovations around translation management system (TMS) and machine translation (MT) technologies.
The winner of the PIC was announced earlier on Tuesday, August 4th. Congratulations to Wouter Maagdenberg for winning the 8th Process Innovation Challenge! His innovation “Watch instead of read” has been praised by the process dragons for thinking out-of-the-box and offering solutions to current challenges and pain points.
Johan Sporre from IKEA Group, and Konstantin Savenkov from Intento, discussed how MT can enable several real-time translation scenarios across content platforms in a global company. They shared insights on tackling the ever-changing third-party MT technology, end-user feedback, and training data updates in order to achieve the most-needed continuous improvements. Konstantin explained that these continuous improvements can be designed by acquiring linguistic assets, evaluating MT, gathering end-user feedback, and monitoring the changes in MT engines.
There was also an insightful build-up session on agile development by Patricia Paladini Adell from Paladini Global Solutions and István Lengyel from BeLazy. There were some important trends about continuous localization (CL) that emerged from this survey, like the increasing involvement of UX designers from early stages of development. Another significant discovery is about the use of in-context validation of content that has already undergone pseudo-localization. If there is a follow-up session to this, it would be interesting to know more about the types of issues identified during such in-context validation, which will help fill quality gaps at the development stage itself and render the CL process even more robust.
In a series of Microtalks, we listened to Abdallah El Sahhar from SAP who talked about the Arabic terminology modernization initiative which engaged with university students.
The need for modernization has the same roots as the desire to better engage with global end users. It was discovered that many Arabic-speaking users didn’t use the Arabic version of the SAP app. When asked why, the most common answer was that the Arabic used in the app was outdated and users didn’t understand it.
Users are becoming younger and want new terminology. That’s how the collaboration with students came into being, with the aim of updating and refreshing terminology. The initiative has already had seven rounds within three years, during which intensive communication and discussions were held around making terms easier to understand and more up to date for modern audiences. Abdallah El Sahhar spoke about the low cost of the initiative, which still allowed for gaining constructive and valuable feedback. On top of that, it helped SAP identify promising candidates for future job openings. And students got extra mentoring on subjects like the Internet of Things, Design Thinking, and the like.
Abdallah El Sahhar concluded that despite the challenges they faced (e.g., getting universities to participate, keeping students committed, managing old and legacy products, etc.), such a terminology modernization initiative was a win-win. For SAP the next step is in-context testing of the new terminology.
The virtual conference experience was, well, something else. By now, we’re all used to attending Zoom webinars, small networking events, e-learning training, etc. Yet, a full conference experience including sessions, exhibitors, and networking is a whole other ball game. First and foremost, we need to say that the LocWorld organization did their best to provide the best virtual experience to their attendees, and that’s really appreciated. The platform used was iVent, and the result was as follows:
You entered the conference with your credentials and were taken to this main screen:
From there, you could go to:
1. The live (or pre-recorded) sessions
The sessions interface was suitable, you could attend as many sessions as you wanted without worrying if you would find a seat, and you could pick from a wide variety of topics. However, some attendees experienced technical difficulties and glitches, which became a bit frustrating at times.
Also, some of the sessions were pre-recorded, which was nice for the speakers because they had more time to prepare. However, for the pre-recorded sessions there was no Q&A option for the attendees. That killed the interactivity. And it was even confusing for speakers because they couldn't see the attendees of their pre-recorded sessions, so they couldn’t monitor who was interested in what they were presenting.
2. The Solutions Square
The Solutions Square was the exhibition area.
Each exhibitor had a booth that they could fill with videos, documents, information about their companies, etc. They also had an option to socialize with the visitors, although the users experienced some technical difficulties here as well, especially for setting up video conference meetings inside the iVent platform. This was really frustrating for the exhibitors who had to resort to other communication channels most of the time (email, Swapcard functionality, even LinkedIn).
3. Resources, Networking, and Help Desk
Finally, attendees had access to support areas such as resources, a help desk, and a networking space aimed at enlivening the event.
Even if the organizers did their best to promote networking in the event platform, due to technical issues the experience was not very successful. However, participants seemed to be thrilled by the networking possibilities they had during the Happy Hours on Remo. Participants had an overview of the different tables and who was sitting where, and they could walk around and have interesting and meaningful conversations with other participants. This experience was the most similar to a real networking event, but without the free food and drinks.
Unfortunately, the COVID crisis doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Therefore, we need to be prepared to have more online events and make the most out of them. We can’t stop the wheel of the localization industry!
Here is what we learned from attending LocWorldWide42:
An online event is never going to be the same as an in-person event. We need to get over that. We can’t connect at the same human level. However, we can have a very nice experience if we adapt our expectations as well as our way of connecting with one another.
One of the perks of online events is that they are more accessible (and more environmentally friendly too), and people who usually don’t have the chance to attend this type of event can do so now. So let’s give them a reason to come back. Having top-quality presentations with engaging speakers is key to online events. Also, so is finding a way to make presentations more dynamic. Maybe having more panel discussions where real conversations take place, or shorter presentations with a more interactive format, with the audience interacting by not only sending questions on chat, but also speaking up via their webcams.
Online events are especially challenging for sales teams. Selling and buying is a very human activity, and networking is very important. The way we do networking in an online event is very different. Also, exhibitors need to adapt their strategies and innovate to be able to stand out from the crowd. But this will also take greater marketing effort. For example, creating a top-notch video to showcase the services of the company, or having interesting materials to share with participants. How do you attract visitors to an online booth? Participants need to be motivated to go and visit companies, especially those that are completely unknown. Designing a specific sales and marketing strategy for online events will be necessary to succeed.
One of the things that people miss most about in-person events, apart from the human connection, is the food and drinks. It may seem silly, but the ambiance of the venue and all the extras add up to create an overall positive experience. So when you’re attending an online event, why not treat yourself to a special breakfast or a nice bottle of wine that you can open for the Happy Hour events? That can make all the difference.
As an event organizer, if you select a platform for your online event, try to stick with it. The attendees have already spent a considerable amount of time figuring out how to use the platform and it would be better to avoid confusing them yet again with a new platform. Moreover, since all platforms are different, it would be advisable to provide a quick training session for attendees before the event takes place, as well as asking different types of participants (speakers, sales, attendees) what their needs are when attending an online event. A user-centric design may help event organizers to be more successful.
Larry Hochman was the keynote speaker for LocWorldWide. He talked about what we can do to face the new COVID-19 reality. So, in an online event where everything is digitized and distant, how can we add value to the experience?
That’s the most valuable lesson that we learned from Hochman and something that we can apply to our industry. In a world of crisis and social distancing, simply be kind. Human relationships can’t be taken away from us. So please use online events like LocWorldWide to nurture your relationships with your customers and colleagues. Forget about the technology and focus on what really matters: the people behind the screens.
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