Language services used to be a straight business even a couple of decades ago. Source content arrived, target content left – bill sent, money paid.
With the world becoming ever more complex, the services provided by the language industry had to follow suit. With margins becoming thinner in an increasingly competitive environment, calculating costs and being up-to-date with complicated processes has now become a very important aspect of any operation. Hence the significance of real-time reporting and control has increased significantly.
Supporting services that, for long, were regarded as exotic have become tools for guaranteeing customer satisfaction and, conclusively, client retention. Some of these tools, such as terminology management, may have the chance to evolve to become full-fledged stand-alone services.
Our colleagues at memoQ have given thought to these questions too for the year to come.
Control & reporting
Łukasz Rejter | Account Executive at memoQ
Łukasz Rejter, Account Executive for enterprises in EMEA, places his bet on business intelligence. Since the world is already taking advantage of better business data analyses becoming rapidly available in every aspect of the business world, he thinks the translation and localization industry will follow the trend in 2018.
“The analytical revolution that yields better and better methodologies in prediction, estimation and operational control seems to reach every aspect of business operations from planning to product design, marketing to production, logistics to distribution, just to mention a few. Today business owners must have better and better real-time control over their processes if they want to stay ahead of competition.”
Business intelligence is an aspect that is gaining ground rapidly in translation and localization environments. The introduction of prediction modules and the use of state-of-the-art business metrics will be an inevitable step forward. Data-enabled decision making reinforced by integrated decision support tools, data visualization, and reporting capabilities are not only going to support more streamlined daily operations, but will be available to provide better estimates for project or even company worth, or, indeed, to support investment decisions on-the-fly as well. The trend is to have easily extractable information readily at hand about all the aspects of the translation workflow, time, costs, people, data, etc. And all this should happen in real-time!
The provision of integrated business intelligence and real-time reporting may well become an important trend in 2018 for the translation industry.
Knowledge is power!
Jessica Rathke | Managing Director at Localization Sales & Marketing
Jessica Rathke | Managing Director at Localization Sales & Marketing
The Commercial Value of Customer Information – TMS systems contain a wealth of data about translation buyers: type of project, industry, buyer role or title, number of buyers in an account, volume of work, languages, etc. I sometimes wonder if LSPs are maximising the commercial value of this information beyond resource management and production capacity. By commercial value I mean sales and marketing value that can be exploited by project managers, account managers and sales people. Studying this data from a sales perspective might prompt a project manager to ask their customers some smart questions about trends in their business and why there is increased demand for certain types of projects or languages. PMs could use this information to build a business case for more work or expanded work within the account. Given how quickly the market moves these days, sales people want to stay on top of industry trends. Perhaps there is an uptick in one type of project in one particular industry. This might prompt sales people to focus on winning that particular type of project from other buyers. These are but a couple of examples of how TMS data could be used to focus sales efforts in areas of growth, induce PMs and Account Managers to have commercially oriented conversations with the customers to improve relations and possibly deepen their reach within existing accounts. After all, knowledge is power!
The Changing Role of the Translation Project Manager in 2018 – I believe the role of translation project managers will (and should) change even more rapidly in 2018. This is due in part to TMS and other technology automating the more mundane tasks and, in theory, freeing up project management time to proactively think about how they can better serve their customers. This trend couldn’t happen at a better time. Customers today want pro-active and collaborative solutions from suppliers. Project managers are in the best position to deliver this, given their frequent contact and strong relationships with customers. Commercial skills such as account development, pro-actively developing time-saving processes, and recognising and acting upon business opportunities are becoming crucial skills for project managers to have. This prevents customers from being enticed by competitors and builds customer loyalty in the long run.
The rise of terminology
Anett Guth | Market Researcher at memoQ
Anett begins with a quote she found in an article by Common Sense Advisory: “Today, no content management or localization management strategy is complete without terminology management.”
“I understand and agree with this statement,” says Anett, “however, I think that a big part of the language services market is still very far from the adoption level this statement presumes. And I think this is due to one thing: the lack of an established business framework for terminology management.”
Terminology management for direct customers seems rather simple. They are the content owners, so they have the authority to decide on preferred terminology; and, besides, their contribution seems to be inevitable in the process anyway.
For content owners, investment decisions are rather about how to scale the risks of not investing early enough in terminology management while developing their content management routines and procedures.
When LSPs invest in CAT tools they invest in supportive technologies for the services they provide. However, it is not that obvious that providers would commercialize terminology management as a service. If this activity appears in their offering only as an added value service, validating their investment will be even more complicated:
- There will be a number of items appearing on the cost side: these include items such as a one-time investment in the terminology management tool and its implementation; the recurring costs of expert terminologist(s); and, at least on an occasional basis, costs relating to the involvement of content-owners. When end-customers decide on validating terminology it is still not a no-cost item in the process but a cost that occurs on the customer’s side (i.e. man-hours of in-house colleagues).
- Benefits however will be relatively indirect: by the introduction of terminology management the most frequent gains will be higher prices for the resulting value-added services, better customer retention rates, or better chances to reach prospects LSPs wish to win over.
In my experience, terminology management can be best utilized by any LSP that has:
- an established, quality-sensitive customer base of direct customers, with plannable projects and revenues associated;
- a customer base where a significant proportion of clients is committed to participate in terminology validation, at least to a minimum required extent.
Without questioning the value and importance of this service, due to business reasons, I still expect terminology management to remain a must-have for a part of the language market only in 2018.
Danilo Monaco | CEO at Arancho Doc
Danilo Monaco is an Italian living in Finland since 1989. After having learnt Finnish he graduated with honors in Economics from the University of Helsinki. During these years Danilo worked as a freelance linguist, after which he was appointed in a variety of professional and management positions for some of the largest T&L companies in the Nordic Countries. He is the developer of the Tetra-Model of HR, charmed by competency-based management and personally interested in the theoretical approach to negotiation as well as game-theory modeling. However, at the age of 49, Danilo still hasn’t fully learnt how to properly use commas.
In 2014, he was chosen as the AranchoDoc Nordic Managing Director and in 2016, he was appointed as CEO of the Arancho Doc, and since July 2017 he has been part of the Technicis Group. Danilo has also served on the board of several Finnish industry organizations and is a regular speaker at industry conference and seminars. He is a well-known figure in the Nordic Countries. Danilo, most of all, loves to run.
“Terminology, for us, is more often than not, a differentiator: it signifies the shift from being an ordinary service provider to becoming a trusted partner,” begins Danilo. “We always offer new clients our advanced terminology services, but explaining the benefits and conveying the underlying logic is difficult for the first time – so it is fair to say that our first offer is almost always rejected. After the first confusions in relation to terminology management however, we see that the doors open as clients will be more open to handle such issues professionally.”
“We always offer new clients our advanced terminology services, but explaining the benefits and conveying the underlying logic is difficult for the first time – so it is fair to say that our first offer is almost always rejected. After the first confusions in relation to terminology management however, we see that the doors open as clients will be more open to handle such issues professionally.”
We cannot really say terminology is a great primary sales argument that wins clients over as it is difficult to exactly predict actual revenues it would help realize. We sell terminology management as an add-on, an additional service next to translation, and its purpose is more to cement our relationship with a client. We could possibly sell it as a stand-alone service too, but it would be much more work. With the provision of advanced terminology management, we can also display proactivity – using it we can possibly gain a bigger share of the pie when large projects are split among multiple providers.
Clients are more likely to show interest in terminology management services if their primary point of contact is also a linguist: they are much more receptive to the terminology argument. Customers with wider language sets, with centralized translation/localization, are also more prone to the idea. All in all, there are two major reasons why a client would decide to invest in terminology management: they believe it would help improve quality, and they expect that it will result in a simpler validation¬ process – which will help them keep down costs and time-to-market.
There is also an interesting geographical aspect we discovered: willingness to engage in terminology management seems to vary between the North and South. We find clients from, for instance, Scandinavia and Germany are more likely to use such services than, for example, Italian customers. Engagement seems to depend on financial means, on how much clients can afford.
Danilo believes that the market is still very far from fully commercializing terminology management as a stand-alone service and providers will continue to sell it alongside their translation/localization services.
Web-based applications have improved a lot recently. SaaS and cloud are on the rise. Everything seems simple and straightforward. Can we sit back and relax?
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