I’m constantly being asked:

  • How do I make the right translation decisions for my business?
  • Why should I pay for human translators, and not just free, computer-generated translation instead?
  • How can I make sure that my brand is faithfully and accurately represented in new markets, but is also culturally-sensitive and appropriate?
  • What does translation technology do?
  • And most importantly, how can translation, and language, help to reach new markets and new revenues – and fundamentally, why must we translate at all?

The answer to the last question is simple: it’s a big world, and it increasingly speaks, and spends money in, languages other than English. According to a recent study by Common Sense Advisory, 55% of online consumers only buy products and services in their native language. Businesses need to communicate in 13 languages to reach 90% of the online global economic community, and the number of languages needed to maintain that 90% is rising. Communicating in multiple languages is now a requirement, not an option, for doing business globally.

The translation industry is going through a revolution. New, cloud-based technology is changing the lives of translation managers. There are many more businesses and organizations that are realizing how important it is to communicate with customers in their own language. More people can access more information in many more ways, on many different devices. There is a huge increase in demand for content in many more languages than ever before. And there is machine translation, which needs much nurturing before it will produce results of any value. But together, it makes a very exciting time to be working with translation technology!

Language: The Vital Heart Of Your Brand Strategy

Decisions on which languages to translate into are decisions that everyone who buys translation services must make, based on their own business strategy. In the past, they also had to struggle with technical issues before even beginning to translate. If a product, service, or website had not been designed to be “international” from the beginning, it was difficult, if not impossible, to add languages. Imagine coping with those challenges, plus all of the mobile delivery platforms that we have today, and it quickly became a nightmare!

Happily, there is new technology that is designed for this new, global reality. Companies large and small can harness the power of this technology to deliver the most inspirational and meaningful content to their customers, regardless of where they are in the world. You can have full transparency into the business processes for creating your multilingual content. If you want to connect with the person who is beautifully translating your brand messages into Arabic, Korean, or Kurdish, you can easily do so.

You can now deliver a professionally translated website in many languages in a matter of weeksYou can now deliver a professionally translated website in many languages in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months or a year or more, and without struggling with technology or IT. Quality is improved by providing the best translators with the best translation tools.

This may not sound exciting to anyone who has never managed the translation of a website, but for those of us who have, it’s thrilling. It’s like watching a developing nation jump from having no telephones to everyone having smartphones, bypassing the installation of any landline telephone infrastructure. In the same way, companies who are going global for the very first time are choosing cloud-based services that allow them to check progress, answer questions, manage their translation assets, and connect with their team of language experts around the world, from anywhere and at any time. Previously manual and time-consuming processes such as file exchange and version control are automated, allowing the focus to be where it should be: on delivering the best translations.

Language: The Vital Heart Of Your Brand Strategy

At Smartling, we like to say that translation is like music: a mix of art and science. And, like music, translated content can sound ordinary, it can fade into the background, or it can be truly inspirational. Nobody wants to sound out of tune, or inappropriate. Your translated content should be just right for your brand and your customers, with everything in harmony. Translation technology today serves as the conductor, guiding your translation resources to make your translated content sing in tune, and in harmony with the market in which it will be used.

It’s thrilling to see all these young, new, exciting companies going global with no pain. It’s exciting to see how quickly they can reach new customers, in their own language, with inspirational messaging. It’s the new model for going global. There is no language barrier -we’ve broken through!

This article is featured in the ‘Global Marketing’ special edition of Brand Quarterly produced in association with the Brand2Global conference 2014.  View the full magazine with further insights from thought leaders, marketers and globalization/localization experts.