There is great excitement in the air about the shift to cloud translation. The concept appears simple and seamless, i.e. translation can now be done with greater collaboration and ease for clients, LSPs and translators on a unified platform. But what exactly is involved in this shift? What is required to create a true cloud translation system? Who stands to benefit?
To fully understand the shift from desktop to cloud computing in the localization industry, is to accept the fundamental change in ownership and access of translation memories from LSP to client.
Step 1: Centralization of File Management
In traditional desktop translation, standard over the past two decades, the typical LSP project manager knows that a portion of the day will be spent troubleshooting hardware, software, or connectivity issues. Not something to look forward to for sure, as many such issues come as not-so-pleasant surprises that almost always cause uncomfortable delays. File management and organizational skills have always topped the list of a project manager’s resume. Translators as well have had to accept the unwanted tasks of file management and learning more about files, folders, and hard drives than they ever cared to.
Cloud translation promises to ease that pain and eliminate most file management tasks. In theory, the concept of a package, archive, file, or any of a host of project-related contrivances disappears. Best of all, reference materials such as term lists and translation memories are no longer scattered around the world to be later gathered and merged together by the LSP. They are kept safe and sound on the cloud for easy access.
Step 2: Live Translation Memory is Where it’s at!
For twenty years file formats have changed, but the concept of translation memory has not, i.e. translation memory is a storage area where all past translations are stored and from which new translations can be leveraged. All sorts of attempts have been made to best manage this concept; from using translators on intranets or LANs to the aforementioned scattering and merging of “packaged” TM curated specifically for translators located around the world. Each method offers collaboration and leveraging, but each is limited by restrictions of scale, costly coordination, or lack of ROI.
Even the best of these attempts have fallen short of managing TM the way the cloud can; it is for this reason that cloud translation is so important to the industry and to those requiring translation today and in the future. The main feature of the translation cloud is access. Access eliminates the need for a given person to be in a specific location, which means translators can ideally be located anywhere in the world and have the same efficiency as if they were together in the same room.
Cloud translation is NOT just a system of file-less project management and online status, as some would have their clients believe. Rather, it is a system of access to a client’s LIVE translation memory where new translations are entered and existing translations are edited at any time from anywhere. Any system that does not include this feature is not true cloud translation.
Step 3: True Integration = True Cloud Translation
It is popular in CMS systems for seamless translation to be confused with cloud translation. Customers find it easy to submit their text through plug-ins or apps that claim to translate in the cloud, but essentially those plug-ins simply “package” up the client’s content and send it to the chosen translation vendor. There it is translated using traditional, inconsistent means and the final product is returned to the plug-in company as a digital file that is then uploaded to the client’s CMS. It’s seamless to the client, but it’s not cloud translation.
Access, not seamlessness, is vital when choosing a translation vendor; by providing access a LSP is essentially giving ownership of a live TM to the client and providing support for it. And why not? Clients pay for translation, so why shouldn’t they have complete access to it at any time they want with the ability to modify at will? There are few systems today that offer this type of true integration, but the results are fantastic!
So, who benefits? Ultimately, everyone.
With access, clients no longer debate pricing. Analysis reports are performed by the clients themselves, and decisions can be made based on actual volumes and matching, nothing padded. Exact matches are priced at $0.00 since, after all, that is the best benefit of leveraging the TM; and clients can even get more for their translation dollar by doing some of the work themselves.
One client found that updating his user manual from Product ABC to Product XYZ could be performed entirely by himself using true cloud translation tools provided by his LSP. This type of product update cannot be performed by the plug-in company at such a convenience or savings because the client ultimately does not have access to their TM in a live environment.
The cloud is exciting because it is finally allowing LSPs to connect translators with clients via access to translation memory. Ownership can now be easily placed in the hands of the client and LSPs can provide better tools for better translation instead of file management.