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Friday, December 10, 2010

What Went Right and What Went Wrong At Your Company in 2010

So many year-end company newsletters (as well as company blogs) are simply a waste of time  since they focus on the minutiae of a company's internal workings (staff profiles, cheery news about how the company fared in the past year, etc.). These are all things that no one cares about. In business, we all care about our own problems and how to solve them.

Considering that the only reason effort was put into newsletters and blogs was as a marketing activity to create consultative relationships with clients and adds value, it is amazing how anyone could think that company newsletters telling about staff member hobbies and recipes could be worth anyone's time.

As you can tell, we at Admerix have little patience for the traditional year end newsletters, so we decided to try to make a year-end message that does not focus on our performance and issues, but instead on our clients and the issues the localization industry is facing.

Take a look and let us know what you think: What Went Right and What Went Wrong At Your Company in 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Machine Translation and the "Over Reverence Phenomenon"

Like many companies, Admerix has experimented with MT engines and other methods to reconfigure existing localization processes.

The dream of many companies is that they can eliminate translator fees by initially translating with machine translation and then get another translator to edit (read: retranslate) at an editing rate. We have even seen some companies trying to pass this off as a proofreading only process!

This sort of concept is already used by some companies—especially for more difficult work. They have the cheapest unqualified linguist to do initial work and then try to contract a normally expensive subject specialist to “edit” the translation. Most professional linguists see through this kind of scheme and will turn down these “editing” jobs that are really re-translation at cut-rate editing prices.

Although Admerix has never used machine translation on any live job, we had to investigate and understand what all the fuss is about.

One thing we discovered as we were testing the new machine translate/edit paradigm is an interesting phenomenon that we call the “Over Reverence Phenomenon.”

As we review the efforts of linguists editing machine translation, we consistently find editors deferring to often wrong or stilted work coming from machine translation. This results is less refined translation work than if an editor is editing the work of a live translator.

This reverence for machine language-generated text occurs even with experienced editors. It seems evident that there is some conscious or unconscious desire to defer to the choices made by a computer-based translation engine—particularly with regard to terminology. Editors appear reticent to challenge MT output on specific linguistic issues.

As we spoke with editors who undertook our tests, several of them expressed the opinion that the MT output seemed correct and they were happy to learn the correct terms from it.

Anyone experienced with the localization industry will find this state of affairs unusual as many linguists revel in tearing up the work of other linguists—even over purely preferential and stylistic issues. There seems to be something about an MT engine though that makes editors hesitant to rewrite stilted or incorrect grammar—instead deferring to the supposedly superior knowledge of computers.

The other machine translation trend we've been aware of recently is MLVs discovering their linguists are exposing proprietary client data to machine translation engines through Google Translator Toolkit.

Many larger companies are finding their resources have been heavily using the service and thus giving away valuable and confidential translation to a public MT engine. Non-disclosure agreements, formerly held in light regard as a bureaucratic nicety, are suddenly becoming important again to ensure that linguists are not exposing client data to Google Translate. Of course, the corollary to this is that end clients may begin to see translation gains from work that has been entered into the Google Translate system.

We are also aware that some Asian vendors have sold or bartered millions of units of client translation memory to private companies that are creating their own translation engines.

Just to be clear, Admerix doesn’t use machine translation on its projects and we never expose client material to public MT engines. We hold our NDAs to be inviolate.

We also don’t feel that eliminating linguists is key to profitable projects. Our experience is that expert project management is key for the inevitable challenges that come with every corporate project. Translation often turns out to be the most trouble-free aspect of any corporate localization project.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Machine Translation future is not "just around the corner"

Above via Flickr: Translating Machine. Typist copies story from Russian newspaper Pravda on special machine which converts Russian letters to punched holes in paper tape. Insertion of the tape into another machine produces translation. By the 1970's, automatic translation of practically all foreign publications and books will be routine. (from 1975: And the Changes To Come by Arnold B. Barach)

Note this fascinating update from the localization blog "Global Watchtower" (confusingly named as if it was a Jehovah's Witnesses site): At TAUS, Practitioners Settle In for a Long Slog

…At one point, Jaap van der Meer made the provocative statement that MT would see “no new breakthroughs” in the next five years…

This is a stunning admission from these people! And interesting that the efforts at machine translation is still so fragmented. Lots of players are trying to invent the wheel independently because they all want to be first to make a big killing by eliminating the lowly translator.

Here’s what they want: interoperability among systems of all kinds, machine translation, translation memory (TM) sharing, terminology, quality assurance, project management, reporting, finance, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and so on.

People on the production side of the localization industry (the people who are DOING the jobs that salesmen sell) often find that translation is the smallest and easiest part of any project.

The key to a successful project is: being able to synthesize legacy files from a client uninterested in being part of the process, integrating last minute on-the-fly changes from a client CEO who just "wants it done," and the knock-on effects that these inevitable challenges bring to a project schedule.

The real challenge for the localization industry in the short to medium term will be cutting the massive costs of bricks and mortar client-facing operations in Europe and the U.S.--along with dealing with increasingly savvy corporate customers trying to break the middle-man syndrome of MLVs based in major markets.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Admerix Survey - The State of the Industry: Linguists Speak

We've posted our latest survey, "The State of the Industry: Linguists Speak," on the website.

This is a survey of linguists' opinions on machine translation editing, online work flow systems, new tools and other current innovations which threaten to drastically change the role of the translator in the localization industry.

Please take a look and let us know your opinions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where are Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft taking us?

Fascinating article from TAUS: " It’s become a standing joke in technology crystal-ball gazing: fully automatic machine translation will be available “within five years”, a prediction made regularly since the 1980s. Well, this time it seems to be true."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What is your opinion about machine translation?

Many companies in the industry are taking the view that linguists are an unnecessary cost in localization and should be replaced by computer automated translation.

In the overall rush to various "systems" for localization, no one is getting feedback from the linguists themselves.

This week, we started polling our resources on the following questions related to the current issues in the industry:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feedback on Admerix's Preferred Linguist Express program

Our project managers are really excited about our Preferred Linguist Express program. It is project managers in the industry who bear the brunt of not being able to source the right linguists for their projects because their companies choose to stall payments to improve their cash flow.

At Admerix we seek to show our respect for linguists with immediate payment for their valuable work.

We've already had excellent feedback from some of our resources.

Below is from K, a Japanese subject specialist:

...I greatly appreciate your effort to pay so quickly. Because no other companies can do that!

In a further email he commented: 

...I wouldn't mind if you quote this fastest payment in your blog. Your effort deserves to be praised. Note that usual companies take a month or two to pay money after invoices reaches them. Your company is quite  different. Anyway, I look forward to working with you again.
Kindest regards,

So, when you trust Admerix with your key projects, you can be assured that we are working with the very best subject specialists available--linguists we have built up experience and trust with over many large-scale projects over the years.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"SDL acquires LanguageWeaver. First reactions."

Great analysis of the implications of the sale of LanguageWeaver: SDL acquires LanguageWeaver. First reactions.

The article is by Renato Beninatto, one of the few sane and reasoned voices who really knows what's going on in the localization industry.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Admerix is available during the August localization doldrums

Please note: Admerix industry veteran project managers and specialist linguists will be on duty during this coming August when many industry professionals take the month off for European summer holidays.

We will be continuing to handle project tasks so our clients can leave the office on time and be certain that Admerix is solving all issues while they are asleep.

Also: Our audio studios will also be open as well, providing commercial-grade audio localization in all the languages Admerix specializes in: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Thai, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Dari, Hebrew, Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Nepali, Armenian, Turkish, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian

We also produce audio localization in a variety of additional Euro-zone languages: German, French, French Canadian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Danish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belgian, Spanish, Romanian, Czech, Slovenian, Slovak, Croatian, Bulgarian, Kazakh

Admerix stands ready to provide your production. Why not allow us to quote on your next project? We would be happy to demonstrate our abilities.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Respecting those at the heart of the localization industry

One of the ways that some companies these days have been financing their cash flow is with unreasonable delays in payment to linguists. These linguists have done the work up front in good faith and often then have little or no recourse in the face of broken promises and lack of communication with companies when it comes to time for them to receive their payments. At the same time, linguists are facing a devaluation by companies who have Quixotic notions of machine translation replacing the expense of a professional and competent translator.

A quick look at the Proz Blue Board will show how badly the community of linguists is being treated by even mainstream localization firms.

Respect for our linguists

At Admerix we have always understood and accepted that our most valuable resource are the linguists on our team. No automated system can supplant the knowledge and artistry of these translation professionals. We have forged and maintain great relationships with our resources and are always thankful that they are a part of our team.

Applying our specialized knowledge together

Admerix has combined individuals with specialized subject skills in terminology, glossary, editing and translation to complete many complex and challenging projects over the years. Other companies with automated production systems and novice project managers couldn't hope to complete the corporate grade projects we have been able to fulfill. Putting our collective knowledge together in linguist, technical, and production areas has allowed us to build strong relationships with our clients along with continued work.

Admerix's Preferred Linguist Express program

To show our respect for linguists as well as say thank you to the many with whom we work, Admerix has introduced the Preferred Linguist Express program.

We will remit payment within one week of invoice submission to linguists who meet these simple conditions:

* Be responsive to email queries and requests from Admerix.

* Have 100% on-time record with scheduled and agreed project deadlines.

Resources who do not meet these basic requirements will still receive payment within 30 days of invoice submission as usual although they will not be offered work when a qualifying resource is available.

Such a program may sound odd to the corporate accountants. In times of economic slowdown a common strategy is to squeeze contractors and stretch payment terms to the maximum for the greater good of maintaining cash flow and profits.

However, at Admerix we have always considered that if localization companies can require on-time work with iron-clad deadlines, then linguists can at least expect on-time payment as well.

Admerix is going one better and making payment for our preferred linguists the fastest in the industry.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Admerix Case Study: Who is really working on your projects?

Assigning projects to a local middleman vs. sourcing directly

“Lowering the cost of translators has the greatest potential for increasing a company's margins and is an inevitable pressure for U.S.-based companies desiring cheaper and cheaper outsourcing as every penny saved goes directly to the bottom line."

The Situation/Problem

An ERP software company was working with a major localization firm in the U.S. to handle their projects. The U.S.-based localization company touts their leading role in the industry along with a workflow process system and translation memory tools.

However, the ERP software company soon realized their chosen company, despite their marketing assurances, was merely outsourcing to the cheapest overseas supplier. The software company had experienced endless communication hassles and problems getting quick updates and feedback across different time zones. Conference calls with the team doing their project is not possible since their chosen vendor wanted to maintain the illusion that they were doing the project.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Admerix Case Study: Localization best practices may not be right for every business

“It may not be the case that you have to redesign your processes around a single localization company's best practices advice or software system."

The Situation/Problem

A major manufacturer of electronics struggles with localization “best practices” as recommended by their localization vendor. Their products involve both hardware and software components in a continuous state of development and evolution with multiple models appearing every year.

Their translation company had invested heavily in an online system in an attempt to force individual projects into a factory like, repeatable process. This localization-centric process was wrecking havoc with their current workflow and actually adding extra work and delays instead of streamlining it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things that will NEVER be on the Admerix localization blog

List of things we will never waste your time with on our blog:

* lists of funny mistranslations

* "fun facts" about language (usually lifted from Wikipedia)

* generic articles about online dictionaries and online translation

* generic articles about UN interpreters, translation in the Euro zone, etc.

* profiles about our employees ("two cats, a dog and likes reading and traveling with her husband Biff")

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Japanese linguists available during Golden Week

Each year Japanese Golden Week wrecks havoc with Japanese-related business activity--including localization projects. This year Japanese Golden week will take place between April 29 and May 5.

Admerix will have subject specialist Japanese linguists ready and available over the Japanese Golden Week period to handle your vital projects.

We complete Japanese-language work for many demanding corporate clients and understand the stylistic and commercial considerations involved in localizing in this language. We also provide expert feedback and foresee project challenges which are key to building relationships with clients.

Please keep us in mind this Golden Week for Japanese-language work.

(BTW: If you have Thai-language projects coming or underway, you might be interested in this related post: Your Thai projects are safe with Admerix)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Admerix Case Study: Starting a localization company - How to provide a full range of services

“(The Admerix solution) made their business model extremely flexible as they did not have to commit to expensive full-time, in-house staff that could not be inexpensively downsized and would remain a fixed cost if business dipped."

The Situation/Problem 1

A new localization company was founded and staffed by localization professionals who had recently left a major localization firm in the U.S.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Admerix Case Study: Struggling with ISO, QA and Project Management Issues

“Investing in ISO and Quality Assurance cannot be effective if you try to economize on project management at the same time."

The Situation/Problem

A mid-tier localization company in Europe struggled with systemic quality issues. These consisted of linguistic consistency, quality assurance problems, and customer dissatisfaction due to repeated process gaffes. The company implemented ISO standards, checklists, and other bureaucracy, but the problems persisted.

The European localization firm had begun to view project managers as a unnecessary overhead cost against their projects and downsized the project management department, replacing experienced project managers with recent graduates and interns with training in project management concepts, but no real experience. Many localization companies have adopted this same tact as they became overleveraged in recent years through mergers and the is great demand to improve profits.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The secret to satisfied clients (Part 4 of "Will technology save your company?")

At the end of the day, the focus has to be on customers getting the attention and support that they expect, production staff getting full guidance and back up for every project that they work on, and sales taking a consultative approach with clients and not overpromising.

We have always wondered what state would the industry be in today if companies had invested in localization expertise instead of endless systems, vendor mangers, ISO certification, etc.

We expect that clients would be more satisfied and more loyal overall. Also that fewer companies would be over-leveraged and continually looking for partners and cash infusions in their frantic efforts to grow.

Systems can never overcome the complexities of project management that an industry-experienced project manager deals with every day and neither should they be seen as a selling tool that trumps the advantages of an industry-veteran project manager who works closely with the client though every challenge.

Back to part 1 of "Will technology save your company?"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Your Thai projects are safe with Admerix

Considering the current events in Thailand, Admerix wanted to provide an update on the situation for Thai language projects.

Thailand's economy is still expanding with many businesses moving into this vibrant country. The future of the Thai consumer market is bright with a massive population of consumers and domestic consumption poised to soar. However, the outlook for the country’s security and political future--especially in Bangkok--continues to be less than optimistic.

Recently, several large localization projects have encountered communication and delivery difficulties. These instability and security issues have had many companies questioning whether their vital projects can be completed by vendors located within Thailand.

So how can you be certain your Thai projects will proceed on schedule and on budget?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The lure of the cloud (Part 3 of "Will technology save your company?")

There is also the irresistible lure of the “cloud.” Strapped vendors dream how high margins could be if they could get a cloud of super cheap (or even free) translators who would frantically collaborate on translation in real time in the same way as Wikipedia is edited.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The three-focus syndrome and the localization customer

The three-focus syndrome is one of the biggest traps that we see being laid for localization project managers in recent times. Understanding it can be the difference between a successful project and failure.

First, the customer asks about price, and is looking for the most "competitive" price that they can find.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Down-skilling project managers (Part 2 of "Will technology save your company?")

Project managers working in high-cost developed countries are a huge expense. The reaction to this is that experienced project managers have been “down-skilled.” Seen only as a cost to production, veteran project managers have been pushed aside as companies replace them with low-paid novices (sometimes even interns) who can be pressured into staying in the office all night trying to fulfill promises made by overzealous sales staff. The inevitable result is chronic poor performance and low quality. The resulting quality gaffes create further pressure to regiment the project process to make it more fool-proof.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Will technology save your company? (Part 1)

How should a localization company lower costs and increase quality? Today, the answer seems to be eliminate project managers as much as possible and regiment the process with a computer-based system of some sort.

A streamlined localization process is the holy grail of the industry and would be seen to increase quality and speed of production. However, this solution naïve and showing that it is certainly not in the best of interest of customers.