GALA – Networking at Press Club

press-clubAs a new person in the field of localization, I asked industry veterans what they found particularly rewarding.  Helping people understand material by making it available in their native language and cultural context was one of the industry highlights.  Working with people around the world and also people speaking multiple languages was another.

Interestingly, industry frustrations were concentrated around making these rewarding things happen.  Project management of localization projects, and technical aspect of extracting the materials targeted for translation from variety of formats where the materials “live” seem to be significant issues.

happyI was wondering if customers of localization companies understood the benefits of the process.  The companies that approach localization vendors definitely understand the advantage, as those who do not, probably happy to operate in a single language environment.  The interesting part was the need of localization customers to be involved into the process; if the client is not involved, the project is less likely to be successful.

An industry veteran shared a very interesting case for machine translation – to help in company’s internal communication. A technical specialist would be able to decide if the project referred in the communication related to his area or not even if the translation is not perfect.  Machine translation, even imperfect as it is, can bring the understanding of the message just one step further, what could be enough to decide if the person’s area of expertise is affected or not.

toinThe event has been organized by TOIN – a localization company that was founded in Tokyo over 50 years ago and started with one typewriter.

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IMUG – Internationalization at Startups

IMUGMy first IMUG event was beyond expectations!  Fantastic insight, very smart questions, and incredible comfort of international and generally diverse audience. I signed up for a year 😉

startupThe event started with a definition of a startup.  Tex Texin, Chief Globalization Architect, XenCraft, noted that even if many opinions exists, the startup is a company working on something that has not been done before.  A small business entering established industry with a traditional business plan would be a small business rather than a startup.  Disruptive technology is the essence of startup, and internationalization for this technology could also be unknown (for example, gesture-driven interactions with a screen – how different the natural gestures would be in different cultures?).

in a startup environment everybody has to understand internationalization – there is no dedicated department and no time to correct business process or product features that have not been done with internationalization in mind.

Evernote

EvernoteIgor Afanasyev, Director of Localization, Evernote, described his company’s localization journey and probably received the most of the questions from the audience.  This journey was the process a startup would need to navigate if it desires to expand beyond its home country.  Interesting, 70% of Evernote customers come from outside of US.

Evernote had to find a way to automate localization.  It was Russian/US company, and localization in Russian was the first step to establish the process that can be used in the future.  No tools were available on the market in 2008, when Evernote started its process – it had to create its own tools.  It took 7 months to localize Evernote for Russian market.

Russia was a test market, and its selection was based on company’s history rather than specific business need.  After the process was established, Evernote identified profitable markets and eventually expanded localization to over 20 languages.  The language selection was based on user data – Japan adopted the product even in English version and was a good market, so it was quickly included into the localization plan.

Company tailors content more for Japan and China and sometimes provides different content for the web site.

At certain point, the company brought translators in-house to improve quality and to assure that translators understand company better.  Another challenge – managing people – accompanied the improvement 🙂

Evernote translation split: 75% – marketing, 25% – software.  The process is automated around Google Docs.  The company is planning to open source its system sometime soon. Engineers do not touch localization resources, they know how to internationalize strings properly.  The company started localization early and it became a part of the culture; there is no specific person responsible for the process. Some of the challenges came from early decisions, such as selection of fonts not supported in all languages.

Are Evernote translators using machine translation?  Yes, to help the translation process; translators are able to work faster if they start with machine translation.  However, if a translator used Google Translate and changed just one word – this person is paid for this one word and the review of the translation.

Evernote historically supported “all brand new platforms” as a strategy to access early adopters.  Some of these platforms no longer exist.

Evernote believes developing its own localization automation tool significantly benefited the company.  Website is automated as software; marketing materials are translated by “Google Docs” method.  Designers are educated not to have text in images; sometimes, different images are created for different languages.

Gengo

gengoJamie Cox, Project Management Lead, Gengo, described the internalization process from the perspective of a translation company.

Sometimes, the translation agency is becoming a part of a well-established process that a company already has.  Sometimes, however, a marketing manager would come to Gengo and confess: “my boss told me to translate emails to French…”  This situation is more “interesting”, and Gengo in this situation need to establish a workable process.

There are different combinations of resources that companies can consider:

  • in-house translators would be better educated about your business
  • translation can be crowdsourced if cost and time are critical factors
  • in some cases, Gengo translators might be doing the translation, but the internal translators act as editors, who check proper brand and messaging.  This approach is used by companies with an internal team of translators, which lacks needed capacity.

Non-traditional tools in localization

Should the company buy a tool or build it?  If the company’s core skills are not in globalization, it is better to buy a tool.  From another side, the company can discover interesting approaches if it ventures into creation of its own tool.

Questions to ask:

  • where are my company’s core skills?
  • is my product that different that it requires unique localization approach?
  • is there added value in the creation of the tool?

(I guess, the process will be similar to email and marketing automation tools adoption.  At first, many companies attempted to build their own “free” tool, and eventually, IT departments realized that they were not in business of “building marketing software.” Eventually, the tools became very advanced and sophisticated; specific marketing knowledge needed to create the tools were beyond internal IT departments.  Now it is unlikely any company will build it own system.  The adoption of localization tools will probably be similar: as tools mature and become increasingly valuable, more and more companies will adopt them.)

When do you add another language?  It is a combination of:

  • business opportunity
  • cost of development

“If you are a startup, you might be selling to enterprises, and enterprises will pull you into different markets…”

Excellent event!  The event was held in the Box office (great location from my perspective 🙂 ).  I have been using Box for a few years personally, so it was a pleasure to visit the office.

box

Dashlane and PC Classes Online

I was lucky to be introduced to two wonderful resources, which saved me efforts and time (and probably allowed to avoid typical frustration of modern life 🙂  ).

DashlineDashlane claims to be the best Password Manager – I agree! I have not used any other similar tools, but I don’t think I will ever dare to leave the security of Dashlane.  I did not realize that Dashlane could collect over 3,000 random passwords from all three browsers I use on my home compute…  I thought I used just a few 😉

PCClassesPC Classes Online was my life saver when I started using Mac at work first time in my life.  Ah – I LOVE it!  And, I came home after the first day in total panic as I did not know how to copy-paste…  Thanks to my increadibley helpful coworkers, I was introduced to basics, but I felt I needed more. PC Classes Online had a perfect class introducing Mac to terrified PC users like me 🙂  I watched it more than twice and “clicked along” to learn my new wonderful tool.  The site has many classes helping to learn different tools and devices.  I will be back, definitely, I will be back 😉

From Minnesota to Silicon Valley

travelingAh, 2015 did not start well for me, but if I knew the possibilities it would open, I would enjoy every moment of the process.  The company where I worked for three years reorganized its marketing function in the spring, the reorganization did not make sense to me, so I left the company without a good idea of what I wanted to do next.  I just knew that it would have to be something dramatically different.  And my husband was hoping for a better weather…

Three months later, I am in California, working for Transifex, a small and very dynamic organization, inherently international and wonderfully diverse, in the industry that did not quite exist several years ago.  Yes, it is my “new job honeymoon,” and I love everything, including my notebook with the company logo, but the people, the product, and even the industry is absolutely amazing!

LogoTransifex-hires

Transifex is a localization platform; it solves the problem that I had throughout my career as a marketer: streamlining the translation of practically any web-related materials.  The most remarkable benefit (from my perspective of a person very new to the industry) is “continuous localization” – a system that allows building the localization process into a normal life cycle of any internet-related project – an agile web app development or continuous updates of marketing web sites.  And, in my sorry experience, which is probably similar to the experience of any marketer, the update of marketing sites usually needed before the translation of the first version has even been completed…

A few years into the future, localization platforms will be as ubiquitous as marketing automation platforms or content management now.  In the application development area these platforms will reside somewhere between the programming language and the database.  The future of the industry is very interesting.

One of my favorite companies, Coursera, is Transifex customer.

For me personally, 2015 might be one of the best years of this century!  🙂

palm-tree

While looking for opportunities in the Silicon Valley (this is where most interesting jobs for marketers are!), I was introduced to quite a few innovative companies with interesting business models.  Though I am certain I joined the best organization for my interests, I am delighted to become a customer, or to borrow interesting marketing ideas from some firms to which I was lucky to be exposed.

My general impression from my job search time is remarkable business savvy I was happy to discover.  Coming from large corporations, I was impressed by the clarity and transparency.  I met marketing VPs who could explain the go to market strategy, positioning and differentiation of their business in two sentences, senior marketers who had an excellent grasp of technical aspects of marketing operations, and just very smart and knowledgeable people of all ages and backgrounds.

Some of the companies I encountered are below:

malwareMalwarebytes – the most popular software you need to protect your computer.  I downloaded the free version, and promotion bar that popped up periodically on different sites disappeared!  Ah – I wanted this bar out of my computer for a while…  I think I will be a paying customer when we upgrade our computers.  The software is available for individuals and businesses, and the company’s ultimate objective is to bring humanity into malware-free future, where such services won’t be needed.

Hilarious: the company named conference rooms by the names of spaceships from Star Trek and Star Wars.  I visited “the Enterprise” conference room with a little model of the ship.  As a Star Trek fan, I was thrilled!  I was also left with the instruction that it was OK to play with the model, as long as I put it back, and Vulcan “live long and prosper” hand gesture.

riminiRinimi Street – very interesting business!  Some of the companies where I used to work would save money and struggles if they would become customers 🙂  The company is an independent provider of enterprise software support, such as Oracle, SAP, etc.  The company is happy to support not only the enterprise software itself, but also all custom code that corporations typically add to the system.  This approach allows reducing cost of software maintenance up to 50% and avoid upgrading to the new versions of enterprise software.  Knowing the dynamics of enterprise software and how it is managed by large corporations, the company will probably thrive for at least 20 years after each software package will be discontinued.

EllieEllie Mae – a company that provides all-in-one mortgage management solutions.  A typical b-to-b SaaS company in a very conservative industry…  with a very innovative and creative marketing approach.  The company approached training about new government regulations as “taming” of a scary-looking dinosaur with the name of a play on the regulation’s abbreviation.  The result – is a cute baby dinosaur, available as a soft, squishable toy (I have one too 😉  ).  It rors when squeezed, and reminds that any scary rule can be transformed into an adorable little creature with right type of knowledge.  Customers play with the toy and post amazing pictures on social media.  Wow – and this is a very conservative industry…

homeHomeAway – this is not a Silicon Valley based company, but its business is as interesting, and I think I will be a customer at one point 🙂  HomeAway is based in Austin, TX, and some people who are hiding from snowy winters work there.  HomeAway provides a global marketplace for vacation rentals.  Instead of staying in a hotel, you can rent an apartment of a large house to keep the entire family comfortable, and costs low.  And you can cook if you like… and family members will have comfortable number of TV sets  🙂  The marketplace provides method of promoting rentals for property owners, reserving the vacation accommodations, reading reviews of previous guests, and a very wide choice of options around the world.

I was fortunate to talk with companies providing different kind of software services, capitalizing on telecommunication technology breakthroughs, advancing new technology in physical and virtual world, helping teachers to learn cutting edge techniques, simplifying office management, and connecting companies around the globe to manage their surplus equipment. Above is a small fraction of the companies to which I was exposed, and I am beyond happy with the end result – finding Transifex..

Now I think 2015 knocked on my door and said: “Hey, the world outside of your little corner is interesting, wonderful.  Explore it, you will be pleased!”  I did.  And my husband and I are looking forward to our first California winter 😉

Ted: Margaret Heffernan: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work

This is one of remarkable Ted talks that I listened more than twice, and tried to share with everybody.  It points out that the current “way” is ineffective, even it is current, most commonly used, and considered necessary.  And it is ineffective…

What makes some groups more productive and more successful than others? Based on an experiment, high achieving groups in the experiment are not groups that have people with highest IQ, or more people with IQ higher than average. The most successful teams had 3 characteristics:

  • High degree of social sensitivity to each other (empathy test)
  • Successful groups gave roughly equal time to each other (no dominant members)
  • Successful groups had move women 😉  (could be result of higher empathy or diversity)

Culture of helpfulness can be the base for the company’s success.  “Helpfulness routinely outperforms individual intelligence.”

Helpfulness is not a technology issue – it is people knowing each other.  to achieve that, some company ban coffee cups at the desks, because they want people to gather at the coffee machines and talk to each other.

bookOne company synchronized coffee breaks so that people can talk to each other at the same time…  profits went up $15,000,000;  employee satisfaction went up 10%.

Margaret Heffernan also wrote the book on the topic: Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (TED Books), which is available in printed and audible format.  I am looking forward to enjoying the book sometime soon 🙂