Translation:Cost Or Opportunity – Lessons From The Journeys Of Others

Grow your business by translating your content

In todays post I try to address the question that some are always faced with, is translation a cost or an opportunity? How about we start to address the  answer by asking you to go to your favorite global website and what do you see? It allows you the option of translation. Moving into new markets, the decision to translate the content on a website is a tricky one. All the complexities can be simplified down to one question – is translation opportunity or a cost? The answer – it is both. In most cases though, companies tend to think about costs and end up losing the opportunities.

Imagine catching a big opportunity

The presentations at Localized World 2014 revealed to us how North American companies take a different approach to it than the South American or UK ones. They invest in translation as a way to succeed in an overseas market and not wait for success before investing. Companies should use techniques like ROI and the experience of others before making this decision, since waiting for success will limit your success.

Companies aiming to trot the globe accept the need for translation, but few companies recognize that being online is a type of going global. AccuWeather translates into 56 languages, why? It is because over 80% of its hits are outside the US. Even the new software distribution methods like clouds and direct downloads etc. call for an increased scope of translation.

A dilemma in today’s world is that companies are aware of the importance of translation but just not prepared to pay the bucks for it. They tend to rely on machine translations (MT), while MT can be used for user-generated content and listings. When it comes to organizational content, MT comes up short in complexity and quality. Human or computer aided translation is the answer for high quality translation but while most companies recognize the importance, they use MT to cut costs as much as possible.

MT though can botch up translations – software localization for example is a complex task requiring skills such as software engineering and project management among others. At the recent Localization World, a delegation announced a software capable of catching machine translated data passed by LSPs. Even Google shunned MT by revealing it doesn’t use its Google translate engine to translate software because it is insufficient to handle software complexities.

Does My Industry Translate? Which Industry is Likely To Use Translation?

Translation as a phenomenon is above the classifications of industries. Any industry with consumer contact is likely to require translation. A defense focused LSP had steep decline in translation revenues after the US forces withdrew from the Middle East. Such examples highlight the troubles of an industry based approach and an over reliance on a candidate.

Countries such as Spain and France require that the companies operating within them should translate their content for the local public. The Constitution of South Africa is an advocate of right of education in one’s home language. In practice, this is a cumbersome task. Translation of textbooks requires significant translation costs and complexity. Usually high quality content requires specialized language translators. Specialized language translation for African content isn’t seen as a lucrative investment.


Translation decisions should not be taken on costs but on ROI calculations. Translation is not only used as a means to fulfill a need but also as an outlet to create a newer market. To see translation as an opportunity, an upheaval in approach is needed. Whenever a company plans an international expansion, advertisement and infrastructure expenses are counted as necessities and it’s time translation is seen in the same category.

Until next time, if you have any suggestions, comments  or if you like to start a conversation with me, please don’t hesitate to email me directly:

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