Translation's future will call for increasingly high-speed services that are in keeping with the emergence of the mega-fast internet of things (IoT). Just as the IoT will transform our home and work lives by linking all sensor-enabled devices with on-off switches to the internet and each other -- thereby expediting an infinite number of tasks -- translation's future will require agencies to move data at almost instantaneous velocities to meet the demands of clients. But that's not all.
Because translation will be essential to connecting 50 billion devices across all of the world's languages, language solutions will be built into all IoT-connected devices to assure unimpeded and virtually instantaneous cross-language communication.
The future also promises to bring a growing emphasis on quantifying and measuring buying behaviors, and using analytic tools to determine metrics of success. There will also be a focus on "chunking" -- the act of converting words or phrases from one language into another where no parallel term exists -- by "chunking up," "chunking down" or "lateral chunking." Also on the horizon: an emphasis on more proactive rather than reactive localization; a drive toward more native feeling; the transition toward greater review than preparation time; and the much-increased use of video.
There will be an increased recognition that human-machine hybrid translation programs are unworkable because machines can only translate chunks, and the use of both machine and human translators doubles the workload. Translation agencies will increasingly work with their clients in an interdisciplinary manner, where consistency will call for translation to be centralized, and progressive agencies will be called upon to maintain databases for clients in multiple languages.
It all adds up to one incontrovertible fact: Given the swift pace of technological evolution and the exponential increase in online content that will be arriving sooner rather than later, translation agencies will be called upon for near-immediate results.
What do CMOs seek in the "ideal" translation agency?
Most progressive companies understand the importance of meeting with their translation agency to discuss every aspect of their needs. What they seek is not merely an order-taker to accept a document and return a translation, but a true partner and consultant who can guide the client to the right solutions for the right audiences.
The agency serving in that consultative role should be highly tech-savvy, fully conversant in the workings of digital marketing and able to deliver translation services on a real-time basis.
For example, a Miami-based communications agency specializing in high-end luxury real estate recently sat down with its translation agency to decide how to address regionalization of its glossy marketing pieces. The translation agency had some questions: Were the pieces destined to be read in Mexico, in Colombia or in Chile, for instance? The translation agency then suggested that some of the articles be published in Mexico City, Bogota, Buenos Aires and Lima, and others locally in Miami.
Similarly, the entire marketing team of Miami-based Jackson Health System met with its translation agency about reaching not only the local Miamian, but also Cuban-Americans. Also targeted were executives flying to Miami from different countries in South America to build alliances with Spanish-speaking officials of numerous hospitals providing an array of healthcare services.
In essence, the Jackson Health System team sought an education of sorts from the translation agency's leaders. The agency was called upon to consult with the Jackson marketing team about company needs, hurdles and the importance of making translations relevant for each audience. Above all, the translation agency needed to advance ideas and suggestions the healthcare company hadn't considered.
State-of-the-art translation agencies are also up to speed on the swift evolution of technology as it applies to business and translation. These agencies should be able to respond nearly instantly to translation appeals, preparing and delivering a translated document in less than 30 minutes. This can be processed through the work of a professional and diligent team of translators that can upload all the information to a proxy-based technology, which is a must for any company that needs to have a digital mobile and website presence.
It's a brave new world, in which digital marketing clients will increasingly know that to go far, they will have to work with translation agencies that can meet their needs in this new era of multilingual communications.