Ian A. Henderson

Ian A. Henderson
October 8, 2019
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Discover the real source of translation problems

I’m very excited to announce my book – Global Content Quest: In Search of Better Translations– written from over 25 years of experience in the localization business. In it, I share my journey of changing the process of translation into an industrial one. Choosing the right language service provider can be daunting. Learn the strategy Rubric uses to change the narrow view of translation into a broader content issue, as this yields a much more worry-free, cost-effective way of reaching a global audience. Take a sneak peek into the table of contents:

 

Chapter 1 – Marshy Ground: Through our many years of translating, we’ve developed a philosophy that can help companies achieve enormous gains in efficiency, accuracy, and revenue.

Chapter 2 – Complexity: We’ve developed an innate understanding of the common challenges that arise when working in translation.

Chapter 3 – Who We Are: Learn how Rubric was started and our journey to becoming a Global Content Partner.

Chapter 4 – Silos: Silos will not go away on their own. The importance of content oversight is only going to grow as time goes on.

Chapter 5 – Getting Out What You Put In: Learn how combining highly-specialized programs translators use with polished materials results in a seamless, high-quality translation.

Chapter 6 – Missapplied Tools: While human expertise and oversight is always essential, the right tool can be a great asset to a project.

Chapter 7 – Poor User Journeys: Awareness of your customer is the first step toward improving their experience.

Chapter 8 – Inspirational Outlook: Read about the Localization Maturity Model and how we use it to equip clients with processes to avoid complex problems.

 

Click here to learn more about Global Content Quest & download the first chapter for free!

Ian A. Henderson
August 22, 2019
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When Françoise and I founded Rubric back in 1994, we set out to do something different. We wanted to put client needs first, and focus on partnerships rather than transactions. Many of the decisions we made were atypical of the industry at the time – for instance, we’ve never owned a photocopier – but 25 years later, I’m pleased to say that our philosophy has been, and remains, a success.

When I sat down to write this retrospective, my first thought was to highlight some of the key milestones we’ve passed as a business. However, I quickly realized that by far our greatest achievements have been the relationships we’ve built with clients and suppliers.

 

Partners, not customers

In 2018, we rebranded with the tagline “global content partner” – but in a way, the rebrand came 25 years late. Our priority has always been to build long-term partnerships with clients, and work together with them to improve their internal processes and overall content strategies. We recognized early on that while a transactional approach might yield short-term savings, we could ultimately deliver higher-quality and more cost-effective localization by really delving into our clients’ operations.

I think it’s safe to say that our clients like this approach too, because on average, they’ve been with us for at least 10 years – and some much longer. For example, we’ve had the pleasure of working with dynabook (formerly known as Toshiba) for almost 25 years. In that time, dynabook has come to see Rubric as more than just a translation house, and we’ve been able to work with them to steadily optimize their processes. There’s only so much we can do on our end to streamline localization, but when you have a client that’s open to feedback and willing to make changes, that’s when the real magic happens.

When we first started translating manuals for dynabook, they each cost roughly $8,000. Today, they cost just $75. That isn’t the result of any ground-breaking technological advancement, but rather a relentless series of small changes. There’s no cookie-cutter formula for this kind of improvement – it’s only possible when a client gives us the opportunity to integrate with their business, and trusts our recommendations.

 

Expert suppliers – the foundation of Rubric

Just as important as our partnerships with clients are our partnerships with suppliers. One of the most important decisions we made when we founded Rubric was to avoid using in-house translators. Instead, we’ve always worked with a wide range of specialist freelancers for different types of content. Our translators each have intimate knowledge of the industries they localize for, so they can provide our clients with the most accurate translations possible.

Back when we started, finding these specialists wasn’t easy. Before the Internet, recruitment involved spending upwards of $10,000 on national newspaper ads in the countries we needed translators for. But we’re very happy we made the effort, since we’re still working with many of those same translators today! In fact, several freelancers have been working with us on the dynabook translations for 25 years.

Françoise used to be a freelance translator herself, so from the beginning, she knew the value of treating suppliers with respect. And our freelancers have more than repaid that respect – to this day, they are the backbone of Rubric.

We asked some of our translators for their thoughts, and it’s been great to hear that they appreciate the partnership just as much as we do:

“Your competent and friendly staff has always treated me with respect and fairness. You are a pleasure to work with.” – Johanne, English to French Canadian

 

“I’ve been working with Rubric for about 20 years. Can’t point to any specific project as there were so many. I can point out all the PMs – all were and are highly helpful, friendly and so nice to work with. Looking forward to many more happy years.” – Ilana, English to Hebrew

 

“In 2017, I got an opportunity to work with Rubric translating school text books from English to Sesotho. It’s one of the best companies I’ve ever worked with.”– Thabelang, English to Sesotho

 

They say that you’re only as good as your last five minutes. Well, there’s been a lot of five minutes in the last 25 years, and we’re still going from strength to strength. So thank you to the clients and suppliers who have helped us get this far, and here’s to another 25 years!

 

 

 

 

Ian A. Henderson, Chief Technology Officer

 


Ian A. Henderson
July 15, 2019
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When it comes to managing your content, there’s more choice now than ever. Dedicated Content Management Systems (CMSs) have become exceptionally popular and diverse, giving organizations a wide range of both open source and proprietary options to choose from. What’s more, there’s a vast array of non-traditional solutions that can meet the needs of structuring content – especially from a localization perspective – for whom a full-blown CMS would be overkill.

Choosing the right content management approach for your organization can yield major efficiencies and cost savings; but at the same time, committing to a CMS that does not meet the needs of all your stakeholders can complicate your operations and lead to even greater expense. That’s why it’s crucial to evaluate your requirements as early as possible when designing or modernizing your content management processes.

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the key factors to consider for choosing a content management approach that supports both your localization strategy, and your business as a whole.

 

What is a CMS, and do you need one?

Content Management Systems are software platforms that aim to streamline the creation, editing, localization, and publication of content. CMSs have traditionally been associated with website content, but modern solutions are often designed to support multi and omnichannel content strategies. An enterprise CMS will enable users to manage and repurpose content across numerous outputs, such as press releases, brochures, and other marketing collateral.

This brings us to the first and most important consideration: do you need a CMS?

Using a CMS is increasingly becoming the status quo, even for small businesses – but you should think carefully about whether you would really benefit from the technology. If you aren’t pursuing a multichannel strategy or frequently updating a complex website, then a full CMS might well be unnecessary.

Instead, consider other options such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, a Product Information Management (PIM) system, or even a social media platform. Each of these can provide a convenient environment for creating and managing content on a smaller scale, while also delivering a host of other benefits to your organization.

And when you factor in localization. If you are only managing content for a small-scale, static website, it is perfectly viable to just translate the HTML rather than processing the content through an enterprise CMS. HTML is a format that most translators are very comfortable working with, so skipping the CMS effectively cuts out the middleman. New technology can be appealing, but older, proven approaches are often simpler and cheaper.

 

What do you need from a CMS?

Once you’ve decided to use a CMS, the next step is establishing what capabilities you need. CMSs come in all shapes and sizes, and we recommend looking for one that satisfies all your requirements right out of the box. Some solutions will offer numerous plugins for additional functionality, but relying on these can lead to complications down the road – especially with community plugins that lack guaranteed, long-term support.

While our focus is on localization, we can’t stress enough how important it is to consider the needs of all stakeholders when choosing a CMS. This will likely be a mission-critical tool not only for your translators, but also for writers, engineers, and project managers. In our experience, selecting a system based on the requirements of only one group is the most common cause of CMS-related issues.

Typical capabilities that you might look for in a CMS include:

  • Content storage
  • Content authoring and editing
  • Translation management workflows
  • Templating and layout creation
  • Publishing tools
  • Content syndication

It is also worth considering a headless CMS, especially for multichannel content strategies. Headless CMSs are back-end only solutions that separate authoring from publication. Instead of publishing to a front-end view layer built into the application, a headless CMS serves as a central repository for content that can be published to numerous channels through a RESTful API.

 

Import & export – the most important CMS features for localization

You may have noticed that one feature is conspicuously absent from the list above: direct content translation. Many CMS platforms advertise support for translating content directly within the CMS itself. On paper this might sound like a good way to streamline localization – but in reality, it often has the opposite effect.

Translators work best when they are able to use their preferred applications. Working within a CMS typically requires training to get to grips with an unfamiliar environment, and can limit access to essential computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, such as translation memory. This issue is so severe that external translators sometimes charge a higher price-per-word if they are required to perform translations within a CMS.

So if direct content translation isn’t the answer, what should you look for?

We recommend choosing a CMS that enables you to easily export content in an editable format (such as XML or XLIFF) for translation, and seamlessly import the localized text back in. Although this approach requires extra steps, we find that it still delivers by far the most efficient and cost-effective results. Without import/export support, you might have to resort to manually copying and pasting content, which is both time-consuming and prone to error.

Last but not least, you should ensure that your CMS makes it easy to view and manage localized content without needing to understand the language it’s written in. For example, engineers should not need to know Greek to correctly publish Greek content.

 

Consult your Global Content Partner

Clearly, there’s a lot to think about when selecting a content management approach to support your business and localization goals. Your Global Content Partner will be able to help you assess your CMS needs and choose the ideal solution for your business. We’ve seen far too many organizations pick ill-fitting CMSs that have to be replaced after only a few projects – seek guidance early to avoid costly mistakes.

Rubric can help you choose your CMS and make localization easy and cost-effective from the get-go. Contact us today and work with our experts to build bespoke localization processes tailored to your business needs; or subscribe to our blog for upcoming articles that dive deeper into related topics such as headless CMSs and PIM systems.


Ian A. Henderson
June 19, 2019
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The Internet of Things (IoT) is an interconnected universe of device, data, and software. Simply put, IoT connects physical devices — TVs, fridges, headphones, etc. — to the internet via sensors that send data to cloud networks for transformation into useful information. From experiential marketing technology that enhances event management, to an app that works with the thermostat in your office to provide comfort-ability, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what IoT can do. Keep reading to learn tips about IoT localization.

Essentially, IoT expands the reach of the internet to improve our everyday lives with data. It’s showing no signs of slowing down, either: the market is on-target to deliver over $3 trillion annually by 2026. But how does IoT and its global, border-leaping connectivity affect localization and translation?

IoT’s evolution is affecting localization on a global scale

The Internet of Things is always evolving, making it tough to decide what needs to be translated and what is superfluous. Add a product’s ever-changing lifecycle into the mix, and localization for global markets can quickly become overwhelming.

One of the first questions to consider is what will your device interact with: do your headphones rely on Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa? Do those services support your markets — if not, do you localize your content in anticipation of those services catching up in that particular language? Make sure to consider the timeline for future updates of your product and resolution of any mismatch of language availability to ensure a positive user experience.

IoT requires fast, accurate translations

The need for speed in terms of device and UX interaction directly impacts translation, with a crucial need for consistency to ensure that the devices are compatible. For example, how can Alexa play a song through a smart headset if the voice prompts are incorrect? Cloud-based products like Alexa are developed at such a pace that manufacturers of 3rd-party devices have to scramble to keep up with language updates and additions.

IoT’s constant evolution is also changing the product development cycle. This quick delivery of digital information means that Global Content Partners are having to become more agile, and their tools more automated to keep up with the ecosystem’s time-critical translation workflows. Thanks to the collaboration of industry professionals, translation technology has developed apace with the world of AI and IoT. Expert knowledge of how to leverage TMS, CAT tools, and machine translation (MT) is essential for tackling the volume and speed of IoT development. In addition, localization technology like automated translation can save time and money throughout a product’s lifecycle by populating text with pre-existing translations. This targeted automation also gives your linguists the time they need to focus on the more demanding, high-level localization tasks.

Strategic planning

A further solution to meeting quick turnaround times is to integrate your localization process into the development cycle from the beginning. By doing so, translators, engineers, and other stakeholders can analyze the product’s requirements, advise on the way forward, and align with your Translation Management System (TMS).

Businesses would do well to bring their Global Content Partners into the fold early-on for advice and guidance. Early collaboration opens the channels of communication necessary for iterative localization throughout the product’s lifecycle.

Localization is more than just translation. It’s a strategic foundation from which to deploy critical, targeted translations to your global markets. And just as localization is more than translation, a trusted Global Content Partner is more than an LSP. An experienced Global Content Partner like Rubric will analyze your organization’s global markets and content, and then advise on a localization strategy to achieve your global goals.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog below to get the latest updates on translation, localization and how things like IoT can affect your business’ strategy.


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As beneficial as an acquisition, consolidation, or merger (M&A) can be for an organization, they can cause a great deal of instability and stress. This is particularly true for managers and others who are trying to oversee the process.

Even under the best of circumstances, you’ll need a plan to help navigate the merger. And even then you are still likely to come across challenges. Considering the M&A process can have an impact across an entire company, in what way is this likely to affect the processes, scope, technology, and staff involved in localization projects? We unpack this further with a brief look at one of our clients who underwent multiple mergers.

How multiple mergers impacted a client

Our team was brought in to assist a multinational software corporation that had undergone several mergers. With each merger, new products with new languages were added to their portfolio. What had started out as a single-language human resources management product, ended up requiring translation into 43 languages. As each merger added a new layer of complexity, our client ultimately decided that it was more cost effective to create a new product from scratch — one that was designed with localization and multiple languages in mind. A new strategy was also required to deal with the growing complications, the most notable being the inconsistent use of terminology.

Even changes that may seem insignificant, such as referring to employees as staff, colleagues or teammates, can have a huge impact on a company, or in this scenario, the relevance of their multilingual HR product.

Understanding M&As and localization teams

During M&As, affected teams may ask a number of questions, including:

  • Which markets shall be prioritized moving forward?
  • Which brands and products will be marketed where?
  • How much are we going to translate for each market?
  • Which languages will the newly formed company focus on for localization?

These M&A questions are affected by the degree to which the prospective companies are merging, which is in turn determined by whether an acquisition, consolidation, or merger is taking place.

Tips for localizing after an acquisition, merger, or consolidation

Once you have established the extent of the M&A, you’ll need to implement these four steps:

  1. Any knowledge about the brand should be documented and stored in one place for reference. Information about a product can often be fragmented and scattered, even within an organization. This is equally applicable to the language and terminology used for a product. When a merger takes place, this information must be centralized to avoid problems further down the line.
  2. Once information is stored in one place, a review will be required to compile a comprehensive cross-company brand glossary and style guide. Both organizations will bring their own preferences and style, so the review will ensure there is no misalignment between the two. Make sure to involve product owners, writers, legal, marketing, and translation team managers to achieve a consensus.
  3. Translation memories will also be impacted, and the newly merged company will need to assess if legacy translation memories should be penalized moving forward. In our blog, From a Million Words to Fifty Thousand, you can learn more about the purpose and benefits a translation memory offers your organization. In this context, penalized refers to the match rate a term or phrase may have with another term or phrase in the translation memories’ systems. In translation memories, if a term or phrase has a 100% match, it can be pulled through automatically to replace the term or phrase. However, if the company has decided post-merger that the term or phrase is potentially no longer relevant, it can be penalized within the system so it no longer reflects as a 100% match, allowing a translator to step in and assess the situation.
  4. The newly merged company will need to assess which tools and suppliers are kept on board for the new translation process. You can learn more about adding new systems to your company here. Companies often rely on different tools to get work done. To ensure that no problems arise during the translation process (for example, incompatibility between tools), companies need to identify which tools and suppliers will be used, and then standardize their systems. Clients should seek the assistance of a trusted global partner to help them with this process.

Implementing these steps will help ensure that a merger or acquisition doesn’t dramatically impact the performance of your localization teams.

A localization and translation partner to help you through the M&A process

While these steps will help your localization and translation teams transition through this period, it’s always better to avoid or minimize these problems beforehand. The right content partner with experience in the global arena can help you achieve this. Rubric is a customer-centric Global Content Partner with years of experience developing and managing localization and translation strategies for multinational companies.

To find out more on how we can ensure your content localization and translation proceeds smoothly, no matter the circumstances, contact us today. If you need to keep up to date with the latest on localization systems that can help your business navigate mergers, be sure to subscribe to our blog.


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We’re swimming in more ‘Big Data’ than we know what to do with. Here’s the good news: the sheer amount of information on-hand can give you an accurate idea of who your customer is, and what should drive your globalization strategy. Both now and in the future.

Define your data goals from the outset

A good question to ask is: what content are people using, and where? With so much content being consumed digitally, businesses now have a number of data-rich channels to analyze. These include eLearning resources, eCommerce platforms, and website content. Usage data can be a treasure trove of information, but if you don’t know what to look for it can be overwhelming. To use Big Data effectively, define the questions you want the data to answer from the outset, then set a baseline from which you can measure the impact or change. From then on it’s an iterative process, whereby the success of your content is reviewed and localization strategy adjusted with each new metric gathered.

Get to know your user profiles

What content are your users consuming? Where are they based?

A user profile is a set of data that gives you an overview of browsing habits, as well as personal specifics such as gender, age, and location. This information provides an accurate idea of who is consuming different pieces of content. Additionally, by monitoring the success of existing translations and how they affect product sales, a business can ascertain which localization strategies work in a specific region, and which do not.

For example, a business may launch a campaign with the express purpose of gathering data about the user base in a specific market. This rich data could then be used for further expansion, as you would have a good idea of what content is received well and what doesn’t resonate with the audience. You can then localize accordingly, selecting which content requires translation into which languages.

Ensure your global strategy doesn’t overreach your budget

When it comes to budgeting for localization, you need to consider the value of your content.

For example: if a company finds that users only look at 20% of their product content, it would not make budgetary sense to translate the remaining 80%. So while high-value content demands high quality translation, it may be sufficient in terms of user experience and expectations for the remaining 80% low-value content to be machine translated using a service such as Google’s machine translation.

Gauging opinion with social media

The internet revolutionized the consumer–brand relationship. So much so, that entire careers are now built on managing, analyzing, and reacting to social media metrics. Where in the past a business would have to send out a survey for feedback, opinion is now easily gleaned, tracked, and measured from consumers’ comments and shares.

This insight is invaluable for brand expansion, gauging an audience’s opinion of competitors, and identifying ownable, niche areas. For brands that are already entrenched in a market, audience opinion and sentiment is crucial for growth. For example, should your organization offer a full multilingual customer service, or would simply localizing online product reviews be of greater benefit?

Back up your data-driven decisions with a trusted Global Content Partner

When it comes to localization strategy, a good rule of thumb is to have a baseline in place, with a target in mind, and to adjust as you go. Collecting usage data can help to determine which content (web pages, user manuals, and product information) should be localized, and into which languages. Tracking data also helps to identify which content is delivering results. It’s an iterative process that can be improved with the help of the localization expertise of a Global Content Partner, like Rubric. Check out more in our blog that mentions Facebook data.


Ian A. Henderson
April 3, 2019
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How translation memory cuts costs and elevates Global Content

As digital information expands, translation memory (TM) evolves with it. And today, TM systems are the most used translation applications in the world. A TM system is a complex undertaking that requires a particular skill set.

What is translation memory? In short, translation memory is a comprehensive database that recycles previous translations to be used in new text. By leveraging past translations, a translator can assess whether an automatically generated suggestion is appropriate for the text they’re adapting.

Uwe Reinke of Cologne University of Applied Sciences explains it as such:

“The idea behind its core element, the actual “memory” or translation archive, is to store the originals and their human translations of e-content in a computer system, broken down into manageable units, generally one sentence long. Over time, enormous collections of sentences and their corresponding translations are built up in the systems.”

This process not only saves time and effort, but maintains a high level of quality and consistency across Global Content projects.

The key benefits of translation memory

  • Cumulative savings

    A TM database “learns” from previous projects. When you begin a new one, the new text is segmented and analyzed against past translations to produce matches in your database. Over time, the accumulation of translation memory “knowledge” decreases costs on future translations, while expanding the depth of your text database.

  • Quick Turnaround

    Rubric was tasked with delivering a new level of weather personalization and global localization with AccuWeather’s Universal Forecast Database. From English to Korean, Rubric was able to reduce 1,000,000 words for translation to just 50,000. And though it took a year, we consider the completion of a project this vast to be quick turnaround. For further information about AccuWeather, keep reading.

  • Superior translations

    TM also aids in a translator’s accuracy and output. By aligning your business’s vocabulary, tone, and style, you give a translator the foundation they need to produce high quality translations.

The role of machine translation in translation memory

Simply put, machine translation (MT) is the automation of the translation process by computer. Where translation memory requires a human translator, machine translation is used in combination with TM to hasten project delivery without the need for human input.

There are a number of MT engines available:

  • Generic

    Google Translate, Bing, and similar are grouped here. These platforms provide quick translations to millions of people around the world and can be purchased by companies for API-integration into their systems.

  • Customizable

    An MT element that can be used to improve the accuracy of a business’s vocabulary within a specific field, be it medical, legal, or financial. Customizable MT can factor in a company’s own style and lexicon too.

  • Adaptive

    Introduced by Lilt in 2016, followed by SDL a year later, adaptive MT has greatly improved a translator’s output and is expected to challenge TM in the coming years.

In all cases, MT will attempt to create translated sentences from what it’s learned. For example, it may parse two or three TM matches and automatically combine them to complete a sentence. The result is often the kind of garbled, ungrammatical translation Google Translate produces at times. Because of this risk, a human translator should be available to audit and edit the results for project success.

Gaining efficiencies from large, repetitive texts such as product catalogues is an art that Rubric excels at. We analyze and filter texts to breakdown the component phrases and reduce the unique text for translation. Here’s how we introduce the human element into the act of translation.

How does Rubric use translation memory?

We briefly mentioned our involvement in AccuWeather’s Universal Forecast Database. Through content analysis and manipulation, we were able to translate an exhaustive database of weather phrases into form forecasts such as “sunny, mostly clear, with changing clouds in the afternoon”. Because the component phrase ‘sunny’ was repeated in the file thousands of times, we wanted to ensure we leveraged one translation for all of the repetitions to save costs. We achieved this by translating the above example phrase and ‘sunny’ separately.

Translators were then able to focus on the unique component phrases, while checking them against full weather forecast phrases for grammatical accuracy. With this approach we were able to reduce the scope of the database project from 1,000,000 words to around 50,000. The resultant savings in both cost and time were staggering.

Previous translations where the source text is identical to the new text, or partially matches it, can also be stored in translation memory. In either case, the TM will propose any matching database entries for the translator to use as they see fit.

TM can also be programmed to store translations by product. This is vital for when you have a new product and want to prioritize the order of multiple product TMs to assess how appropriate multiple translations would be. For example, using Windows XP terminology versus Windows 8, or Android terminology against iOS.

 

 

Rubric is a customer-centric, Global Content Partner. We partner with multinational companies to help them achieve their global strategy goals. Need help expanding globally? A trusted Global Content Partner will guide, expand, and strengthen the quality and impact of your translation. Sign up for a two-day workshop where we’ll analyze actual content examples from your business to show you how we can house, maintain and manipulate your TMs in a structured, consistent way across markets.


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