The professional services industry has seen rapid gains in efficiency and output owing to technology led advances within the last two decades. An increasing number of purpose-built, specialist software has allowed professionals to increase efficiency and produce better results. The language services industry is one such example which has benefitted from the introduction of new technologies. However, the inexistence of technical standards has created new challenges for the industry.
Growing demand for translation has resulted in expectations from buyers of greater production capacities and lower unit costs. Yet the lack of interoperability in data transfer containers has resulted in additional tasks for translators both at pre- and post-processing stages. It is estimated that 30% of the average professional translator’s time is taken up by formatting, resolving compatibility issues, maintaining language assets and other related tasks. This increases the unit cost of translation and limits the overall supply capacity available in the market.
Translation workflows are becoming increasingly varied and complex; different resources and technologies are utilised to deliver the outputs. From machine translation to crowd-sourced editing, the steps involved often include the use of different data sources managed by different tools. A uniform set of standards would determine how data should be interchanged enabling a smooth, automated flow of content through the workflow. As translators would spend a greater proportion of their time translating, unit costs would fall and productivity increase.
The push to develop standards has been discussed by industry members on various platforms. One of the proposed solutions is the development of open translation platforms that simplify the translation process. By focusing on the most common tasks and interactions between the tools, appropriate solutions can be developed to overcome existing problems.
Initiatives that achieve most traction are those with backing from well-established industry associations and aim for participation from a diverse community of stakeholders. GALA, the Globalization and Localization Association, launched a Standards Initiative last year aimed at implementing practical projects to overcome the challenges that exist. A number of projects have been initiated to make strides towards creating industry standards.
GALA’s Standards Initiative is running various projects that focus on major areas of concern. For example, the “Linport Project” is aimed at addressing interoperability issues with translation project packages, that is the components and meta-data of a standardised translation project. The aim of the project is to develop an open, vendor-independent format that can be used by different translation tools. GALA’s backing along with other organisations has created greater awareness about the project and introduced other sponsors and advocates.
The languages service industry is growing at 10-15% annually; however, the challenges around interoperability are mounting and have the potential to disrupt the industry’s momentum. The development of technical standards designed by the industry’s community is essential to ensure both buyer and supplier expectations can continue to be met in the future.