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Priority matrix with Importance as the x-axis and Urgency as the Y-axisMaking translation a priority may pose certain challenges if you are not a language services provider (LSP). But if you’re reading this, it’s probably because you know that the benefits are equally compelling. The good news is that a partnership with the right LSP can help you overcome some of the challenges that you may be facing, internally or externally. But there will also be some internal work involved, too. Translation company Lilt’s State of Localization report for 2021 provides some interesting insight for anyone considering how translation fits (or could fit) into their current operations.

cover image for Lilt's State of Localization 2021 reportThe report is based on a survey of nearly 1,000 experts involved in localization. The majority of respondents are based in North America and work in localization, marketing, or product and engineering. Whether respondents’ companies have a centralized or a decentralized approach to localization was close to being evenly split: 56% have a centralized approach while 44% have a decentralized approach. “Centralized” doesn’t necessarily mean that the translation itself is done in-house, though it may mean that. It simply means that the company has a dedicated localization team, rather than assigning tasks and responsibilities related to localization to various employees across other teams, whose primary job duties are not related to localization.

Making translation a priority stands out in the report because of its universality – many professionals see the benefits of being able to do so, but also commiserate about common challenges they face.

A quick note about translation versus localization: they are related but not synonymous. Translation is rewriting text or copy in another language. Localization includes translation but also incorporates additional elements that ensure an asset is fully adapted to an intended audience. One example is examining whether imagery is appropriate and reflects the values of the intended audience, and replacing it if it does not. If you want to learn more, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) does a good job at defining and comparing globalization terminology.

How does localization affect your business?

Can't Read, Won't Buy in Figures84% of respondents to Lilt’s State of Localization survey believe that localization impacts revenue, and 91% believe it has an impact on customer experience. Arguably, those two metrics go hand in hand: a superior customer experience may lead to increased revenue. In one of our posts about patient education materials in healthcare translation, we referenced the “can’t read, won’t buy” study, which shows that online shoppers are less likely to buy a product from a website that is not in their native language.

Despite these numbers, 51% of respondents do not believe that localization is a priority in their company strategy. The report also shows that only 6% of professionals involved in localization are in senior leadership positions. C-level executives may not be able to include localization in their purview, or they may not be aware of how and why they should. We see executive level buy-in as an important step towards giving localization the attention, and resources, it needs to live up to its full potential.

Pain points

This brings us to some interesting insight from the report regarding pain points around making translation a priority. The top 6 pain points reported by localization professionals are:

  1. Complex processes
  2. Limited bandwidth
  3. Translation quality
  4. Lack of automation
  5. Insufficient budget
  6. Inadequate planning

statistics from Lilt's State of Localization 2021 reportThe degree to which your LSP can alleviate these varies, and some internal effort is required at the outset. For example, if there is absolutely zero bandwidth within your company to support localization, then an LSP won’t even have the chance to get involved. Once key players are in place, however, an LSP with a proven record of solid project management can multiply internal bandwidth. Streamlined workflows and standard operating procedures consolidate and simplify complex processes for their clients.

A professional LSP should also be relying on some degree of automation. All of our translations are done by humans, with a nuanced understanding of the target language and culture (we do not use machine translation). However, we do utilize industry technology such as computer assisted translation (CAT) tools and translation memory (TM), which allow us to prepare and complete projects more quickly and efficiently. These tools also leverage repetitive content, which not only provides a time and cost saving advantage, but also ensures brand and terminology consistency. And now we’ve come full circle to the impact that making translation a priority can have on your brand – a better customer experience can lead to increased engagement or sales, while a minimal or insufficient effort risks turning away potential clients.

Inadequate planning is another two-way street between a company and their LSP. For example, most LSPs can accommodate rush requests to some degree, but if everything that goes into a localization project has not been properly accounted for, the desired outcome may simply not be possible. Word count and team availability are only one part of the equation, albeit important ones. A thorough visual proof of localized artwork, user testing of a localized mobile app, and in-country review of a final asset all take time, but may be neglected in the client-side planning process. A good LSP will serve as a partner, providing insight and answering questions around feasibility and best practices.

Ready to Make Translation a Priority?

Whether you are part of an internal localization team seeking an LSP partner or you are dipping your toe in the localization pool because you see the potential that making translation a priority has for your company, we would encourage you to check out our Global Communication Maturity Model or take our assessment. Our hope is that it would provide you with some insight about short- and long-term considerations and maybe even some next steps towards fulfilling your business’s global potential. If you have questions or want to learn more, we’d enjoy having a conversation with you – please get in touch!