Lionbridge Technologies
Recently we reported about how global businesses need to become, well, more global. At least in the way they create, manage and publish multilingual content. Companies need to think more strategically about global content management, if they are to be key players in the global marketplace. In an effort to provide more context to the conversation and profile an active contributor to the translation and localization industry, we spoke with Paula Shannon, senior VP and chief sales and marketing officer of Lionbridge Technologies.

The Skinny on Lionbridge

Lionbridge, a provider of translation and localization services, helps global companies meet their customers’ language and cultural preferences by adapting a wide range of deliverables, such as documentation, software, technical writing, web sites and multimedia. As more companies recognize the need to produce their materials in multiple languages and manage their content outside the local domain, the challenge of translation may keep them from doing so. Often, the biggest issue here is the way a company goes about integrating translation services. The challenge in translating materials from a primary language (often English) into other languages lies in the inability to capture the nuances of the language, which results in materials being unreadable. Yet, who can execute the quality control needed to oversee the organic translation of dozens or hundreds of languages? Lionbridge says it can. With nearly 5,000 regular staff and 10,000 third-party translators, Lionbridge thrives on handling the breadth of languages and the rapid growth of the global marketplace. Before even basic translation takes place, Lionbridge likes to ensure that products work globally before they are adapted locally and culturally. Lionbridge provides management and international relations services for multilingual endeavors, as they test products and software locally in order to solve potential usability issues, interface problems and dialect variances.

Following the Long Tail of Languages

Following the footsteps of Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail, people are selling less to more people. Microsoft, for example, one of Lionbridge's more prominent clients, currently reaches 1 billion users. By 2010, they aim to reach 8 billion. A very ambitious goal, to say the least, but the goal that Lionbridge will help them reach by enabling Microsoft to capture users' attention in a mere 1,234 languages. Once you realize that exposing your product to more people is necessary, if not essential, it's important to factor in the immense amount of product communication that this process entails. Whereas product updates may launch once every 8-12 months and content is updated hourly, transactions are constant. Transaction costs are increasing, while translation costs are not as burdensome as they once were. Though each of those updates needs to be translated into hundreds or thousands of languages, Lionbridge manages the translation memory of the updates, streamlining the process and cutting down the costs. The company recognizes that striking a balance between access and management is crucial to successful global content management.

Organization Before Translation

With Lionbridge's arsenal of tools and support, clients are able to reach more by doing less without sacrificing quality or reputation. Recognizing that not every client is Microsoft, Lionbridge offers many ways to translate: from manual edits to machine translation to author assist and even citizen translation, which is their open source solution. Even though most clients are already working globally, before translation can even begin, many need help with organizing and managing projects. Finding out where and how a client's information is accessed, stored and managed often provides Lionbridge with great insight into just how they'll go about supporting the client's global initiatives. From exploring new demographics and geographically diverse audiences to mobile and social networks, the way content is developed can influence the global impact a company makes.

Evolving Globally

Realistically, most of Lionbridge clients are using only one of the many products the company offers. Ideally, Lionbridge hopes to evolve clients' needs. With solutions that aim to handle the future of macro environments, in which content's shelf life is limited to hours, experimenting with different technologies is key. From hosted applications and desktop services to web-based SaaS, Lionbridge is dedicated to providing the most relevant services to their charges, putting a new spin on the old adage "Think globally, act locally."