Curva Fin Bloque
POSTS 14 MAY, 2014

Reflections on Gala Istanbul 2014 – The perspective of a translation company language specialist

The GALA 2014 conference was being held in Istanbul, Turkey from 24rd till 26th of March, bringing together experts and key figures of the global translation and interpretation industry. Here’s our summary from the perspective of a translation company language specialist, A. Thömel.

On Monday 24th of April, the conference “kicked off” with a presentation by Fikret Orman, president of Beşiktaş, a Turkish football club from Istanbul with a history spanning over more than 100 years. In his keynote address, Mr Orman shared some interesting insights into the management of his team and, in a side remark, made clear what type of player he is himself, mentioning his work schedule of 16h/7 days a week. As a welcomed gesture, he had brought with him one of the black and white striped shirts of the club for each of the over 300 GALA attendees. They didn’t hesitate to slip the shirts over the imaginary ones they were already wearing for their own team in their respective leagues (CAT-Tool developers, MT vendors, Management Systems, etc.), leading to visually striking moment which rightfully suggested a togetherness. Because that’s what Gala Istanbul was going to be about, getting together and learning from each other in a friendly and professional atmosphere.


While the full schedule of the individual speakers sessions can be looked up here, continue reading for some handpicked highlights at a glance:

  • Paul Filking from SDL

Paul Filking from SDL asked the question “Are you truly interoperable?”. His departure point was a typical scenario where a provider starts working with a CAT-Tool, then an accounting system, a content management system, and so on. As business grows, he starts working with other providers who have their own CAT, CMS, etc. That’s when an integration between all those systems would be needed, but it’s not there. The systems work in parallel but not truly together, so things get growingly complicated. Here, the much discussed question of “standards” comes in – are they actually helping with interoperability? While in certain scenarios, standards really do help (the picture of maybe 20 different phone chargers is well known but still generates a giggle as we all know the problem so well), Paul doesn’t believe that, because open standards will never be able to keep up with innovation. He instead focuses on APIs and custom extensions done by individual providers to provide interoperability. With APIs, which function as doors into an application, all the different systems can sort of talk to each other and one does not need to wait for new standards, he can take advantage of the latest technology trends using the tools he already has. For instance, as people love “their” cat(-tool)s and often tend to stay with the one they bought. When Studio 2009 came out, Pangeanic’s Machine Translation solution, PangeaMT, was in its initial phase of commercialization and not yet directly integrated into CAT-tool workflows. Nowadays, everybody using Studio can directly choose PangeaMT via API amongst other providers, as can be seen in this slide of Paul’s presentation:


Amongst the various mentioned scenarios made possible through API-integration, one of the most striking ones was the following: Somebody post-editing Machine Translation material by voice recognition -even with his phone!

  • Adam Blau from Blau Consulting

Adam Blau from Blau Consulting in the section “Reaching Out” suggested ways to take the “Black Magic” out of hiring localizations Business Development Managers. He made clear from the beginning why the right hiring technique is so important: A hiring mistake after one year could not only mean 30,000 EUR lost in salary, but also 300,000 EUR in lost opportunities. Adam offered us many of the right questions to ask in order to avoid such a mistake, such as: If the BDMs are supposed to work with small companies, have they worked in one themselves before? During interviews, do they demonstrate the same skills and work habits they need when it comes to understand the buyers? Do they show a thirst for industry-specific knowledge? Will your company be able to provide the travel budgets etc. they are used to have? Do they fit your clients and the way they buy? Setting short term goals is another way to assure your HHRR investment and the respective expectations should made be very clear from the beginning on.

  • Gustavo Lucardi from Trusted Translations

Gustavo Lucardi from Trusted Translations explained how to obtain new clients online. His first and possibly most important advice was setting the theme of his presentation: “Play with Google!”. While most of us probably think we already know and use Google well, when the audience was asked who was using Google Webmaster Tools, only 10 hands or so were raised in a rather full conference venue. For Gustavo, this clearly meant an opportunity worthwhile to be explored. Google Webmaster Tools and the seemingly more popular Google Analytics are free and enable us, together with Google AdWords, to determine important things as the conversion rates from Google to our websites, the impressions (number of times our site appears in search results) and our AdWords investment. The secret is the interaction between all three tools to measure the traffic we receive and make sure it’s not just any traffic, but quality traffic.

One of various mentioned SEO related points, also related to traffic and the cost of pay per click, is the bounce rate. A “bounce” happens every time somebody lands on one of your websites, but then doesn’t continue with another page of your site. To give an example, if you landed directly on this blog and later -or right NOW -decide to click on Machine Translation and learn about PangeaMT, our machine translation solution, this site’s bounce rate goes down rather than up, which shows the site generates interest.

  • Fabiano Cid from Ccaps and Diego Bartolomé from tauyou

As far as the sessions go, a special mention has to go to Fabiano Cid from Ccaps and Diego Bartolomé from tauyou who told the audience how they failed to win a 100,000,000 Word contract and possibly offered the perfect mix of entertainment and the kind of stimulating, thought-provoking discussion one was expecting from this conference. The retelling of their communication with a Latin American editorial company raised subjects as the difference between light post-editing…


… and full post-editing:


Those were just some of the points discussed with that client, till the day he disappeared and they never heard from him again:


When Diego and Fabiano asked the audience members what they would have done, various industry professionals offered their interesting points of view.


Many more things are worthwhile being mentioned about Gala 2014: The good food served upstairs (while downstairs some MT developers were proving an obsession with ill-conceived fast food metaphors in their misunderstanding of what User Empowerment in Machine Translation really is), an amazing dinner complete with traditional belly dancer and the thinnest waiters in whole Turkey (if you have been there, you know why), the challenges of speed networking, the amazing organization by Laura Brandon and her great team…and the friendly people from Turkey like the team of main sponsor Urban Translation Services.

This blog entry started with a football related notice and it will end with another one: Pangeanic was excited to realize that in many ways we and several other companies from Spain will have a “home field advantage” in 2015 as the place for the next GALA conference was announced to be the beautiful city of Seville. We are already looking forward to meet you there.

By A.Thömel