By Bridget Hylak, Administrator, Language Technology Division
NOTE: ATA TEKTalks in no way constitute nor are intended to imply an endorsement or promotion of any of the tools, products or professionals represented. ATA TEKTalks are presented to facilitate ATA members’ review and research of various lang tech tools.
Members of ATA’s Lang Tech Division, in gracious collaboration with the Professional Development Committee, were pleased to welcome Chris Wyant, Localization Program Manager with Smartling, during ATA TEKTalks 1.3 on July 19. Approximately 200 people registered for the online event.
The third installment this year in the LTD’s new quarterly series brought several fresh insights and possibilities to the table for freelance linguists and curious lang tech seekers.
In short, according to Wyant, Smartling is unique. It may not be for everyone, but for some – it just might be everything they need for a solid, valued and consistent freelance career.
An interactive and informative “talk show” style chat featured Wyant, LTD Admin Bridget Hylak, and LTD Assistant Admin, Daniel Sebesta – facilitated by Dmitry Beschetny of the PDC. Wyant responded to questions prepared and provided to him in advance, as well as a number of bonus questions from the audience. Time lapsed on a few of those questions, but Wyant later answered them via email, provided below.
Unlike online trainings and sales pitch webinars, the main question in the background of every ATA TEKTalks chat is simple: “Is XYZ tool the right one for you/your company?” This question was front and center (yet methodically woven into) the conversation.
Wyant was poised and qualified for the task and did his best to answer with optimism and obvious passion on Smartling’s behalf. As a 15-year translation industry veteran, currently leading vendor management for Smartling’s Language Services team, his primary focus is automating and optimizing linguists’ workflows, “without losing sight of the humans behind them,” according to his bio. “Our mission,” he said, “is to enable linguists to do their best work in an environment that requires linguists.”
For starters, using the Smartling tool is completely free to linguists. Language professionals incur no overhead, and can generally expect a steady flow of projects if their work is up to par (Smartling’s translator network is the place to sign up). In simplest terms, Smartling is a TMS (translation management system) for companies – Smartling clients — and linguists work on their behalf in a proprietary, feature-packed CAT tool with state of the art quality control tools. The CAT integrates with all major MT engines, streamlining and adding efficiency to the linguist’s workday, and can also integrate with content platforms.
Translation? Linguists have the potential to receive more work.
Wyant assured attendees that Smarting has a pleasant and dedicated support team for linguists and its clients, and that their knowledgebase is regularly updated. As a cloud-based tool, it supports all computers with a compatible browser and internet connection. They also offer the Global Ready Conference as a resource.
Linguists are vetted well, according to Wyant, and are subjected to occasional, ongoing evaluations, but they need not be certified by any specific organization to apply. “Our highest rated linguists will always be in high demand,” he said.
Translation companies may also benefit from Smartling, but things there may become a bit complicated, as the customer would need to bring the LSP into Smartling. In effect, LSPs would need to “share” their clients, and potentially proprietary information or processes, with Smartling to use the platform. But apparently, some clients of LSPs are opting to do just that. Unfortunately, we did not ask Chris how things would shake down monetarily in that situation, but any interested LSPs should do their homework there.
A tip? When asked whether Smartling is a tool for linguists, or a tech-forward LSP, Wyant answered, “Smartling is a tech-forward LSP that understands that human translators are the engine of our business, and their productivity is a win for everyone involved.”
Wyant did not specifically say whether or not the work done inside Smartling is primarily MTPE (machine translation post editing); however, he did indicate that, “MT is one of the options available to customers, and a productivity tool available to linguists.”
He insisted more than once that above all, the people at Smartling make it worthwhile, and praised the dedication of their staff – even going so far as to say “good bedside manner” and proven industry experience are something they look for in Project Managers.
Security and data protection? That question seemed easy. “Smartling is committed to information security,” he said, “is GDPR-compliant, and has been awarded several global security and process certifications, including PCI level 1, SOC 2, ISO 9001, and ISO 17100.” Let’s just hope the certifications are enforced and frequently audited, as sometimes becomes an issue with tech-forward companies. Oversight is essential, and it seems like Smartling is taking that seriously. This issue is not specific to Smartling by any means, and this author mentions it primarily for the sake of clients with highly-sensitive or classified documents that require the “specialist” of special handling.
Wyant was then asked a question which can become a real stickler in our industry, and that is the issue of copyright. Smartling is a cloud-based engine with a GDN and proxy server technology, which begged the question, who is the end owner of the translated output?
Wyant replied unequivocally, “Any and all content, including source content provided by the customer and any translated content, is unequivocally owned by the customer. The Smartling GDN,” he said, “is just one of dozens of pre-built connectors and integrations to third-party platforms, and the same customer copyright ownership applies to any and all of our integrations.”
Well, that was nice to hear!
Overall, Wyant did not disappoint, and he gave some of us clarity, some food for thought, and others a potential option to go for work – or not. Smartling shakes down as an interesting possibility to the right language professional or LSP, depending on their career goals, and while understanding the client’s experience was not part of this conversation – we assume things have been good enough there to keep the company on its current uptick. “Smartling is currently a leader in translation software and services and provides integrated solutions for hundreds of companies worldwide,” he concluded. So there.
We thank all attendees and Chris Wyant for another interesting ATA TEKTalks chat!
ATA TEKTalks will wrap up its inaugural year by welcoming RWS Group (formerly SDL/Trados) (ATA TT 1.4) on October 6, and is moving steadily toward honing the invite list for ATA TEKTalks 2.0 in 2023.
The bar is high regarding invited guests, as the LTD is specifically seeking out language industry colleagues with impressive experience in both language and tech to address tangible concerns and inquiries on their tools, company goals and more. Suggestions are very welcome. While the 2023 ATA TEKTalks roster is currently simmering on the back burner with various options, ATA members and/or lang tech company reps may nominate their favorite tool by contacting either Bridget Hylak or Daniel Sebesta on LinkedIn, and answering the question, “How would featuring your tool in an upcoming episode of ATA TEKTalks benefit ATA linguists, lang tech specialists and/or LSPs?”
We are also accepting suggestions for specific questions that attendees would like addressed in upcoming sessions – be specific, be honest and pull out all the stops. Visit our website, comment on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages, or simply email one of our members. That’s what ATA TEKTalks is all about, and we hope to see you there!
NOTE: All ATA TEKTalks sessions are recorded and can be listened to on a comparative basis as they evolve, which may prove a useful research tool to those looking to “compare and contrast” options before experimenting with or buying any tool.
Q&A Leftovers from ATA TT 1.3, answered via email:
What is GDN?
The Global Delivery Network (GDN) is Smartling’s proxy solution. It’s one of dozens of integrations available to customers to translate their content.
My question is on the integration of Smartling with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Translation, could you explain if Smartling uses/integrates AI tools?
Smartling can integrate directly with any MT/AI engines at a technology level, depending on customer needs. Linguists can leverage these tools as needed in their work.
Can the linguists working in/for the same Smartling project communicate with each other for the sake of higher quality?
We strongly encourage linguist communication for the sake of collaboration and alignment. There are communication functions built into our platform, as well as a transparent workflow that lets you know exactly who you’re working along with on any given project.
What does someone have to do to be part of the Smartling translators?
Please visit smartling.com/translator_information for all the details on how to apply to join our translation community.
Can Smartling handle large documents of 300 pages and more? Roughly 115,000 words and more?
There is no limit in terms of pages or words that Smartling can handle. Customers regularly translate millions of words using Smartling.
Are program managers available on WhatsApp?
We work with linguists all over the world and we ensure communicating with our PM team is as easy as possible.
When providing automated translation and localization of web sites to other languages, let’s imagine something needs to be localized only for a German or French audience, and would not appear on the English site. How does Smartling’s process handle that?
How this occurs really depends on the type of integration.
For example, a customer using our Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) connector can specify within AEM that a specific page should be available only in French or German, and no English page exists.
If a customer is using our GDN (proxy) integration, for example, the customer can specify that certain pages are only available for specific languages; if the user were to somehow try to access a page for a prohibited language, the GDN can either show a standard 404 “Page Not Found” error (in the appropriate language), or automatically redirect the user to a customer-specified page.
With website localization, if the text is automatically translated by a tool, sometimes text can be missed (along with important concepts). Industry tech specialists call such occurrences “bleed-throughs.” Does this ever happen in Smartling’s platform, and if so, do you have solutions or checks/balances in place to prevent or to correct it?
“Bleed through” simply means that a website is showing untranslated content where it shouldn’t.
Bleedthrough is thought to be a common problem with translation proxies, but it’s really only a problem with less-sophisticated proxies that haven’t built the right solutions. In Smartling’s case, we have functionality to specifically prevent unwanted “bleedthrough” using a number of strategies to prevent untranslated content from being inadvertently displayed to a customer.
Smartling GDN can also cache pages (or page regions) until the new content is fully translated, and automatically update the cache upon completion.
>> You can view this ATA TEKTalk here (free for ATA members; $25 for non-members).