Category Archives: Conferences

Our take from Elia’s ND Focus for Executives

by Vasso Pouli, CEO at Commit 

How does the theatre of Epidaurus, Zeus, the king of gods, and Talos, the ancient robot, play into a Mission, Vision and Execution workshop? Well, to start with, the ELIA ND Focus for Execs conference took place last month at a magnificent resort just one-hour drive from Chania, Crete, thus the allusions and references to Greek history and mythology were unavoidable, to say the least.

On the other hand, the comparison between the old and the new (the ancient theatre of Epidaurus and a contemporary state-of-the-art concert hall), when addressing a rather dissimilar group of executives in the language industry, some having founded companies as many as 30 years ago, some being rather new in the localization industry and some representing the new blood in already year-old companies, offers a new perspective to the concept of business transformation: how important it is for the viability of the company, how tricky it is to get it right and how the success stories and failures of others can serve as useful examples to imitate or to avoid.

Zeus, the god of the sky, thunder, law and order was a nice introduction to the M&A scenery, and how one can lead and strategize for potential alliances, mergers or buyouts even from the beginning. Then, the story of Talos, the mythical giant automation which circled the shores of Crete three times daily to protect the island from pirates and invaders, was a smart allusion to the concept of operating leverage and how an organizational model can tweak and shift to accommodate new realities.

Tuyen Ho, VP of Corporate Development at Welocalize, offered great insight in how one can plan, implement, stay the course, pivot and change, but especially how one can go about executing on what they have envisioned as leaders for their people in order to ensure that their offerings stay relevant to their customers both today and in the future.

Thank you, ELIA Program Committee, for an insightful event and for the traditional Cretan dance experience!

ELIA ND Brussels 2016 – In Review

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It’s been a week after the ELIA ND event in Brussels but it’s never too late for an impressions review, right?

This year, Elia’s Networking Days event was held in the heart of the city of Brussels, very close to the astonishing Grand Place and the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Commit was represented by General Manager and former ELIA Director Spyros Konidaris, Operations Manager Vasso Pouli and Account Manager Nikoletta Kaponi.

The mix of people, sessions, topics, venue and location made this edition of Networking Days another successful event. Here are some highlights of the conference through our eyes:

The workshop From Manager to Leader – develop your leadership skills by Eszter and Tamás Avar gave us some very useful insight into what leadership consists of and how it is different from managing, and they did this by allowing us to experiment hands-on with the abilities and potential of human behavior. The workshop was a window to a new school of thought and we hope we get the chance to see more of that in the future.

On a different note, Inger Larsen shared some of her valuable experience in recruitment and explained why we should value the ‘trouble-maker’ and the ‘finisher’, as she very aptly put it there is usually an angle these people see that others may not.

Analisa Delvecchio’s presentation on the successful adoption of a Translation Management System was literally breathtaking, as she moved from one slide to the next without taking a breath. It was one of the most comprehensive and composed, though more time for Q&A may have been a good idea.

The Customer Analytics session by Madhuri Hegde was rather intriguing, as most attendees could identify with the inflow of unexploited data and Madhuri’s modest tips on how to use this huge pool of customer information to grow our business have definitely hit the spot.

We also got the chance to learn more on the intricacies of crowdsourcing during Yota Georgakopoulou’s session on Microtask translation workflows, which included some very interesting findings from Yota’s work with “external and internal crowds” for the purpose of developing high-quality machine translations for all text types included in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

On the QA front, Alan Melby presented the Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM) framework for developing metrics appropriate for various types of translations, and he also put forward a very interesting definition for translation quality, stating that “Translation quality is: meeting good specs”.

And of course– we were in the heart of Europe after all – the EU track was full of comprehensive information about how to get into the European (and international) institutions’ translation market, and what is expected after we are awarded a contract, with detailed and practical sessions by Claudio Chiavetta and Jean-Paul Dispaux, long-time experts in this field. Additionally, Aikaterini Sylla highlighted how the EU is finally taxonomizing our industry professions.

With our eyes set to the future, we attended the panel discussion on globalization to find out What the future of the future looks like. The panel consisted of globalization-involved professionals from some of the most exciting companies in the world: Netflix, Prezi, The Nielsen Company and ANZU Global. Their insights on the client needs which constantly evolve, diversify and multiply, as well as their different workflows and approaches to localization gave us the bigger picture of the priorities and strategies that leading companies are putting forward when it comes to going global.

Last but not least, the keynote was indeed an eye-opener to how biased we are by definition as human beings not to mention in our professional and business exchanges. It is amazing what a fly in the men’s toilet bowl can do, besides entertain them also reduce cleaning costs, and it is fascinating how we can ‘play’ with human psychology to achieve our goals. “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” (Abraham H. Maslow), so here’s to thinking outside the box and to more incisive decision-making!

Training, learning and networking, amidst chocolate, beers and (a lot of) mussels – we wonder what’s in store for the next edition of ELIA’s Networking Days next year in Bucharest!

ND Focus for Executives – In review

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A series of new events was launched by ELIA, the first one being ND Focus for Executives. The Focus events are targeted to specific stakeholders within the LSP industry and Commit was once again there to attend this event; the venue was intentionally secluded to allow for brainstorming without distractions, and Barceló Formentor at Cape Formentor, Mallorca, fulfilled every promise for reclusiveness.

The event featured two tracks, one on Business Strategies and one on Mergers and Acquisitions, and we attended both.

The Business Strategies track was moderated by Arturo Quintero, co-founder of Moravia, who offered a valuable insight in the landmarks of strategic planning an organization must have in place in order to achieve sustainable growth. The track included a few workshop features on determining the basic tools and processes towards corporate identification and development. An intriguing discussion evolved around the necessity and usefulness of mission and vision statements and their role in employee engagement. Two interesting exercises that revealed the many different levels of both maturity and expectations in the group – more than 50 people, among whom were both company owners and managing directors – were the internal and external assessment and the SWOT analysis. Arturo shared examples from his wealthy experience at Moravia encouraging the attendees to also honestly share their own personal challenges and concerns. The Business Strategies track has indeed been an inspiration for setting our eyes to the future and taking the necessary steps to get there.

The Mergers & Acquisitions track was moderated by Geert Vanderhaeghe, who brought in many years of banking experience, along with his recent involvement in the LSP industry. As the topic of M&As can be a really wide one, the sessions tried to cover the essentials of mergers and acquisitions, both from the buyer and the seller point of view, including financials, market opportunities, and some dos and don’ts. What we found really interesting was the exercise that took place during the last session, where we were called to identify the pros and cons of both our industry and our companies. Lots of opinions were exchanged, revealing the different perspectives of LSPs of many sizes, plus the views and struggles of company owners trying to distinguish between running a corporate or a lifestyle company.

Lots of knowledge to be absorbed but there is enough time till the next edition of the ND Focus for Executives to be held in Greece in 2017! See you all there!

 

 

Elia Together 2016 – In Review

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On February 11th and 12th 2016, the European Language Industry Association (ELIA) held its first Together Conference in Barcelona, Spain and Commit was there!

The moto of the event was “Developing our Connections” and it aimed in bringing together freelance language professionals and companies. The conference consisted of three streams: Relationships, Growth and Technology with the purpose of covering every aspect of the LSP-vendor relationship.

During the conference we got to connect with many freelance translators and other language industry stakeholders from all around the world and had the chance to exchange views on “hot” industry topics.

The Conference started with the “Welcome to Together 2016” session, followed by the keynote speech “Stronger Together: revitalizing the agency-freelancer relationship”, held by Stephen Lang, where he stressed that the agency – freelancer relationship is the foundation of our industry. We left the session having a better understanding and appreciation of our counterparts and their respective challenges.

We also attended the “Keys to effective relationships between agencies and freelance translators” presented by Robert Sette. It was an enlightening presentation under the Relationships stream exploring “both sides of the coin” in situations of placing/accepting translation projects.

Sue Leschen presented “Confidentiality issues and problems for interpreters and translators working with LSPs”, explaining that defining confidentiality is problematic as it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to everybody in the language services industry.

The Panel consisting of Sarah Griffin-Mason, Dr. Ana Hoffmeister and Anu Carnegie – Brown “Tailored certification and training for freelancers based on ISO 17100 and the role of LSPs in translator continuing professional development (CPD)” provided unique experiences of a certification concept for freelancers which was piloted in 2015 and will soon be available in German-speaking areas.

Josef Kubovsky tackled the issue “Can enterprise, LSPs and freelance language professionals work together in a transparent way?” whereas Maria Kania-Tasak presented the “The LSP X Factor” just before the Closing ceremony.

Last but not least, it must be mentioned that the ELIA Together 2016 was held in one of the most beautiful European cities, Barcelona. The venue was the World Trade Center, a lovely seaside conference and business center located at the heart of Barcelona, just a few minutes from downtown and the tourist-filled Las Ramblas street. The proximity to the city center along with the great Spanish weather added much to the success of the event.

Commit enjoyed the ELIA Together Conference very much and wishes all the best to all participants! See you in Berlin next February for Together 2017!

ELIA NETWORKING DAYS KRAKOW – IN REVIEW!

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Another successful ELIA event took place at the beginning of this past October in the picturesque city of Krakow and Commit was there, as always! Once again, ELIA gave us the opportunity to connect with our fellow peers, exchange ideas, extend our business networks and catch up on the latest trends of the localization industry, in a friendly and welcoming environment.

The program included not only interesting presentations, but a number of entertaining social events as well that allowed all attendees to relax over a glass of wine – or more… – and enjoy delicious treats. The official unofficial cocktail at The Baroque, the cocktail and banquet at the Rynek Underground, a brunch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, the dinner at the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Adventure Game in Krakow’s Old Market were all equally exciting and fun!

However, we did find the time to attend several sessions that gave us enough food for thought until the next ELIA event. Here are some of the highlights:

Mika Pehkonen presented The Quality Myth – A deep dive into what our customers think and gave us an insight into the client’s perception of quality and F-Secure’s agile approach to the localization process. By using automated workflows and extensive scripting, Mika mentioned they have managed to reduce management costs, avoid delays in product development since localization is performed as the product is being developed, thus being able to simultaneously launch localized versions of any given product, get measurable results on errors and bugs that can be fixed on-the-fly and keep both vendors and clients happy!

In The Evolving Use of MT Technology, Kirti Vashee was quite persuasive on the benefits – yes, there are! – of machine translation, shedding some light on the most common misconceptions and the reasons why so many MT deployment projects actually fail. While there is still an ongoing debate regarding machine translation technology and its effects on the role of translators, pricing and the localization industry as a whole, Kirti chose to address the subject from an entirely different point of view, that of using MT technology as a business development tool and, admittedly, made a strong point.

In an interactive workshop, Bob Donaldson gave us a few useful pointers on Overcoming Common Barriers to Growth. In a nutshell, no matter how small or big your business is, the basic principles of business development are the same. You need to establish a proper organizational structure that will allow you to be prepared for the future, having the necessary, experienced and properly trained resources, or as Bob put it: Go “tall” before you go “wide”! Effective communication and cooperation between departments, suitable performance metrics, corporate policies that reflect your vision and delegation are some of the most important factors on your road to success.

Finally, the keynote presentation, The New Differentiator: ‘Below the Waterline’, by Dr. John J. Scherer and Amy Barnes, was by general consensus one of the highlights of the event. With equal doses of interaction, education and fun, the presenters captivated their audience’s interest from the very first moment to the last, providing an interesting view of what can actually be our differentiator in an ever so competitive market. We all know, from our personal experience as consumers that the way we feel is often what drives us to choose a specific product or service, even if the price is not the lowest one. So, achieving this sentiment in our communication and interaction with customers, employees, resources etc., or in other words finding that “sweet spot” where our needs are perfectly aligned with the needs of the others and the situation, could become a competitive edge over competition.

If you’re intrigued, don’t miss the chance to attend ELIA’s next event “Together 2016” in February, the first one to bring freelancers and LSPs together. And the “Focus” event in Mallorca next Spring, a brand new event as well, focused on LSP executives. Commit will be there!

 

 

ELIA Networking Days Lyon – in review!

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The latest edition of ELIA Networking Days took place in beautiful Lyon. What made the event special was the fact that it was ELIA’s 10th anniversary and it was celebrated accordingly. Amongst other events, the 10th anniversary dinner was held at the Abbaye de Collonges, “powered” by the famous chef Paul Bocuse! The conference itself took place at the Lyon Convention Centre with session rooms providing a beautiful view over the river Rhone and the adjacent park.

Sessions covered lots of topics related to the translation and localization industry, with tracks ranging from Technology to Life Sciences, and from Business Management to Smart Sales. As always, here’s our quick list of takeaways from the event.

  • Clio Schils, in a double session, shared her vast experience and talked about the future of life sciences. Some amazing things are in store for life sciences; M-health is here and taking over! As for LSPs:
    • The higher the risk (of the medical/pharma product etc.), the more documentation there is to be translated.
    • Follow regulatory news if you want to provide some added value service to your clients.
  • Anita Wilson described how to leverage transcreation as a service. A few “tweets” that stood out:
    • Translating “I’m loving it” for McDonalds should cost a lot more than €0.30. Doesn’t it cost tens of thousands just to create the motto?
    • Marketing translation is not a service to be charged on a per word rate.
    • Do you transcreate images? Make sure to replace small boats with big yachts when targeting rich countries!
  • Sabrina Ferrari talked not only about the importance of KPIs but also how to leverage them for marketing and sales purposes. Have you thought of including KPIs in your company collateral? For example, your customer retention rate could be a key selling point!
  • Gerry Lynch described the experience of doing business in the US, lots of interesting (to say the least) stories. Merging with a local company was the best solution he said. And if you are worried about the city you pick, just look if there is competition around. If so, then opportunities are there, as well as resources.
  • Doug Strock provided ideas about diversifying your business. Be careful though not to damage your brand when adding a new service to your portfolio.
  • In a session-turned-workshop, Britta Weber tackled the ever-challenging topic of customer complaints. When a customer complains, your first reaction is important! Talk slowly, say your name, and reduce aggression.
  • Matthias Ceasar provided insight coming from years of personal experience as to the growing pains of an LSP, and what is the perfect size, if there is one. The conclusion? There is no right or wrong, it depends on how you see yourself in the future. “Success comes with maturity and curiosity”.
  • Tony O’Dowd and Jeff Allen – besides providing music during the dinner – pointed out how the cloud provides opportunities to small companies and how minority languages can be leveraged as a business proposition respectively.

Finally, in an inspiring keynote speech, Ralph Blundell addressed the topic of “Ethics as a business differentiator”.

  • Positive stories are your most powerful marketing tool.
  • Nobody really works for the money (!) If you do so you would become a drug dealer!
  • Moderation is necessary: excess is always damaging. There is an optimum size and growth for everything. If only more people applied it in everyday life!

Happy Birthday ELIA and thank you for a wonderful conference! Next ND stop: Krakow, October 1-3, 2015. See you there!

 

Internet Summit 2014 – Key Takeaways

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Last week Commit attended Internet Summit, a Digital Marketing strategies and education oriented Conference in Raleigh, NC. Internet Summit is the largest digital strategies and best practices forum in the Southeast, created to educate and promote forward thinking and thought leadership on Digital Marketing topics.

With speakers from Apple, Yahoo! Tech, Twitter, Google and more, there was so much to learn from the Content Marketing, Social Media, Analytics and Emerging Technologies world.

Here’s a look at some of the key takeaways from the Internet Summit 2014 :

“57% of the buying process is already done before you speak to your buyer. Buyers are learning on their own and delaying their contact with suppliers until late in the purchase.” – Jodi Wearn, Silverpop

“71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.” – McGavock Edwards, IMRE

“Email is dead. Why? Killed by spam. Replaced by social media. Not relevant for younger audiences. Ineffective for retailers. Not ideal for team communication.” – Michael Barber, COHN

“Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment, 3% of emails result in a click. Your new sales rep is Google and your website!” – Jeff Perkins, PGi

Social Game Plan (Jodi Wearn, Silverpop):

  1. Pick your top 2 social networks and FOCUS
  2. Assign resources to monitor and promote
  3. Leverage hashtags wherever possible
  4. Actively blog

Five ways to create more profitable content (Chris Moody, Oracle):

  1. Brainstorm with staff
  2. Interview your colleagues
  3. Have a Blogathon
  4. Stop trying to hit home runs
  5. Turn your email into content

“Think mobile FIRST! 80% of people delete an email if it doesn’t look good on their mobile device!” – Jodi Wearn, Silverpop

“The average consumer unlocks their phone 110 times a day” – Robin Wheeler, Twitter

“What motivates you to do your best? Being personally excited and motivated internally.” – Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder

“The “Internet of Things” is where technology is going. Every item in your home will be connected to the Internet. Your printer will be able to order its own paper. Your car will drive itself. Autonomous everything.” – David Pogue, Yahoo

Commit had a great time at the conference and learned a great deal about digital marketing and social media from the experts. We came back feeling inspired from these fascinating presentations and we are now looking forward to start implementing all this new knowledge and strategies we acquired!

ELIA Networking Days Tuscany – in review

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Another ELIA ND event is over – unfortunately – because it seems that all attendees would rather stay in the Tuscany area and relax with amazing food and wine under a gorgeous weather. But – returning to reality – we all have to get back to our regular lives and, of course, continue to run our localization business. Speaking of, let’s round up what we took back with us from this extraordinary event:

1. As mentioned before, dozens of (red) wine bottles that we are sure will help us relax after (or during?) our hard-days work.

2. Lots of interesting thoughts about our industry future:

  • During the “Wired/Tired/Expired” session by Michael Oettli, attendees were divided in teams and had to discuss and report back the trends/tools/processes in our industry that are obsolete (Expired), just barely making it (Tired) and are in for the future (Wired). We were surprised by the common ground reported back: Our industry is changing fast and LSPs need to adapt to new models, processes, technologies, but – most of all – attitudes towards client relationships.
  • In the “LSP-Client Collaboration as a Growth Startegy for LSP’s” session, David Kanek and Robert Etches talked about the importance of involving the client in the translation process and suggested that we should all embrace changes in our industry. They also mentioned how we can use crowd-sourcing to cut down costs and  pointed out that even banks have fans! Their main point: We sell solutions, not words!
  • During the “Perfect Tools” session, led by Christian Schwendy and Patrick Bajon, in addition to all the nice technology tweaks that all the teams reported they would like to see (including a client bank money extractor tool), we were introduced to the Six Hats theory that can prove very useful in our every day business. We will certainly put it into action in our company!
  • In the “Why is MT about speed” session, Eef Blommaart  pointed out that we can provide “Fast”, “Good” & “Cheap” services, all at the same time by using machine translation.

3. Some practical tips from sessions to apply to our daily businesses:

  • Robert Ganzerli presented tips and tricks for preparing a budget in our (uncertain) industry. Main points: Use historical data and involve everyone in the thought process.
  • Maria Kania-Tasjak advised us on which RFPs are made for loving and which we should avoid. Hint: Look carefully at the RFP questions – there lies the client’s problem!
  • Anne-Marie Colliander-Lind stressed out the importance of having a written social media strategy and showed us how far 100 euros can take you in social media marketing.
  • Henk Boxma presented an interesting case study regarding screenshot localization and described the solution he developed to generate one screenshot for all target languages simultaneously.

Last – but not least – the infamous Bull’s Eye session was definitely one of the best in this series. Manal Amin and Tea Diettrich created the ‘el clasico’; two totally contrasting in style presentations that attracted similar comments from panel and audience alike.

Commit has enjoyed the event thoroughly from start to end (including the wine which wasn’t actually ending) and is looking forward to be part of the next ND to be held in Lyon, April 16-17, 2015. See you all there!