Does your marketing material speak your buyers’ language?

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by Dina Kessaniotou, Project Coordinator at Commit

This is a very good question for businesses wanting to expand their activities beyond their boundaries and go global. Even though English is a commonly used language in many markets, talking to people in a language they understand in depth seems to achieve much better results.

If we take a step back and consider the role of global marketing or the reasons why businesses want to expand in foreign markets, we will start to see the usefulness of the content adaptation to the language the audience understands best. Businesses want to become global for two basic reasons: increase their sales and boost their brand’s reach. The fastest road to increase sales is awareness – through an effectively localized marketing content, that will be global and local at the same time. Global because it will still convey the same consistent message of a business throughout the world and local because it will be customized in a way to reflect the experiences, the values and the culture of prospective local clients. The fundamental purpose of marketing is to penetrate the target audience and get closer to people. This can be achieved only through the language the audience understands best, as this language will become the means to draw their attention, make them want to learn more, and finally persuade them that the promoted product or service is what they really need.

Even if people tend to use English terminology in some industries, the whole communication still needs to be in the audience’s native language as this is the only way the message can resonate with them and touch their heart and mind – leading them to the decision-making process. The language that people understand is the one they will use to search content, read articles, or view a quick video ad from their devices during their free time – it is also the language in which they will share the information with their friends. It is more than obvious that this is the way for businesses to create a personal connection with consumers. The traditional patterns of the one-size marketing campaigns seem to progressively give way to more personalized and interactive approaches. Going even further, localization in marketing material can be the key for differentiation.

That said, we can easily assume that what we need here is not just translation but localization in its full meaning – adaptation, customization and creativity, taking into account differentiation. This is the field where localization can be really fruitful. Modern tools open the way to localization for videos, interactive content and anything that could create a one-to-multiple, but also personal relationship with people, anywhere in the world. Studies have shown that marketing globalization can bring a drastically improved return on marketing expenses.

At this point, it would worth mentioning the role of Machine Translation. It has become one of the main trends in the localization world and we cannot ignore the advantages it can bring in terms of costs and time efficiency. However, its use in marketing content has been greatly debated. If we consider, as mentioned above, that translation in the traditional meaning of the term would not be remotely enough, we can easily assume that marketing material wouldn’t be the ideal candidate for Machine Translation, where the different nuances of a language are usually left out of the whole process. And, most importantly, we would lose authenticity. Marketing localization is a process that can be developed exclusively between humans. The original message should be felt and conveyed to evoke the same feelings to other people. There is no machine that can feel and adapt content and create feelings from one culture to another. This is also a way for businesses to show that they really care for their audiences…

 

Price pressures, a viable business, happy customers – can you have it all?

by Vasso Pouli, CEO at Commit

The pressure for price reductions holds strong throughout markets and industries, both for products and services, for many years now and will continue to do so for many years to come. However, according to the law of supply and demand, a low supply and a high demand increases price, while the greater the supply and the lower the demand, the lower the price tends to fall.

For parties in the translation industry, it is common knowledge and a topic visited often in conferences that reliable, experienced and qualified translators and editors are not that many – no matter the language pair – and even if someone argues that they are, then usually it is their availability that is limited or they are lacking in specialization – always compared to the demand!

So, the first half of the law should apply here, right? The answer is “no”! Despite the very optimistic predictions for the growth of the industry, compared to the stability or even slump in other industries due to the recent financial crisis, the pressure for price reductions in the translation and localization industry is more than ever. Why is that? Maybe because translation is considered as an afterthought in the development of any given product, and often of so little visibility that it gets a tiny bit of the allocated budget, if any? Maybe because we, as professionals in the field, have not fought enough to elevate our ‘product’ to the place it should be in our buyers’ minds? Maybe because technology has taken its toll? Maybe because non-professionals have entered the profession offering ridiculously low rates for a respectively low-quality ‘product’? You can pick and choose, but I would not want to get into that.

Instead, let’s take this for granted and see how we can respond to that fact in a way that is respectful of our customers, our businesses and our resources, and still lead a viable business.

Let’s start by trying to understand our customers’ needs and educate them on our workflow and its importance for their end ‘product’.

There are certain steps a text must go through before a high-quality translation can be delivered. Of course, there is a reason for that and it’s not out of a whim that localization agencies favor the translation & editing process, nor because we want to add to our customers’ spend. Language is flexible. Language is subjective. Language is preferential. Language is also fixed and objective (i.e. industry terminology). Humans create language and they choose how to do it, and each individual may choose a different way, a different word, a different meaning… and all may be saying the same thing! So, yes, humans need to be involved in your translation projects, and the more they are involved, the better it is for you and your content, because the more chances there are that their translation gets closer to YOUR way, to YOUR word, to YOUR meaning. How much time, effort and energy have you put in and how many different people have you involved in the creation of your content, or even your ’slogan’? If you think about it, from enough to too much. So, if it was so challenging to settle on a phrase or to finalize your initial content, how can its translation be considered an easy task, especially when it involves many different markets and cultures?

Our advice would be that you should not try to save from compromising processes and eliminating steps (which correspond to people). Instead you should try to locate what you really need to translate and into which languages, evaluate and streamline your translation processes. If this is something new to you or you don’t know how to go about it, ask us; we can help.

And some more seasoned translation & localization services buyers might question the role of humans and ask where technology is in all that. Although, technology was late to enter our industry and help us benefit, there are quite a few tools that can facilitate our work, and the savings time-wise have been translated to real savings for the customers. Customers must always make sure that their language service provider reflects those savings from CAT tools in their invoice offering discounted rates for previously translated (fully or partially) content. Another new trend is machine translation (MT). It is undeniably a considerable advancement in our industry and will most probably play a huge role in how the future of localization will be shaped, but it does not have a universal application. It can serve as a first draft in some types of fixed-language texts, like manuals, to increase the speed and the performance of human translators, and free machine translation engines can be used to give you the gist of a text for your personal understanding; but, raw MT output is not ‘publishable’ text — at least not yet and not where the message matters. Ιt is merely usable in only some language pairs and in no case does it serve the broad spectrum of the languages of the world, it cannot cater for more creative content, and don’t think of only sophisticated marketing content, just try to machine translate your Facebook status update and see what the engine comes up with in various languages.

In every case, we need to invest in and make the most of all available tools and technologies, not only to save money for our customers but to also streamline and standardize our processes, facilitate our project managers and our linguists, monitor and report on our workflows, and lead a transparent and healthy business.

In terms of business practices, price reductions are usually pushed down to the lower levels of the supply chain, which can either be us as agencies or our external resources. In both cases though, this level involves the actual people who do the actual work, and these are indeed those of value to the customer. In the same way agencies recruit for expertise and knowledge, and train their in-house staff to new trends, tools and methodologies to optimize efficiency, the same investment should be considered for external collaborators. Individuals have invested both time and money to specialize and should be able to keep doing so if they are to continue to efficiently support us and, of course, our customers. Hence, although, regular flows and high volumes or long-term projects can of course justify a negotiation to a certain extent, crunching fees should not be adopted as a standard practice, as it is important that all parties involved in this transaction, be it the customer, the intermediary(ies) or the resources, feel that this is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Ultimately, I feel that the way we conduct our business will determine the quality of customers we attract; fair and reasonable practices will most probably attract fair and reasonable customers, and talent will gravitate towards places it can grow.

Change in Commit management

Commit, a leading language services provider announced today a change in their management team.

IMG_9466-3.00_00_00_00.Still003_After 20 years as the General Manager of the company, Spyros Konidaris will be stepping down from his position. Vasso Pouli, a long-time Commit employee, will be taking on the CEO role and responsibilities.

Spyros founded Commit in Athens Greece in 1997 and drove the company through 20 years of development and expansion. “It’s been a challenging and rewarding twenty years and it’s time that the baton is passed on to people with the energy and vision to drive the company to the next level. Vasso started out as a translation intern and has worked her way up through the Production and Operations departments. I am confident that she will be an excellent leader for the years to come.” Spyros will continue serving the company as Chief Strategist.

Vasso has been working for Commit for the past decade, going through the positions of linguist, Project Manager/Coordinator, and, since 2014, Operations Manager. “I am greatly honored for the selection and excited about the future. I feel I have some very big shoes to fill in, but I am very fortunate to be leading such an engaged and strong team. There is a ton of opportunities in today’s localization industry and lots to be achieved, and I am confident that with their support Commit will rise to the challenge.”

About Commit

Founded in 1997, Commit is a leading language services provider, headquartered in Athens, Greece, and with US operations based out of San Diego, California. The company offers a complete portfolio of services, including localization, translation, interpreting and consulting. Key strengths include experienced personnel, responsiveness and flexibility, competitive local market prices and commitment to high quality. Commit is ISO 9001 and 17100 certified.

www.commit-global.com

Technical writing: Your source content does have an impact on the quality of translation!

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by Nicola Kotoulia, Project Coordinator at Commit

When companies seeking to expand to foreign markets decide to use translation as an enabler of greater brand awareness and more sales, there is one thing that they should not overlook: What is their source content’s quality? And is it global-ready?

“Translation errors” are often a result of poorly written or unclear source text. How often don’t translators puzzle over the intended meaning of a sentence, on how to deal with inconsistent use of terminology, incorrect grammar structures, ambiguities, non-uniform style and other source related issues?

Often there is not the opportunity to obtain clarifications, and translators have to make an educated guess about the intended meaning or the desired approach relying on their research skills, professional experience and best judgment. And this could sometimes mean an incorrect translation or a target text that does not measure up.

When localization planning and timeframes allow for it, there can be multiple waves of questions and answers, with query resolution not always guaranteed. Especially for large scale projects, this can have a significant impact on cost, workflow, deadlines and product release.

Quality technical writing is a key factor in avoiding such situations. When creating your global market targeted material to be translated into several languages, there are some things you need to consider in order to ensure high translation quality, lower cost and faster speed.

After identifying your audience, defining your purpose, obtaining an in-depth knowledge of the material and organizing your thoughts, planning must focus on setting and using naming conventions for a consistent output. You can document these conventions, along with processes and terminology in the form of style guides and glossaries.

When it comes to the writing task itself, here is what you should keep in mind:

  • Time should be allowed for drafting, reviewing and editing.
  • The content should be translation friendly, meaning that the translator can get it right to the point. Clarity, brevity, simplicity and correct word choice for example, contribute to this point.
  • Prefer active voice for straight forward communication.
  • Define what may not be familiar (such as abbreviations, acronyms).
  • Avoid the use of jargon and idioms.
  • Make efficient use of words (eliminate redundancy, remove needless words).
  • Use consistent phrasing to say the same thing multiple times.

All these tips will make your content easier to translate, will speed-up the translation process and reduce editing rounds. Moreover, your original document will be accurate, precise and tightly-written, optimized for the domestic audience.

Moving on to the actual localization process and selecting the right partner is the next challenge. Choose wisely and trust your content to an experienced language services provider. They will use native, certified translators whose expertise matches your type of content, experienced project managers and industry-leading localization tools ensuring consistency, confidentiality and a high-quality output.

Does translation really make any difference to our lives?

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by Giannis Nistas, Linguist at Commit

Have you ever thought about the importance of language services? How translation and interpreting shape the world we live in as well as our everyday lives?

Well, let’s check some numbers first regarding the size of the translation and localization industry: According to Common Sense Advisory, in 2015 the global language services industry turnover totaled 40 billion USD–with Europe accounting for a market share of 53,09%, and North America and Asia covering 34,82% and 10,49% of the global market respectively. For 2019, the translation industry value worldwide is projected at 50 billion USD.

These are quite big numbers, so let’s shed some light on the role this industry plays in areas like international politics, global business, and our everyday life.

International Politics

Language services are crucial for day to day operations in international politics. You have interpreters facilitating communications in multilateral negotiations in international forums, discussing topics ranging from climate change and human rights to international trade and security.

Then, you have numerous language professionals working for intergovernmental organizations, like the United Nations. These can be copy preparers, editors, interpreters, reference assistants, terminologists, translators and verbatim reporters.

And if you consider a “place” where linguists play an absolutely decisive and vital role, that is the European Union. Being a supranational politico-economic organization of 28 member states, the EU is widely dependent on language services to maintain a close contact with its over 510 million citizens.

Since the EU is based on the multilingualism principle, all laws, treaties, secondary legislation, regulations and directives should be translated into the 24 official languages of its member states. For a democratic organization like the EU, language professionals serve the principle of transparency, promote the right to information and help reinforce many other democratic values.

Global Business

Most corporations with global presence have based their dominance in the global market on translation/localization strategies. In this context, they offer localized versions of their websites into numerous locales; they have developed dedicated online portals for their partner communities; they communicate with their distribution channel partners through translated material; they provide their channel partners with translated training content to help them get familiar with the features and capabilities of new products; they localize demand and lead generation campaigns to expand their pipeline.

But even in the case of small-scale corporations, it goes without saying that they have better chances of succeeding in foreign markets if they localize their marketing content, like their websites and their brochures. Another key to success for many companies is the localization of their product names. For example, many food companies end up having their product names localized, so that they do not sound awkward or offensive in different cultural contexts and locales.

However, when it comes to companies doing business in the pharmaceutical and medical device sector, the risk can be a lot greater than an embarrassing translation. For such companies, the translation of relevant documents, e.g. Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC), Product Information Leaflet (PIL), Instructions for Use (IFU) etc., is obligatory for regulatory approvals to be granted. Public health is an issue to be taken seriously, that is why the field of medical/pharmaceutical translation is the most regulated one.

From the above-mentioned examples, it is more than obvious that translation helps to ensure a smooth economic activity and contributes to positive business results.

Everyday life

To better understand how important language services are in our everyday lives, just think of the following examples:

  • Many patients need to use medical devices at home, like nebulizers to inhale medicinal drugs. What if they didn’t have localized instructions to instruct them how to use them?
  • How difficult would it be for someone to learn how to operate a home appliance or a personal computer without reading a manual in their mother tongue?
  • Clinical studies aiming to contribute to the improvement of medical treatments or to the establishment of new ones need volunteers. But who would accept to take part in such studies without first having fully understood the complications and risks, their rights and obligations before signing an informed consent document?
  • Asylum seekers need to be heard in their mother tongue, so what if there were no interpreters to facilitate communication? The same applies to medical interpreters who help patients communicate with doctors and nurses and, also help doctors understand the needs of foreign patients and choose the indicated treatment.

And the list goes on and on!

So, to answer the question in this article’s title, YES, translation really does have a strong impact to our lives. It gives us access to valuable information, it opens doors for global trading and helps international politics go around. Language services are everywhere and judging from the 2017 predictions, the demand is increasing at a fast pace. We’ll only have to wait and see what the future will bring for our industry!

A look back at your favorite posts from 2016!

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Now that 2016 has come to an end, we thought it would be a good idea to do a round-up of our most popular content from last year. So here it is:

The contribution of linguists in times of crisis

Refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, so many unfortunate crisis situations seem to have happened last year that affected everyone in our globalized world: civilians, governments, businesses. However, how often do we think of the importance of communication in times of crisis?

How glossaries improve the quality of your translations

This post explains exactly what a glossary is, what we should include in it and how and why we should create one.

10 tips on expanding your business globally

Are you considering taking your first steps in the global market, in an attempt to reach international audiences with your products or services? With the use of social media and the Internet, the world has become a much smaller place. Our society is globally connected and many people around the world can now access your products or services. But going global is no easy task! It requires time, effort and money. Read our 10 tips and make sure you’re on the right track.

ISO 17100: Ensuring quality translations for your business

This blog post explains exactly what the ISO 17100 standard is, what are its main differences from the EN 15038 standard and what are its added benefits.

Localizing mHealth apps: Do special regulatory terms and conditions apply?

As mHealth apps are changing the standards of healthcare services and open up new possibilities for patients and doctors alike through a constant evolution of innovative technologies and brilliant ideas, the regulatory standards and localization processes are called to take a step further and grow in tandem, putting the spotlight on the safety and accessibility of mHealth app users. In this post, we take a look at all the special regulatory terms and conditions that apply to the localization of mHealth apps.

What is machine translation and how can your business benefit from it

In this post, we take a deep dive into the world of machine translation explaining exactly what it is and how it can help businesses all around the world.

Crowdsourcing translation: Pro or Con?

An important advantage of the “connected world”, apart from the unlimited access to all kinds of information, is that it brought together previously “disconnected” people, groups or crowds – giving them the opportunity to become more active and engaged in the world around them. Read this post and learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of this method.

Crowdsourcing Translation: Pro or Con?

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by Dina Kessaniotou, Project Coordinator at Commit

An important advantage of the “connected world”, apart from the unlimited access to all kinds of information, is that it brought together previously “disconnected” people, groups or crowds – giving them the opportunity to become more active and engaged in the world around them.

The concept of “crowdsourcing”, meaning the involvement of non-specialists to tasks that were traditionally held by professionals, found a more fertile environment to evolve. Localization could not be an exception, being an already open-minded field by nature. The continuously increasing needs for localization make us want to sit back and reconsider the pros and cons of crowdsourcing. Let’s see some basic points:

What is considered as the main and obvious benefit of crowdsourcing is cost saving. People are much less compensated than professionals – or work for free.

Moreover, there is no doubt that crowdsourcing ensures more availability – it is much easier for a big community of people to achieve super-fast turnarounds than a restricted group of professionals working on a specific project.

Thanks to crowdsourcing, more languages are saved from oblivion because when it comes to minority languages it is not always possible to find professional support. The input of the crowd is extremely valuable at this case.

On the other hand, the value of professional services is undeniable. Not because a community of volunteers cannot provide good translations, but because of the possible lack of expertise and skills. If we think that even experienced linguists are not always qualified for all kinds of projects, we can easily imagine that it is even more difficult to find specialized people in a free community. And then the basic purpose of localization can be lost: we want to speak the language of our audience in order to approach them in a more direct way. But this cannot be achieved without high quality translations.

Going further, why should we expect from non-specialists who work for free to provide high quality translations and be responsible for the accuracy of their work? We would therefore need a specialized pool of reviewers in order to ensure the quality of the final translations. And we should always take consistency into account, which is one of the most important aspects of the content we provide. But how easy is it to keep consistency among people in a free community?

Another basic characteristic of crowdsourcing, is that it should be open to everybody, by definition. How easy would it be to handle the risks that this open model can incur?

It is obvious that a strong professional support is necessary for the coordination of crowdsourcing. Should we still think of crowdsourcing as a much cheaper solution for our localization needs?

All that being said, one would think that crowdsourcing has mainly disadvantages. This is not true. Because we haven’t still mentioned the most valuable benefit of crowdsourcing: the input of people. The feedback of our clients or the users of our products. In short, the “wisdom of the crowd”. This is the opportunity we have to listen to our audience and an alternative way to get their feedback. The more input we have (and this is a matter of statistics!), the more likely we are to end up with the best suggestion.

Summarizing the pros and cons of crowdsourcing, we could say that it can be a very fruitful process if put in place based on some standards. The ideal way to use it is in parallel with professional support and as a separate process. But we should be sure that we are able to mitigate the cons in order to benefit from the pros…

 

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!

Localizing mHealth Apps: Do special regulatory terms and conditions apply?

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by Nikoletta Kaponi, Project Manager at Commit

The rapid technological advances and the ever expanding use of mobile devices, from smartphones and tablets to wearables and wireless sensors, have not left the healthcare sector unaffected.

Mobile health (mHealth), which is defined as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices” by the EU Green Paper on mobile health, is expected to reach the equivalent of US$26 billion at a global level by 2017. With over 100,000 mHealth software apps currently available on the market, and their constantly growing popularity in developed and developing countries around the globe, mobile technology is changing the rules in the way healthcare professionals and patients interact.

The range of mHealth apps is broad and under constant expansion, including useful and valuable tools for both the individuals/patients and the medical staff: apps for vital sign measurement (e.g. blood pressure, heart rate, temperature etc.), blood glucose monitoring and diabetes management, photo-based skin lesion tracking or diagnosis, sensor-based medication compliance monitoring, diary-based pain management. These are just a few examples of how mobile device technology is contributing to the enhancement of healthcare services, allowing for a more evidence-based and patient-centric approach to healthcare, both of which have become more possible than ever via the use of mobile health apps.

While the possibilities for innovative healthcare apps and better healthcare services are ample, an important question arises regarding the reliability and safety of such apps in relation to their users. In answer to this question, the regulatory frameworks that apply to medical devices come to the foreground, setting down requirements and guidelines for the medical app developers and manufacturers to take into account and comply with.

In the US, the FDA has issued a guidance document for mobile medical applications, which are therein defined as “software applications that can be executed (run) on a mobile platform, or a web-based software application that is tailored to a mobile platform but is executed on a server” and which meet the definition of a “medical device” and are to be used:

– “as an accessory to a regulated medical device”, or

– “to transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device”.

Within the frame of this guidance, if the intended use of an mHealth app, as stated in the relevant labeling materials, “is for the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or is intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man”, then such an app is to be considered, and regulated, as a medical device.

While not all mHealth apps are medical devices, even for those that are, the FDA presents the option of “enforcement discretion” towards apps that pose a lower risk to their users, and intends to regulate more strictly those apps that could pose a higher risk to their users if they were “to not function as intended”. As part of this regulatory framework, the same classification requirements apply (Class I, Class II, and Class III), as with the “traditional” medical devices, in order to ensure users’ safety and their function as per the manufacturers’/developers’ intentions.

On the other side of the ocean, EU has laid out three directives for medical devices: one on Active Implantable Medical Devices (AIMDD), one on Medical Devices (MDD) and one on In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices (IVDMD). These directives are currently all in the process of being revised and are soon to be replaced by two regulations, one for medical devices and another for in vitro diagnostic (IVD) medical devices, following a proposal adopted by the European Commission in September 2012. According to this proposal:

“medical device means any instrument, apparatus, appliance, software, implant, reagent, material or other article, intended by the manufacturer to be used, alone or in combination, for human beings for one or more of the specific medical purposes of:

– diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease,

– diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury or disability,

– investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process or state,

– control or support of conception,

– disinfection or sterilisation of any of the above-mentioned products, and which does not achieve its principal intended action by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, in or on the human body, but which may be assisted in its function by such means.”

The European Guidelines on the qualification and classification of stand alone software used in healthcare within the regulatory framework of medical devices (MEDDEV 2.1/6) set out the criteria for “stand alone software” (i.e. software that is not integrated within a medical device) which qualifies as a medical device, therein referred to by means of the term “Software as a Medical Device (SaMD)” and further defined as a “software intended to be used for one or more medical purposes that performs these purposes without being part of a hardware medical device”. Apps that fall under the SaMD definition are required to receive a CE mark, same as with other medical devices, and are also subject to the EU medical device classification (Class I, Class IIa, Class IIb, and Class III), for safety and appropriate development and use to be ensured.

Apart from the need for certain mHealth apps to be regulated as medical devices, the manufacturers of such apps also face the need to make their products accessible to as many people as possible worldwide. With over 2.6 billion smartphone users across the globe, 87% of whom always carry their smartphone with them, the potential of introducing a new product in as many markets as possible is very alluring, but also challenging, given the language and culture diversity of the receiving markets.

Surveys have shown that people primarily prefer to download mobile apps in their own native tongue, i.e. the version localized for their own locale, and this preference should perhaps be re-iterated as a need of paramount importance in the case of mHealth apps, given the nature of their functions and the sensitivity of the data processed. But, apart from user-defined needs, specific localization requirements are also prescribed by the regulatory standards of each country, which determine what must be localized in the country’s official language(s) and what may not. Therefore, the localization step becomes a highly important part of mHealth app launches worldwide, in order to ensure not only an improved end-user experience, but also compliance as far as “apps regulated as medical devices” are concerned.

mHealth app localization specifics include the typical elements of medical translation, which focus upon accuracy, terminology consistency, subject matter expertise and optimal quality assurance processes, and also some more technical tasks. Such tasks are the functional testing of the localized app within the mobile operating system(s) (e.g. iOS, Android, etc.) for which it is designed, followed by the fixing of any identified bugs, and the linguistic review of the localized app, i.e. the review of the translated content within-context in order to ensure the correctness of the translations used and to check for any character corruptions or overflowing/truncated text or misplaced content. These tasks allow for a hands-on validation of the localized apps and aim at eliminating functional and linguistic issues which could reduce the usability of the apps, as well as the clarity and precision of their content.

As mHealth apps are changing the standards of healthcare services and open up new possibilities for patients and doctors alike through a constant evolution of innovative technologies and brilliant ideas, the regulatory standards and localization processes are called to take a step further and grow in tandem, putting the spotlight on the safety and accessibility of mHealth app users.

What is Machine Translation and how can your business benefit from it

googletranslate

by Eftychia Tsilikidou, Project Coordinator at Commit

A question we are often asked as Language Service Providers is whether we use Google Translate in our work. This comes as no surprise as Google Translate is the most popular and well-known Machine Translation engine and many users turn to it when they need to understand a text in a language they do not speak. However, using this automated translation engine, one can quickly understand that the quality of the output can vary. Sometimes it will seem to work fine, giving results that resemble a human translation and other times the output is not at all satisfactory. But why is this happening? How does Google Translate actually work?

First, let’s have a look on how Google Translate defines itself:

Google Translate is a free translation service that provides instant translations between dozens of different languages. It can translate words, sentences and web pages between any combination of our supported languages.

When Google Translate generates a translation, it looks for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents to help decide on the best translation for you.

In order to explain the above statement more clearly, think of any Machine Translation engine as a massive “pool” that keeps inside thousands of millions of documents in all sorts of language combinations. Parallel texts, translated by humans, are gathered from different online sources and stored into this “pool”. Whenever users enter text that needs to be translated into a language they do not understand, the machine, through various processes, searches for matching patterns from the texts it contains in the pool and brings up the most relevant results based on certain statistical models. The process of creating this pool of training data is called “machine translation education” and there are various technologies in place for this purpose, with Statistical Machine Translation Technology being the most common.

Now, when it comes to high-level professional translation, Machine Translation should be examined as a very useful tool. Translation is a very complex activity that involves analyzing, interpreting and synthesizing elements of text and transferring them via the same process into another language – an ability, computers definitely do not possess, at least for the time being, no matter how many complex models they process. This is the reason why translation agencies rely largely on human translators. On the other hand, the human brain has certain weaknesses as well, as it is unable to obey to many strict linguistic rules.

Given that there is no MT in place that could imitate the function of a human brain and its ability to analyze and synthesize data, and that even human work needs corrections and entails certain weaknesses, a combination of both human input and automated translation systems could lead to some very good results.

Contrary to the very general and vast content used in Google Translate, when Translation Companies choose to build Machine Translation Systems, they can customize them based on domain, language combination and even customer specific needs. The more specific the content entered into these MT systems, the better the results.

But how can Machine Translation help YOUR business?

Our digital and global era has tremendously increased the amount of ready-to-publish content that needs to be translated into various languages as soon as possible. There is a constant demand and pressure to reduce prices, to introduce new services more quickly and effectively, to maintain the highest levels of customer satisfaction at the optimal turnaround time, cost and quality.

Machine Translation systems can help companies facing those challenges, if they are implemented wisely and offered as a complete solution rather than just as a mere translation process. Taking into account that the MT systems can be customized to meet specific customer needs, and combined with Translation Memories and human input, the time for the translation of large volumes can be significantly reduced, leading, consequently, to reduced costs. Projects that would normally require months to be completed following the traditional human translation path, can now be completed within weeks or less with the implementation of an MT system.

Another circumstance to consider an MT system as a translation solution is when you are faced with a large volume of content and need to get a rough idea in order to decide which content to translate.

However, Machine Translation Systems cannot be used for all kind of texts and in every situation.

Content that involves translations of technical documentation, manuals, software interface, help content as well as automotive, mechanical, medical and legal documents are just some examples of texts with repetitive patterns, specific styles and certain rules, which can effectively train an MT system and subsequently be used for the translation of new content.

The main purpose of technology is to ease people’s life and raise its quality. Machine Translation cannot replace human translators, since language is live and constantly evolving. However, it can certainly aid the entire translation process and, if used wisely, can provide significant benefits for both translators and their customers.