It was 07:00 am on a cold autumn morning in Malaga. The plane to Copenhagen was heating the engines for taking off and I, the representative of Jensen Localization, was on board that plane.
After 3.5 hours of bumpy flying with plenty of turbulence, I reached Kastrup airport. My next objective was to get to the train station to reach Malmö, a small Swedish city right next to the mighty Baltic Sea opposite Copenhagen.
Tickets in the train station were only sold in machines; it was a premonition of what was lying ahead in this trip, the replacement of humans with machines. Science Fiction? A sad reality? Continue reading to find out what happens.
Two big guys asked all passengers for our IDs before entering the train platforms. The train arrived on time, and it speeded up while crossing the Øresund Bridge, an amazing piece of engineering. Once in Sweden, there was a border control. What for? I still do not know; we spent 25 minutes waiting for some controllers that never showed up.
Øresund Bridge, Øresund. Source: Wikipedia.
Before NTIF 2016
At Malmö central station the Sun was shining and however cold, I had some time to discover a bit the old town of this northern Venice.
Christmas decorations in Malmö old town
Optimistorkestern, the optimistic orchestra. It was erected in 1985 to celebrate the opening of the first pedestrian shopping street in Malmö.
That same night, I attended the NTIF 2016 welcome dinner, where I had the pleasure to meet very nice people from Sweden, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, and many other countries. We had a glass of champagne and some nice finger food while chatting. There were too many names to mention as there were more than 150 attendees, so it would be difficult to be fair to everyone.
With Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, one of the NTIF organizers.
After some tourism and socialising, it is time to start working
On the first day, the 24th November, there was a tight agenda that took us from all current issues and advances in the localization industry to periods of networking, eating, drinking coffee, and visiting booths.
The conferences made me think more about fuzzy matches. In the future, would it be possible to have standard rules for metrics? Would it be possible to use them globally? I believe that there is a real need for everyone in this business to make these metrics as consistent as possible, as we are currently forced to use the ones established by the big guys in this industry under their own rules.
What most of us already knew, or had a feeling about, was that online translation services might be the next step of evolution in our business. However, will they replace human project management? This is the reason why Translation.net and Matecat instant quote appeared on the market. Will they be successful? Time and customers will decide their fate.
And the day went by. The feared Machine Translation monster is growing, but we should not be afraid of losing our position in the translation process; all rule-based systems and the ones requiring coding will have to be reviewed by an IT specialist that would need to work closely with linguistic reviewers for the best results. The guys at Prompsit (the creators of Apertium, a free open-source machine translation platform) made some remarks about how dependent some organizations in Nordic countries were on these tools and highlighted the concern of Nordic institutions on the impact on Nordic students, who use them to cheat on their homework.
Cultural issues and the job of translators finally recognised
Around midday, I attended a very particular speech, which was not directly tackling translation issues, but culture issues. How do Nordic people look to outsiders? Michael Booth described each Nordic tribe from the perspective of a British man that married a Danish woman and moved to Denmark for love. Scandinavia may seem like the new utopia for many people around the globe, but it also has its downsides. Do you want to know what the similarities between Danish and Norwegian languages are? Have a look at this article on our blog.
A typical Dane, according to Michael Booth.
Because energy moves the planet and our fast developing society, we are happy to see initiatives like the one at one of Europe’s leading energy companies: DONG (for Danish Oil and Natural Gas). With around 6,500 employees, they are planning to increase the visibility of translators in corporate and government organizations. If you are a translator, it is time to say: Finally! Or Hurray!
Florian Faes from Slator updated us on the latest news on the translation industry: the rise of MT, the battle for TransPerfect, Lionbridge reorganization, and how SDL went back to the roots. He also talked about Who Went Where, as the localization industry is one with the highest employees mobility. I am well aware of it! Northern winds brought me back to the warm South, although houses are warmer in northern European countries, you know.
When we were approaching the end of the day, all of us held our hands together and sang Kum ba yah (not really, but it would have been nice) during the presentation about networking tactics by John Di Rico. He made us understand that united we prevail and that business cards should be exchanged with both hands in Japan. Remember this on your next business trip!
After a one-hour break, the time for the real deal arrived: the Dining and Dancing event sponsored by Moravia & Ciklopea, which was indeed a total success. I was surprised by the charisma of Moravia and Ciklopea representatives and amazed by the dancing skills of the participants; that would make any Latino dancer jealous! I suspect that not only Cecilia and Anne-Marie may have some Latin roots.
NTIF dinner with Swedish delicacies
Time to dance with some Swedish music!
Sales and marketing strategies for translation companies
The last day of the NTIF, 25th November, focused on conferences about emerging business opportunities and again the dichotomy between Machine and Men in translation. The needs to cope with new challenges in the industry: transparency, costs reduction, data control, and a sustainable business model. Very nice on paper, but difficult to achieve in reality.
In the morning, another beneficial and challenging factor that was discussed was the media growth of Facebook and Netflix and their constant struggle to increase video production, as well as subtitling, dubbing/voice over and graphic localization. Adding to this growing cake is the lack of banking rewards for big money savers that is pushing them to invest in growing industries, the translation industry being one of them.
Midday conferences focused on mergers and acquisitions, buy and to be bought. They brought to our awareness that company owners do not live forever, even if they want to, and that sooner or later a merging will even shock or benefit any LSP.
The last two conferences that I was able to attend were about the enormous impact of social media and browsing on our lives, and the importance of creating proper content to reach our target audience. Both of them made a convergence that the old sales method is in decay and that feelings, emotions, connection with your audience, quality and added value are key points in reaching your objectives.
It was a pity, but I could not stay until the very end of the event because I had a plane to catch in Copenhagen to be back in Spain. Luckily, I was able to follow the final part of the event via the Nordic Translation Industry Forum Facebook page.
We, at Jensen Localization, would like to suggest that the 2017 NTIF should be hosted in Fuengirola. Do you know why? Because it is one of the Andalusian cities most populated by Nordic people (according to the 2014 statistics, there were registered 4,500 Finnish, 1,750 Swedish, 1,200 Danish and 800 Norwegians). It is warm, beautiful, with a balanced combination of beach and mountains, you will feel at home!
If you were in the NTIF and I did not have the pleasure of meeting you or dancing with you, please feel free to write me or contact Jensen Localization for any question you may have or just to say hello and keep in touch.
Thank you, Cecilia Enbäck, Anne-Marie Colliander Lind and all NTIF participants for such a memorable event that already has a place in the translation landscape.