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The second major component of the Smartling translation technology platform is the Global Delivery Network. This could be more aptly named “website localization on the fly”. The Smartling platform connects to your website and responds to requests for localized pages. When users send these requests, the platform is able to detect not only the language being requested, but also the location of the enduser. An appropriate page is served up via Smartling’s servers to the user in real time based on the pre-translated strings of text that you’ve had translated by professional linguists via the Smartling.com platform.
For those who’ve localized websites before, one of the major challenges is determining your target audience and coding the site to properly serve up content in the manner that the user expects. This means not only serving up the correct language, but also displaying the correct units of measurement, date format and type of currency. Depending on how your website has been built, this can sometimes be a significant challenge.
Instead, Smartling is designed to solve website localization issues by distributing content via their own Global Delivery Network. The platform not only serves up language and locale-appropriate content, it does it at high speed by using a datacenter that is local to the user. All of a sudden scalability issues that might have left an overseas user with a slow-loading website are solved!
Another major benefit of this model is that when content is updated on the source website, it is automatically updated on the Smartling network and analyzed for translated content. If content is not available, it can automatically push out translation requests to your predetermined language service provider (LSP) to have the content translated.
Smartling opens up a realm of possibilities for companies that have had projects that were previously considered impossible by language service providers. One example would be large projects that requires both fast turnaround and high quality. With the Smartling platform such a project could be pushed out to multiple LSPs and they could share a client’s glossaries and translation memories simultaneously. Another example would be a massive website or software localization project that is still undergoing development changes and review. Changes could be made by developers on the English site at the same time localization is being handled by LSPs.
One example of this kind of scalability issue being solved by Smartling was their work on the GoPro website. Smartling was able to localize the site into 6 languages in less than 3 weeks in order to meet a deadline for a new project launch.
Does the introduction of Smartling mean the end of the language service provider? The answer is a resounding NO. Instead, Smartling provides an excellent platform for localization and translation projects but still relies on expert translators and language service providers to ensure that the content going into the system is sourced via professional linguists. Although many of the management duties a language service provider would traditionally handle can be automated with the Smartling platform, the language service provider will continue to play a key role in helping clients make the right decisions about “resource selection.” This means determining the right kind of translation for your project (human translation, transcreation, machine translation, etc.) and selecting translators appropriate for your industry and budget. The LSPs that will thrive under the Smartling partnership will likely be those that provide the best service and help their clients make informed choices about buying translation in a completely transparent way.
Ultimately, we believe that the “vendor agnostic” experience that Smartling provides will be beneficial to the consumer. That said, if you’re already partnering with a language service provider, there shouldn’t be any discomfort in asking about the pricing model (for straight human translation this will almost always be priced per word). Nataly Kelly recommends staying within 10-20% of market price, so if you’re paying on the high end or aiming on the low end, it’s important to know what you may be paying extra or what you may be sacrificing for price.
The ownership of translation memory (TM) is another conversation that you should be having with your LSP. Regardless of whether you’re working with Smartling or not, you should have ownership of your translation memories, especially when working with an LSP. Typically, this TM can be exported to a format that can be loaded into any number of CAT tools (including Smartling).
In the end, we’re endorsing Smartling as an effective technology platform that can centralize translation and localization and automate the translation management experience for the buyer. Smartling’s content delivery network is also beneficial for those serving up web content overseas or those who have content that is frequently changing. We also love the fact that Smartling utilizes the same types of tools we use on a daily basis as a language service provider: glossaries, translation memory, pricing discounts for matching text and the standard translator/editor/reviewer model.
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