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Getting Started With Localization Automation: A Beginner's Guide

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Last Update: May 25, 2023

What you will get from this article:

  • Understand localization automation
  • Know the benefits of localization automation for business
  • Learn how to start localization automation
  • Know what to consider before implementing localization automation

Introduction:

This step you've taken will undoubtedly bring significant benefits to your role as a content creator or localization manager.

Say goodbye to the laborious task of copying and pasting information between spreadsheets, and bid farewell to the time-consuming manual updates of numerous files whenever changes occur.

With localization automation, you can embrace a more efficient and hassle-free workflow.

Automation technologies can assist you in achieving excellent outcomes at lower costs, as 62% of businesses believe that the content localization process is frequently overly manual.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with valuable insights into the world of localization automation.

You will learn what it entails, understand why it is indispensable for your work, and discover how to initiate the process using some of the most exceptional tools available.

By the time you reach the end of this guide, you will possess the necessary knowledge to automate localization tasks with ease, enabling you to reclaim precious hours of your day.

What Is Localization Automation?

Localization automation refers to using software and technology to speed up and streamline the process of adapting digital content for different languages and cultures.

Why should you care about localization automation?

For starters, it can save you a ton of time and money.

Automation tools allow you to reuse translations, quickly make changes, and scale your localization efforts.

For business, it’s essential as it can help to meet the company’s expectations and gather global customers.

Research shows that 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.

How does localization automation actually work? There are a few key technologies that make it possible:

  • Translation Memory: A database that stores segments of text and their translations.

When new content needs to be translated, the system looks for matches in the TM and reuses them. This avoids duplicating work that's already been done.

  • Machine Translation: Uses AI to automatically translate text from one language to another.

MT engines need to be trained on huge datasets to produce high-quality translations, but they can handle the bulk of the work, with humans reviewing and editing the output.

  • Translation Management Systems: Provide a central interface to manage localization projects.

TMS tools assist with tasks like file handling, terminology management, translator assignment, and project reporting.

They make collaboration and keeping track of a localization project's progress much more efficient.

  • CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) Tools: Help human translators work faster and more accurately.

Features like translation memory, terminology databases, and quality assurance checks support translators in their work.

CAT tools are used by most professional linguists and translation companies nowadays.

By leveraging technologies like these, localization automation streamlines the adaptation of content into different languages which results in a better experience for your international users and customers.

The Benefits of Localization Automation

Localization automation offers several benefits for businesses looking to expand their global reach. These include:

  1. Time and resource savings: Automating the localization process can significantly reduce the time and effort required to translate content, allowing businesses to allocate resources to other important tasks.

    A company that automates its website translation process can save weeks or even months of manual translation work, enabling them to launch its multilingual site more quickly.

  2. Improved quality and consistency: Localization automation tools can help maintain consistency in translations by using translation memory systems that store previously translated content and apply it to new translations.

    It can ensure that the product descriptions are translated consistently across multiple languages, reducing the risk of confusing or misleading customers.

  3. Scalability: Automation allows businesses to easily scale their localization efforts as they expand into new markets, without the need for significant increases in staff or resources.

    A business that automates its e-commerce platform translations can quickly add new languages and markets as they grow, without the need to hire additional translators or project managers.

Technologies Enabling Localization Automation

Translation Memory

Translation Memory (TM) is a database that stores segments of text and their translations.

As you translate new content, TM matches segments to those already translated, recycling translations when there’s an exact or fuzzy match.

This speeds up the translation process and ensures consistency. TM is a foundational tool for any localization workflow.

Machine Translation

Machine Translation (MT) uses AI to automatically translate content from one language to another.

While MT can be useful as a first draft, human translators are still needed to review and edit the output.

MT engines continue to improve over time based on corrections and can eventually produce high-quality translations, especially for repetitive content. MT is a key enabler of localization automation.

Computer-Assisted Translation

Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools like Trados and MemoQ integrate TM, MT and other features to help human translators work more efficiently.

CAT scans new content for matches in the TM and MT systems, and translators can easily review, edit or replace the suggested translations.

CAT tracks changes and updates the TM, creating a feedback loop to improve future suggestions. For companies managing large volumes of translation, CAT tools are essential.

Translation Management Systems

Translation Management Systems (TMS) are software platforms that centralize and automate the localization process.

TMS integrates with CAT tools and other technologies to automatically route content for translation, track jobs, and costs, and report on key metrics.

Leading TMS options include Smartling, Transifex, and Crowdin.

For enterprises, TMS provides visibility and control over complex localization programs with many languages, vendors and content types.

Using a combination of these technologies, localization automation can significantly reduce the time, cost and effort required to translate digital content into multiple languages.

While human linguists are still critical to the process, automation handles the repetitive and routine tasks, allowing translators to focus on the creative elements of adapting meaning and style.

With the rapid advancement of AI, localization automation will only become more sophisticated and integral to global content strategies.

Getting Started With Localization Automation

Getting started with localization automation is easier than you might think.

While the concept may seem complicated, the basic steps are quite straightforward.

By following these guidelines, you'll be up and running with your own localization automation workflow in no time.

Choose a Translation Management System (TMS)

A TMS is the software that will handle your localization automation.

Options like Smartling, Transifex, and Crowdin are popular, user-friendly choices for small to mid-sized teams.

These tools make it simple to implement localization automation by handling things like:

  • Connecting your systems and content sources
  • Sending content out for translation
  • Receiving translated content and importing it back into your systems

Determine Your Content Sources

Decide which systems contain the content you want to translate. This could include:

  • Your website CMS
  • Marketing automation platform
  • Help desk software
  • Product content management system

The TMS you choose will determine which content sources it can connect to. Select sources that contain a high volume of text that frequently needs translation.

Choose Your Translation Providers

Translation providers, like translators, translation companies, and machine translation engines, will handle the actual translation of your content. Many TMS options offer built-in integration with providers like Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, and various LSPs. You can also add your own freelance translators.

Build Your Automation Workflows

Workflows automate the steps required to get your content translated and published. A basic workflow might look like:

  1. New English content is created
  2. The TMS detects the new content and sends it for translation
  3. Translated content is returned and imported back to the source
  4. The translated content is published on your site or system

Start with a simple workflow, then make it increasingly complex over time as you scale your localization efforts. The key is simply getting started - you can always improve from there!

Key Considerations When Implementing Localization Automation

To successfully implement localization automation in your organization, consider the following tips:

  • Assess your localization needs: Identify the types of content that require localization and the languages you need to support.

This will help you determine the resources and tools required for automation.

  • Choose the right tools and technologies: There are numerous tools and technologies available for localization automation, including translation management systems (TMS), machine translation engines, and content management system (CMS) integrations.

Research and select the tools that best suit your needs and budget.

A company that primarily needs to translate website content may choose a CMS integration tool that automates the translation process directly within its website platform.

  • Learn from successful implementations: Look for case studies and examples of businesses that have successfully implemented localization automation.

These can provide valuable insights and lessons for your own implementation.

One of the leading localizers is the consumer products giant, VF has optimized its localization capabilities and managed to improve sales by 40% to 50%.

With the right tools and approach, localization automation can revolutionize the way you reach international customers.

But human translators will always play a key role in creating high-quality translations.

By combining automation and human translation, you can achieve the best of both worlds.

Conclusion

There you have it, a quick introduction to getting started with localization automation.

Now you have a good understanding of what it is, why it's important, and how to implement it for your business.

The advantages are tremendous, including improved efficiency, higher quality, and cost savings.

Don't worry if it seems overwhelming at first, because the resources and tools available today have made it easier than ever to get started.

All you need is the drive to enhance your localization process and an open mind to embrace a new way of working.

Take that initial leap and begin automating - your global customers will appreciate it, and your localization team will be thrilled.

The future is all about automation, so join the revolution!

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