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Tilman Speidel, on the left, manages the Transline Project Management.

“Big Data” as an engine in the language industry

What role do “big data” and technologisation play in the translation industry – and specifically for one of the largest service providers in Germany? According to the results of the Slator Language Service Provider Index, Transline ranks third in Germany. But what does that mean for the daily business? We asked Tilman Speidel about it.

Tilman, you have been with us in project management for three years – first as head of a team, then as head of division since last year. What has changed since you joined Transline?

(Laughs.) Quite a lot! With the new TBlue management software, we have made our processes scalable. This not only helps to integrate new business areas, but also speeds up the processing of large amounts of data.

After all, in order to reach a global audience, our customers are now translating huge volumes of content, usually in a very short space of time, to stay ahead of the competition. Overnight translations or jobs that have to be completed over weekends are not uncommon. This is where automation comes into play – and TBlue Connect, our new API solution. As a result, our customers can order translations via an interface directly from their CMS, automatically and without the hassle of copy-pasting or export-import.

The keyword is “big data”. The worldwide data volume doubles approximately every two years – neural networks such as ChatGPT are likely to cause the numbers to skyrocket again in the coming years. In the age of globalisation, more data production on the customer side means more need for translation. Tilman, what does this mean for translation management?

Big Data is significantly driving the development of language technologies – with rapid advances not only in the areas of computer-assisted and machine translation, but also in speech recognition, computational linguistic quality testing and, last but not least, efficient collaboration, i.e. data exchange and knowledge management.

At Transline, we bundle all these partially AI-supported resources in our ERP system TBlue: Being an ordering platform, it offers our customers the possibility to set up all projects centrally, to commission them 24/7 and to manage them in a clear manner. TBlue is designed for big data – and with a structured onboarding, our project management makes it easy for newcomers to get started.

Our development department is constantly adding new functionality to the system, which is important for our customers. This includes innovative and customised solution concepts to integrate dynamic developments – for example in the field of machine translation and artificial intelligence – into the translation workflow in the best possible way.

This sounds very high-tech – do customers still need human translators and project managers at all?

More than ever! There is now more demand than ever for us project managers to act as consultants and solution finders in a dynamic and technologically demanding environment. For us, “One Team to the Customer” means that the customer always has a fixed contact person at their side who is also closely networked within the respective industry team. These teams – one example is the home appliances sector – include Transline experts from various departments, including translators, proofreaders, quality managers, computer linguists, DTP experts, developers and process consultants.

And human linguists are also as important as ever: in addition to classical translation, they are focusing on new fields, for instance post-editing machine-translated texts, or services such as transcreation. Stylistically demanding marketing messages cannot be translated into another language 1:1, but often need to be extensively rewritten. Such creatively demanding work cannot – as of today – be done by a machine.

How does Transline manage to be a consistently reliable partner for its customers?

Firstly, trust arises from expertise: Since the company was founded in 1986, Transline has been a pioneer in tool-supported translation management and has continuously invested in staff expertise, but also in IT and development. The team relies on a broad range of experience, so that we either routinely handle large projects or rethink processes to ensure that each project is as efficient as possible for the customer.

Secondly, we possess well-scalable resources and firmly defined and lived processes across all departments. This creates a reliability which, by the way, is also certified at Transline in accordance with the ISO 17100 translation standard and numerous other subject-specific standards.

Would you therefore say: “Size matters”?

Well, today we are a group with a total of seven locations and benefit from great synergy effects. For multimedia, we rely on our office in Modena. Our colleagues there can also look back on more than 35 years of experience. They support the branding strategy of global companies by adapting video and audio content to the respective languages and cultural areas. So when it comes to subtitling, dubbing and voiceover, they're our experts.

Similarly, we rely on our Walldorf software localisation team when our customers have an application or app to translate. And our colleagues at the specialist medical translation have already been established in the life science industry for 60 years, particularly in the pharmaceutical and medical sectors. The coordination of the expert teams goes on behind the scenes, unbeknownst to the customer – all that matters is that there is the right expert for every project.

I would say: Size is not the only thing that matters, it is above all about innovative spirit and customer orientation, about continuous development – always with one ear on the customer's heartbeat.

Are there any noticeable communication trends with your customer projects?

Most communication takes place through digital channels and requires our clients to localise web contentSEO keywords and e-commerce for audiences around the world.

In other areas, the proportion of digital content in our translation projects has also grown continuously, driven by changes in consumer behaviour since the pandemic, of course: we are also translating more and more multimedia content, including not only advertising clips, product and image films, but also explanatory videos, e-learning, webinars and tutorials, as well as apps and audio guides.

And what challenges are you facing in your field in the near future?

Translations from the field of voice assistance, voice control and intelligent networking come up again and again. We are currently looking at different language models, from which voice assistants, chatbots or smart home systems then emerge as features. The goal is to further expand our expertise – among other things with the help of cooperations – in order to offer corresponding solutions at an even higher level in the future. The whole thing is a very interesting field that makes our everyday translation work even more diverse and brings new challenges and opportunities.

Delivering the best results for every customer project – that is what drives us and what makes language management so exciting.

Always on the lookout for new challenges, we are looking forward to your project.

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Tilman Speidel, on the left, manages the Transline Project Management.

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