The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) just celebrated its 20th anniversary as an organization that serves and supports the language services and technologies industry. As for us at Linearis, we’re turning 20 in just a few days and this was just the first time in our company’s 20-year history that we attended a GALA conference, and it was truly insightful and significant for the future of our business. We learned loads of valuable lessons that we’ll be implementing moving forward. Plus, it wasn’t just a milestone for Linearis – it was my first-ever gala experience, and it was amazing!
GALA 2023 was held in Dublin from March 13th-16th, bringing together 483 delegates from more than 50 countries around the globe. The conference had a strong focus on technology, business models, talent, and industry impact, and the program was fully packed with both industry and non-industry talents speaking about these topics. Here’s what I learned during my time in Dublin!
Our industry is constantly evolving, and it’s important for companies to keep up with the latest trends in talent management in order to stay competitive. While a background in language education has traditionally been the focus, as a takeaway from GALA I believe that the future of the industry will require subject matter experts who are also multilingual. These individuals may not necessarily come from traditional universities but can be found everywhere. We should zoom out and have a broader view of the talent and our needs. As well as we slowly move away from solely relying on translators and post editors, and towards generating multilingual content in all areas through LMMs, companies will need to adapt and change their approach. Copyeditors will likely become the new norm for vendors in the industry, and those who are able to attract and retain top talent will be the ones to succeed. As technology continues to evolve, it’s clear that having a talented and diverse team will be the most valuable asset for any company in the translation and localization industry.
The rapid advancement of technology is a topic that is often discussed and debated in the translation industry. For some time, I personally have been concerned that technological growth is developing faster than the industry can keep up with. There are so many directions where technology is evolving, and it’s not only hard to keep up with the knowledge but also the industry standards in general. This concern has been echoed by many industry experts during panels, special interest groups, and conversations in the exhibiting area.
However, despite the challenges, it’s also an exciting time to be in the industry, as we’re constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. As we continue to make strides in fields like artificial intelligence and machine learning, the potential for what we can achieve is seemingly limitless. For instance, one particularly interesting area to watch is the evolution of interpretation and machine interpretation. As we rely more heavily on machines, how we’ll control the quality of machine interpretation to avoid misinformation becomes more pressing. As machines continue to learn and interpret, we need to ensure that they’re doing so accurately and reliably. This is particularly important when it comes to areas like language translation, where even small errors in interpretation can have significant consequences.
There’s no doubt that we’re already seeing machines take over certain tasks that were previously done by humans. For example, with the advent of neural machine translation (NMT) and post-editing, the human part of the process has been relegated to just a small loop in the existing production and workflows. This shift has resulted in an increased demand for individuals with the skills and expertise to work with these new technologies effectively.
As we look to the future, it’s clear that those who can adapt and learn from the mistakes of the past will be the ones who thrive in this ever-evolving industry. Technology will continue to grow and evolve, and it’s up to us as an industry to keep pace with these changes. However, we also need to ensure that we’re using technology responsibly and ethically and that we’re always considering the potential consequences of our actions.
GALA conference has once again highlighted to me the impact of our work as language professionals, and the footprint we leave in the global world. It was an amazing opportunity to connect with old industry peers, as well as meet new ones, learn from each other, share experiences, and have some fun. As language professionals, we play an essential role in breaking down barriers and bringing people from different cultures and backgrounds together. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and forget the significance of what we do. That’s why events like the GALA conference are so important – they remind us of the impact we have on the world and the power of our work and knowledge. So let’s continue to network, connect, and make a positive impact on the world through our language expertise!
Looking into the future of the language industry, it’s clear that technology will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the landscape. As large language models (LLMs) become more accurate and fluent, they will likely be used increasingly in areas such as copywriting, content restructuring, summarizing, and other tasks that require a more natural language approach. While LLMs may be less accurate than traditional machine translation, their strengths in fluency and creativity make them valuable tools for businesses looking to improve their global content quality. As an industry, should we be worried about losing content to LMMs? I am confident in saying no. In fact, as more text and new content is created through LMMs, it means that there will be an increased need for translation. It’s a cyclical process where what goes around comes around.
As technology continues to evolve, businesses in the language industry will need to adapt and innovate to remain competitive. For boutique language service providers like us at Linearis, there may be a unique advantage in being able to experiment with new technology and approaches, without the constraints and risks faced by larger corporations.
”Translation is the hardest problem in AI but the main source of inspiration.”
Co-Founder and CEO of Translated
And for the fun part
Attending a conference can be a great opportunity to learn about new trends and network with people, but let’s be honest, the real fun happens during unofficial events. I was pleasantly surprised to learn not only about the latest industry developments but also about Irish culture. From traditional dances to sports like hurling and Gaelic football, I was fascinated by the richness of Irish heritage. And let’s not forget about the local bartenders who had always some wise words of advice to share. According to one Irish bartender, buying someone a drink is five times better than a handshake. Just imagine all the drinks you could have exchanged for a handshake during the conference! And when it comes to ordering drinks in Ireland, it’s always best to start with a Guinness. Trust me, it’ll save you from a potentially ugly situation at the bar. So, the next time you attend a conference, don’t forget to embrace the unofficial events and learn a thing or two about the local culture. Who knows, you might just discover a new favorite drink or dance move along the way and also make valuable connections that could lead to partnerships that last a lifetime.
If you had the chance to attend a recent GALA, what were your biggest takeaways? What new insights did you gain, and how will you apply them to your personal or professional life? I’d love to hear from you and continue the conversation. And while we may be sad that we didn’t get the chance to meet everyone at the GALA, let’s not stop us from connecting and staying in touch. Whether through social media or other means, let’s continue to support and learn from each other as we navigate through these challenging times.
Head of Business Development at Linearis