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Recent blog posts
ATC Certification awards first MTPE standard certificates

The ATC’s ISO Certification Service has awarded TranslateMedia and Sandberg Translation Partners (STP) certification to machine translation post-editing standard ISO 18587. TranslateMedia and STP are the first two UK-based language service providers to be certified to the standard and the ATC Certification Service is one of the first certification bodies in the world to include it as part of its service offering – a double celebration if ever there was one!

TranslateMedia went all the way with an ATC triple certification, adding ISO 17100 translation services standard and ISO 9001 quality management standard to their portfolio at the same time as the MTPE standard ISO 18587, which supports their recent development and investment in a neural machine translation solution

ISO 18587 provides requirements for full post-editing of machine translation output and defines the competencies of post-editors, adding to and closing the gap on MTPE left in ISO 17100. Following the standard’s publication in 2017, the ATC ISO Certification service is delighted to be one of the first certification bodies to include ISO 18587 in its service offering.

TranslateMedia’s Operations Director, Matt Train, says, “We were very happy to find out that the ATC would be offering auditing services for language service providers. Certifications are important for our clients, and help us to both win and keep business by operating processes that consistently deliver quality. Working with auditors from the ATC, who already knew our business context in detail, meant that TranslateMedia received a great deal more value from the audit process than we had previously expected was possible.

Matt went on to add: “We were also delighted to learn about the new post-editing of machine translation output standard from the ATC, and very happy that they could provide the auditing service for that standard as well as 9001 and 17100. We would like to say a huge thanks to everyone involved at the ATC for offering this valuable service to the industry.”.

STP’s founder and Executive Chairman, Jesper Sandberg, welcomed the certification and said that ISO 18587 was a sign that the industry was embracing an increasingly technical future.

“STP’s journey with machine translation started in 2010 when we recognised that technology would become synonymous with the professional translation industry.

“Since then, we have worked hard to make our company a genuine adopter in the field of MT and MTPE, and our investments in technical capacity and human skills attest to that. This milestone is recognition that all the challenging work has been worth it. I am extremely proud of the team at STP who have made this possible,” he said.

The ATC’s ISO Certification Service currently offers certification and audit from qualified language service provider auditors for Quality Management Standard ISO 9001:2015, Translation Services Standard ISO 17100:2015 and Machine Translation Post Editing Standard ISO 18587:2017.

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The Demand for Farsi Translations is About to Go Boom! Are you Ready?

Anyone who knows anything about the translation industry understands the connection between global events and the demand for certain languages.

Over the past few decades we’ve seen massive spikes in the need for languages such as Serbo-Croat, Dari, Arabic, Chinese and numerous others depending on what takes place at political, economic and social levels in the world.

For those LSPs and translation agencies who can foresee and get ready for these occasional surges, it can mean good things whether financial or expansion-wise. So, I want to draw your attention to Iran and the language of Farsi, as I believe demand in the coming months and years is about to explode.

“Iran?” Yes, I hear you. But hear me out first.

We need to remember that Iran has essentially been shunned by the international political community since 1979. As a result, it has also been shunned by global brands and a lot access to global business. It’s had to deal with a long war with one of its neighbours and then various economic sanctions.

It has essentially been in a state of imposed semi-isolation for nearly 40 years. Despite this, Iran is still the second largest economy in the region behind Saudi Arabia, which may say something about where Iran could be once it can join the global party again.

Back in business

At present, it appears, with thanks to the European negotiators, that Iran is slowly being allowed to welcome in foreign investors as well as export their goods and services to more of the world. The JCPOA, otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, has resulted in the lifting of all EU nuclear-related sanctions and the suspension of US secondary sanctions.

So, it appears Iran is open for business…and they are very hungry for business. The country sits on the world’s largest reserves of natural gas. Its oil, gas and petrochemical sectors are set for massive expansion. Its transport and infrastructure are being heavily invested in, with projects in excess of 25 billion Euros currently in process. In renewables, environmental solutions, energy, water and waste management the country is looking for foreign investment. With its economy being forced into self-production to survive sanctions, Iran has developed a large manufacturing base producing high quality goods which they now hope to sell to the world. Consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and B2C services are all set to massively expand as Iran seeks to quench domestic demand.

Putting it simply – business in Iran and out of Iran is going upwards and upwards. As a result, the demand for Farsi is going to follow. If you want to get your slice of the Persian pie, you need to start getting ready now. Whether that means bringing in new Farsi translators or partnering up with a translation agency in Tehran (of which there are dozens), now is the time to start getting your resources ready and educating your team on the ins and outs of the language.

The Challenge of Farsi

Farsi translation is not challenging in itself. Where LSPs and translation agencies will really show their clients true value, is being able to guide them through the very complex requirements around official translations, approved formatting, cultural nuances, protocols and politics where those translations may be required or used in Iran.

Take my advice, look at Farsi. You will thank me in a few years’ time.

Neil Payne owned a translation agency for 10+ years before moving into training where he now runs Commisceo Global, which specialises in cross-cultural training courses, as well as another training company, Accensus, which serves the translation industry.

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People Skills Key to Securing Scale Up Investments

Potentially looking for investors to help your LSP or translation business take a leap to the next level?

Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency responsible for driving productivity and growth in the economy, has just released a report that makes for insightful reading as to what potential investors are looking for.

Scaling up: the investor perspective’ is the result of research commissioned by Innovate UK and carried out by market research company, Ebiquity.

Ebiquity asked leading British business leaders what they believed to be the characteristics of fast-growth investable UK businesses and the challenges such businesses faced in securing investment for scaling up.

The results highlight disparities between the views of investors and business owners as to what they each believed to be important in such opportunities.

For example, the report reveals that investors often see growth very differently from
businesses owners who are wanting to scale up. Investors are more likely to think in terms of multiples whereas the businesses themselves often think incrementally.

Soft Skills Matter

As well as gaps between investors and businesses, the report also identifies key attributes needed for them to work together.

Interestingly one area that businesses seemed to consistently undervalue was the importance investors place on ‘soft skills’, such as communication, problem solving and team work.

Drive and passion were deemed the important attributes for business leaders, alongside resilience and adaptability which are considered essential in dealing with the topsy-turvy nature of business.
The importance placed on people skills is also reflected in the reasons for investments falling through; the top shortfalls for investors being:

1. communication
2. adaptability
3. resilience
4. chemistry
5. cultural fit

In all cases businesses or business owners underestimate their significance in attracting and securing investment.

The report explains the emphasis on such soft skills, as opposed to technical know-how, as being due to investors’ desire to work with people they can get on with, trust and that can handle the complexities of working in an evolving marketplace.

International Investors Keen on British Scale Ups

For British LSPs and translation agencies looking for investors, there is good news. According to the report, the UK is a favoured hunting ground for foreign investors looking for scale up opportunities.

The advanced innovation ecosystem and a perceived superior management quality are cited as the two main reasons why international investors are keen on British companies. A sound management team with leadership skills was considered the most important factor in guaranteeing scale up success.

With investors currently looking for proprietary technology in artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), data analytics and machine learning, the translation & localization industry sits in very close proximity to this attractive and active part of the UK economy.

In fact, 73% of investors cited the ability to trade, do business and expand globally as one of the main reasons for investing in a scale up. This makes translation and localization companies doubly-investable as, not only do they offer future growth in themselves, but they are also vital in creating growth for others through their very much in-demand services. 

People Power

So, for those looking at future growth and expansion plans, investors are out there, and the industry is ideally positioned.

However, as the report clearly illustrates, it’s important not to get hung up on business plans, projects and profits when it comes to enticing an investor, for them it’s very much your people that will give you power.


Neil Payne started his career as an English teacher in the Middle East before becoming a freelance Turkish translator. Realising he preferred translation management to translation itself, he set up a successful translation agency which he had for 12 years. He now runs Accensus, a niche training company for the translation & localisation industry, and occasionally finds time to watch Crystal Palace...mainly lose.

Image from Flickr.

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Connectivity: 4 ways LSPs can help their customers overcome the quality challenge

In our most recent industry research, we explored the current and future challenges faced by global organizations related to their management of translation.

As an overriding trend, it is no surprise to see that quality of translations is the dominating concern of most people and how it can be maintained at scale with increasing demand. With over 500 respondents we received feedback from those involved in content generation and localization of content from public and private companies across Europe, Asia Pacific, North America and other regions.

89% of those surveyed agree that translation quality is much more important than cost

What is interesting is that the research, although casting a spotlight on corporations, uncovers a host of opportunities for LSPs to help their clients address the quality challenge.

With increasing content, organizations are finding it harder and harder to address the task of maintaining quality at scale. According to our research, maintaining quality is the top challenge for companies now, and they also anticipate it being the top challenge 5 years from now.

So where exactly can the LSPs help? It may seem obvious: as a service provider, you are there to take on the translation work that companies are unable to handle. 89% of our research participants already outsource work, of which 30% expect to send increasing amounts to LSPs over the next couple of years.

But of course, it’s not as simple as that. Corporations want to be confident that the quality they seek from in-house translations can also be maintained by working with external partners, and working with new people means new processes which can take time and patience to get used to.

Overcoming the challenge

To meet the large-scale demand for translations whilst maintaining high quality, we think that connections matter. The connections between the individuals working together, between the systems and processes of two companies, between humans and technology.

Collaboration is key, and here are four ways that LSPs can work with their customers to achieve their common goals:

1. Build trust to confidently share resources

40% of those outsourcing translation work are not sharing their resources (translation memories, terminology databases etc.) with those they outsource to, a scenario which most likely has a negative effect on the quality of the translations and increases time spent on reviewing and editing. This is often likely due to concerns about security, so it is vital that the relationship between client and the LSP should be seen as a partnership to build that trust level.

We know that LSPs are generally used to working with different clients and being flexible according to the needs of each one, so the next step is to develop stronger connections with each customer and understand their expectations relating to quality.

2. Manage consistency and quality effectively

Terminology is hugely important for most corporate companies and needs to be kept consistent; 57% of those surveyed are already using terminology management tools. However, there is still an opportunity as an LSP to provide additional guidance to their clients on the importance of sharing the terminology resources that have already been created, ensuring that you and your customers are agreed on how terminology should be managed for each project.

The sharing of terminology and other assets needs to be facilitated by the workflows put in place between the two partners, so that each person working on a project can benefit from the relevant resources. It is also advisable to spend some time working together to define how the quality of the translations will be assessed. A surprisingly large percentage (53%) of companies don’t have a formalized process for this, so perhaps some collaboration or even advice on how to handle this stage of the translation process would be beneficial to them.

3. Embrace technology for greater collaboration

Our research revealed that 94% agree that translation technology is vital to meeting the high demand for translations and clearly the industry is already using more technology than ever. Integrations that enable different systems to work together to the self-learning adaptive machine translation engines learning from an individual translator’s post-edits are already being embraced, but for corporations, maintaining quality in the face of increasing demand is not just about individual translation productivity, but as much about ensuring consistency across projects, translators, and the wider business.

Interestingly only 51% of those Corporates who took part in our research are using collaboration tools to share assets that could improve this consistency. Conversely as an LSP, project management tools that allow greater collaboration and automation to free up your project manager's time from everyday admin so they can spend more time talking with clients are essential.

Thus LSPs and their clients should discuss the different types of technology that can enable efficient, productive ways of working together and look for new solutions for problems that are no longer being solved by current technology.

4. Keep up the communication

Finally, don’t stop talking to each other. Build your connections, define your processes and try to work with each customer as one large team rather than two different teams, so that any issues can be resolved quickly. It always comes back to connections: to achieve the highest standards in what we do, we need to know how to work together. Achieving high-quality output is more than just each individual’s input; each part of the process needs to fit together so that the sum is greater than its parts.

Download research results >>




Anya Deane


Anya started out in the translation industry as a project manager for a translation agency and is now Product Marketing Executive at SDL.

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What makes a good working relationship?

In this blog, Mark Cheetham, COO of a Swiss translation agency called SwissGlobal Language Services AG and Marie-Odile Domzalski, a freelance translator that specialises in working for the Swiss market, discuss how they work together and what makes a successful business relationship. Fiona Merwood, Senior Marketing Executive from SDL, asks the questions.

If you’re an LSP interested in more content to help improve your business, take a look at our ‘Let’s Talk Business’ hub. 

FIONA: How long have you been working together?

MARIE-ODILE: Five years now. It was kind of a birthday yesterday! We started to work together in March 2012.

MARK: We both started off, in fact, as trainees at a former employer.

FIONA: Have you got examples of when you have to work together to overcome a challenge?

MARK: Oh, yes! I think that’s one of the reasons why we have such a good working relationship.

MARIE-ODILE: I think we’re thinking about the same client! Many years in a row, we had this annual report to translate for a very demanding client, and I remember that I spoke to Mark a few times a day about this project. How do you recall it, Mark?

MARK: Yes, exactly. It was an annual report that came every year; it was a demanding project for us, as we had to coordinate a large amount of work across many languages and tight deadlines. You’ve got multiple parties, problems with terminology and consistency, the agency doing the graphics, external providers and the various departments that have to go over the translations to make sure the financials add up in the end.

Marie-Odile worked on the translation into French and if I remember correctly did some proofreading of other French translations. It wasn’t just the work she was doing for us that was great, it also was her flexibility and creativity when we had to shorten certain paragraphs, for example, because it was too long and the layout didn’t fit anymore. So, she was extremely flexible and responsive in those terms.

However, what I felt was the most helpful in overcoming these challenges was just to have someone to speak to. You know, sometimes it’s almost more important to have a shoulder to cry on! It’s definitely a team effort and the team spirit that helps you to get work done.

MARIE-ODILE: For me, it was really important that I knew Mark was there for me because it was pretty hard on both sides. I think the most beautiful gift was that the client was happy in the end. It was teamwork and it was great.

FIONA: Tell us more about this project and how it worked…

MARK: There was another aspect. I think if you’ve got those kinds of challenges, you also have to use all the possibilities of modern technology that you have to hand. So, it could be that you have to retranslate something whilst you’re translating; then you’ve got your TMs which you can then use and you have to attach them to a new project so you don’t have to retranslate everything again. At SwissGlobal we, for example, use SDL Trados GroupShare and with GroupShare you can easily split up your documents, so you can then have multiple translators working on a file, and they’ve got the same resources in the background. And obviously, there’s other technology out there which can help.

FIONA: What do you need to help maintain a good working relationship?

MARIE-ODILE: I would say transparency is very important. If the PM is under stress, I appreciate it when the PM tells me. Respect – respect is also very important. I would say mostly no fake communication; real communication, a real relationship, as we’re dealing with humans.

MARK: I’ve got similar points. I’m entirely pro-transparency. I can’t trust or respect a translator who’s not transparent. For example, issues concerning the text, or perhaps, an issue with the timeframe, they need to contact me, the earlier the better. If they don’t do that and just disrespect the deadline without mentioning anything, it’s difficult for me to trust this external provider in the future. So, it’s like you said “fake communication” is a no go; I would say honest communication is a “must have” condition for any good relationship.

I would also say that it’s important you realize that there are real people involved in the whole translation process. In every relationship, it’s communication that counts the most. You have to respect that perhaps they’re under stress; they’re having a good day or a bad day. I think that’s the best way to go forward; in the end you just treat them like human beings and also treat them like you would like to be treated.

MARIE-ODILE: Yes, exactly.

FIONA: The agencies that you work for or with, do you feel part of the team?

MARIE-ODILE: Unfortunately, not in every translation agency, but in most of them, as I’m rather looking for long-term relationships. And with the ones I’ve been working for, for many years, I really feel part of the team; maybe not as if I were in-house, but almost. We say good morning every day; when I ask for a job, I say, “Oh, how was your weekend?” So, yes, I would say I do.

FIONA: When you receive a project how much do you ask for more information for clarification, versus making decisions to get things done quickly?

MARIE-ODILE: I would say that I am the kind of translator asking questions. When I’m not sure of something or if something is not clear also in the subtext, I prefer to ask rather than translating or understanding something wrong.

Also, if an instruction is not clear, I’d rather ask than having to correct everything in the end. I don’t want the PM to have extra work because of me.

FIONA: Is there anything else you’d like to add from the point of view of successful business relationships? For example using different tools, is that important?

MARK: Totally. Nowadays it’s crucial. I mean, if you only have private clients, it’s no problem; you don’t need to use a CAT tool. But if you’ve only got corporate clients like SwissGlobal has, with huge translation memories (TM) and termbases (TB) in the background, with high expectations, you have to be consistent. If you want to deliver the quality the client is demanding and paying for, you simply have to use the technology available.

Generally, I think there was a huge shift a couple of years ago – I would say perhaps five, six years ago, I’m not sure – where originally a lot of translators, said, “No, I’ll never ever use a CAT tool. My brain is the best central database for TM/TB.” Those people have then come to realize that there’s a huge upside from the productivity and quality aspect and there is no need to be defensive towards the use of CAT tools. All the more since client expectations have grown considerably.

With a CAT tool, you can simply translate more to a higher and more consistent quality. I never quite understood why some translators didn’t embrace technology. They were afraid of the price falling, because they obviously have this whole context and perfect match discussions with PMs and vendor managers. But it’s also a huge advantage in productivity and quality terms.

It goes further. In CAT tools, you’ve got for instance the possibility to integrate InDesign or other XML formats without having to have the actual software. If you can translate within InDesign and the whole DTP (desktop publishing) work afterwards is a piece of cake. I firmly believe a good translator should be good with technology, because nowadays, it’s really the backbone of every translator.

MARIE-ODILE: Well, I see the future, as you say, using CAT tools. For me, it’s compulsory; you have to know those kinds of things. If you want to survive in this field and make the difference, you need to adapt.

Thanks to Mark and Marie-Odile for taking the time to take part in this interview and for sharing their experiences with us.

Discover more content like this with our ‘Let’s Talk Business’ hub, an area for LSPs to find helpful business advice and tips. Click here to find out more.



Fiona Merwood


Fiona Merwood is a Senior Marketing Executive at SDL in the UK. She is a working single mum and when not learning about the technology she enjoys travelling, practices yoga and makes good fudge.

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ISO 18587 on MT post-editing gaining traction

Newly published ISO standard 18587, on post-editing machine translation, is already attracting interest among LSPs and clients alike.

Within a couple of weeks of the standard’s publication, the ATC received enquiries from LSPs as far away as the US, a fact not lost on ATC’s lead on standards, Raisa McNab.

‘’It seems that clients are also already aware of it, which just goes to show how much of an impact machine translation has within the translation industry today, and how welcome an ISO standard on MT post-editing is to many,” she said.

ISO 18587 regulates the post-editing of content processed by machine translation systems and establishes competences and qualifications that post-editors must have. The standard is intended for use by post-editors, translation service providers and their clients.

Livia Florensa, CEO of Barcelona-based translation company, CPSL, was the original architect of 18587. As the standard’s ISO Project Leader at ISO, she was also responsible for coordinating its development, aided by comments from ISO member countries including the ATC’s ISO standards Commenting Group, lead by the Association’s ISO expert Chris Cox.

“It was necessary to create a specific standard for post-editing because it was explicitly left out of the ISO 17100, which provides requirements for translation services, but it was a complicated process, taking four years to reach the stage of final publication,” Livia explained.

Commenting on the standard in its different development stages via the UK’s ISO representation, Livia, who will remain on ISO’s Technical Committee as an expert member working on the standards relating to translation and interpreting, said;

“It’s been a long but interesting process and it has been extremely rewarding to tackle the issue of finding the best process to follow during post-editing, to ensure quality translations that meet the client’s expectations. At the same time, it has allowed me the opportunity to foster the creation of a standard that affects our industry.”

ATC’s Raisa McNab said it was still early days for the 18587, but given the traction it’s gaining, it would be incorporated into the service offering of the ATC’s new ISO certification service being launched at the Language Industry Summit in London, 21-22 September.

‘’We will be offering certification services to ISO 9001 and the translation industry standard ISO 17100, but as there won’t be very many certification bodies offering auditing and certification to ISO 18587, we are very keen on introducing 18587 into the mix as soon as possible,” she said.

Get the standard here.

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Customer Journey Mapping for LSPs: An Essential with Bags of Potential

In a crowded marketplace, LSPs and translation agencies can struggle to create a USP that will generate leads, convert sales and help the brand evolve.

Adopting a customer-centric approach for your business can offer invaluable insights into your customers, helping to highlight your USP and securing future growth.

Understanding how a customer interacts with your company, the brand, staff, newsletters, etc and how they feel about it, every step of the way, is something taught by proponents of the Customer Experience school of thought (or CX as its more commonly known).

Through examining every possible and potential interaction with a customer, (whether new or established), CX teaches proactivity in trying to connect with people on an emotional level, to organically drive their decision to buy with you. It is an approach very much favoured by some of the big players in the world of commerce including Adobe, who believe it is helping them stay relevant and prepared for the future.

Not every LSP of course is able to adopt a CX approach similar to the likes of Adobe due to obvious factors such as lack of time, knowledge and/or resources. However, one thing that every single LSP should try to do is Customer Journey Mapping (CJM).

CJM is a powerful tool with the potential to transform your business.

Customer Journey Mapping. How Does It Work?

In essence, CJM is a team exercise, a tool and a visual aid that illustrates and captures each and every ‘touchpoint’ a customer has with your company.

It brings a team and all stakeholders together in one place to cover what, where, how, why and when customers come into touch with the company. What do they do at each point? What are their motivations, reservations and options at each point? What are the range of possible emotions and where are the gaps that exist in the current journey or experience? This helps identify opportunities to improve that experience, improve certain touchpoints or innovate functions.

Working as a company to explore your customers’ journeys helps you take a step back, assess what you are doing in a joined-up manner and address opportunities across all functions. 

There are different ways and formats when it comes to running a CJM workshop or exercise. There is plenty of guidance available online; however a lot of it is very basic and offers only simple tips.  Save yourself the time and start with the CX Toolkit from Oracle which also comes with free materials and instructions on how to run your own workshop [which of course you can adapt].

What’s Essential in Customer Journey Mapping?

Firstly, identify what you are hoping to accomplish. Are you looking to fix current issues and challenges within the business? Or are you looking to embellish and improve upon them? Identify a gap in the translation market? Or fixing a block in your sales pipeline?

Secondly, make sure everyone in the company is involved – no matter how little you believe the impact of their role to be. Even employees behind the scenes impact the customers’ journey. Bringing everyone together is good for teamwork, morale and illustrating to certain parts of the company how they impact the customer experience.

Thirdly, be specific when examining a journey. If you sell more than one product, don’t try and approach all of them in one go. It is important to look at each service or department or product in its own light. Your customers will surely have differing needs, no matter how slight, which should be identified and capitalised upon.

Fourthly, decide on certain customer types you want to explore. Are they new customers? Old clients? Are you hoping to win some back? Consider focusing on your top 20 or so clients initially before broadening the scope as this will really solidify a shared understanding of your company’s USP, goals and values.

Fifthly, validate your findings. Remember it is going to be hard to think like the customer so many of your conclusions may be based on assumptions. Involving clients and having their input will really help avoid making poor decisions based on limited points of view.

What’s the Potential of Customer Journey Mapping?

In terms of the potential offer by CJM, there are many benefits it has to offer, from improving intra-team communication to shaping marketing campaigns. Each company will experience different benefits dependent on their intentions.

Here are some of the key benefits most experience:

New Ideas

Exploring and understanding your customers, their experiences, feelings and motivations will help generate new ideas about your brand, services or products. Getting everyone together to talk about creating the best experience possible for your customers will lead to innovation across the board in terms of how to present the company, engage with clients and improve services.

Streamlined Procedures

If anything comes from CJM at the very least it is helping to identify snags and issues for your customers in terms of the procedures they have to go through to get a translation. From filling in forms on your website, to receiving quotes, to how they get their translations, all are scrutinised in one process as opposed to independently which helps identify where and how to save time, reduce burdens or simply make it a better experience.

Customer Loyalty

Providing a great customer experience organically results in customer loyalty and longer-term relationships. Think about the tea or coffee brand you always drink – why? There is something about that experience that takes you back again and again. Through CJM you learn how to make happy customers who will want to stay loyal to your brand.


Neil Payne started his career as an English teacher in the Middle East before attempting and failing to become a freelance Turkish to English translator. The failure led to him setting up a successful translation agency which he ran for 12 years before leaving the industry. He now runs a cross-cultural training company and spends far too much time in the greenhouse.

Image from Flickr.

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The Chinese LSP market is thriving. As the country continues to open its doors to more international trade and its economy continues to grow, the demand for language services increases. It’s an imperfect but exciting market not to be neglected, writes Kain Jagger, Sales and Marketing, Lan-Bridge.

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ELIA Together 2017: Community, collaboration, communication

There’s a longstanding myth that translators are solitary creatures by nature, preferring to spend their days burrowed away in their little home offices rather than joining the horde. After all, if we weren’t reclusive introverts, wouldn’t we all have opted for the exciting world of interpreting instead? Well, with a vast tapestry of attendees from 38 countries across the globe, all keen to share their own perspectives on the profession, this year’s ELIA conference showed that solitude, far from being a motivation for translators’ career choice, is in most cases just an unfortunate byproduct.

The team behind 'The Patchwork Approach' gave an inspiring talk on 'The Warmest Project', their unique initiative designed to bring language professionals together on a human level, sharing their weird and wonderful tales of life in the industry (read more at Quoting David Brooks, Jozeph Kovalov warned translators against getting “caught in the loneliness loop”.

‘Humans are caught in the loneliness loop. What drives us, ultimately, is the yearning for community and to be understood by others’

This occupational hazard is the very reason why it’s so important for independent language professionals and companies to meet up at events such as ELIA Together, and to build relationships that can continue well into the future. But what does this mean in reality?

Various practical ideas for promoting better community, collaboration and communication were discussed this year. One speaker recommended that translation companies take a more personal approach to the recruitment process using the concept of ‘remote interviews’, giving both parties the opportunity to develop a rapport with one another. Strategies like this reflect the need for the relationship between the language professional and the translation agency to be a mutually beneficial partnership rather than a mere business transaction – a mantra that fits in well with our ethos here at STB.

Heidi Kerschl, who in her own words has worked “on both sides of the fence”, suggested taking that collaboration even further, bringing together project managers and freelance translators (or, perhaps, Martians and Venusians!) for software training, for example. While the logistics of such an arrangement could prove challenging, the fact is that, whether we’re project managers or freelance translators, we face the same obstacles day in day out, so it makes sense to try and overcome them together.

Talking of obstacles - funnily enough, in an industry brimming with experts in language, communication was highlighted time and again at Elia Together as the greatest hindrance to successful collaboration. As keynote speaker Balász Kis reminded us in his opening talk, the faceless world of email communication opens up a minefield of potential misunderstandings. That’s why the best thing about an event like ELIA Together, besides the fascinating talks and the amazing location, is having the opportunity to venture out from behind the screen and talk face to face, without a keyboard in sight, with the people who make our profession a community.

According to Heidi Kerschl, “a good project manager is one you can get drunk with”, so we’ll meet you at the bar at Together 2018!

Lauren Reed

Surrey Translation Bureau







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Effective Localisation: Beyond Translation

Having material localised is essential for any company looking to expand into different countries. No matter the industry there will always be a need to manipulate the content to fit the target population, whether it is a product, business, movie, e-learning etc. To be effective this must be done right and not just translated.

So how do you achieve successful localisation?

First of all it is important to understand what localisation actually is. In short, localisation is altering content for a different locale or population. The most obvious example of this when working internationally is translating content. However, localisation does not stop at translation, it also includes…

-Changing images, graphics or colour schemes

-Altering content to match the desires of the population

-Accurately inputting translated material that may vary in size

-Converting to the target demographics units e.g. kilometres, currency etc.

-Using the correct formatting for dates, times etc.

-Meeting legal and cultural requirements

The best way to successfully localise your content is to work with a translation and localisation provider, who can localise each part of your project whether it is websites, video or printed material. To make this process run smooth and efficiently It is important to consider the following things before diving into localisation.


First things first, languages.

Put your selected languages into stages (either in similar groups or by importance).

 Stage one: French, German and Italian

 Stage two: Chinese, Japanese and Korean etc.

 Focusing on fewer languages will help the quality checking process. This will allow an improvement in work flow and highlight any areas that may need editing for the localised version to work.

Next, find your range.

Identify what does and doesn’t need localising.

Audio, video, text, images, tables, screenshots, logos and names are just a few things to consider.

Have any of these things been translated or localised previously? If so, compile a glossary with them all in, this will help your localisation provider. Often brands are already used in the target country, therefore they probably don't need localising. Selecting anything that doesn't need to be localised saves time and money.

Make an Estimation

Estimate the word counts and timing for the audio, video or text.

Prices for localisation are often done by word count. Knowing these can help your localisation service provider give you an accurate quote. Little things like this are often overlooked by companies and it basically means more work for the localisation provider and therefore more time and money.


Now consider your design

Changing languages can cause havoc with the design of your content.

To avoid this, limit the text on images and in videos. Also, consider that text expands in different languages, on average by 20-50%. Furthermore many languages only 'work' in certain fonts and formats. If your original content contains all manner of fonts, italics, colours and even bold text the process of localising this will be much more difficult. So it is best to keep it simple if you know it will be localised at a later date.

Save, time, money and effort.

Can you provide the correct source material to be localised?

When providing content to be localised the editable source content is vital to make the whole process easier and therefore quicker and cheaper. If you have an English version already the easiest thing is to provide the source material which can then be altered.

Keep it cultural.

Countries have different views and beliefs on many things. Some are not all obvious.

Things such as colours, pictures, signs, gestures and symbols are all important to consider to make the localisation accurate because the last thing you want to do is cause offence.

In addition, some colloquial language and acronyms etc. wont translate directly, this causes issues if there are specific phrases or terms used for your product. A lot of phrases etc. are only relevant in their own specific culture and will be 'lost in translation' in other languages.

Listen to the pros.

Just because a person can speak a language doesn’t mean they can be a voice over artist. If you require voice-overs make sure you sample various artists and ensure that they fit your specific needs. Does their personal sound portray what you want it to?


Finally, test the content.

Review the validity of  the localisation, is it achieving what it set out to achieve? Does it still portray the same message? There is no point localising materials if the message is lost or confused.       

Double check the translations, no translator is 100% perfect and often words can have multiple meanings or can be interpreted differently. As a result, getting a second opinion on translations is essential.

Ensure that the product is user friendly, can the desired people access it. Make sure that this is across different platforms that may be used, e.g. PC, mobile, Mac. In addition is it available across different internet browsers?

The modern globalised world demands localisation, any think that needs to transcend across different countries and cultures needs to be localised effectively. Many people think simply translating material will suffice but this is not the case. In addition many people fail to understand the requirements to successfully localise something and therefore the above tips should be followed. You can avoid ineffective localisation by hiring experts that control all aspects of the localisation process for you. The key to this relationship comes down to good communication, if you can go through the factors above with your provider the process will be much smoother and inevitably more successful.

Adelphi StudioLtd

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6 billion reasons to translate the Untranslatable

Linguists have always been intrigued by pictorial and symbolic languages. Consider the Egyptians and their hieroglyphs, the Mexicans and their Aztec language or we can even go as far back to a time when spoken language hadn’t fully evolved and humans would communicate with cave paintings. And now, the dawn of the digital age- with its plethora of revolutionary technologies -has brought with it a new pictorial language: Emoji.

In 1999 Shigetaka Kurita was inspired by the symbols found around him, like in weather reports, and created Emojis for Japanese mobile operators. Since then, thanks to the social media revolution, Emoji has gathered pace and momentum, with current estimates indicating that usage is prolific: up to 6 billion are sent every day. No wonder it is starting to affect international communications. Emoji use in international communication.

Nowadays, you can almost guarantee that you’ll find some form of emoji when using social media or blogs, translating online transcripts, designing online marketing campaigns or conducting market research online. They are even creeping into the most formal of emails as a way of adding to or changing the tone of a sentence.

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ The initial stumbling block is having to translate a relatively new, constantly-evolving, pictorial language that is for the most part unregulated by dictionaries or grammar books. For anyone with enough fame and money, there is even the possibility to create bespoke Emojis. To complicate things even further, cross-cultural and platform-based variants exist within this new language as well–some examples below.Platform-based differences




Examples of different cultural interpretations
Throw all the aforementioned challenges into the multilingual, culturally-sensitive hot pot of international communication and it’s worth asking “will this ever be a truly global language?”. Will the thoughts, feelings, emotions, intentions ever be interpreted consistently by people all over the world?


Well, step aside Esperanto-some headway has been made in making Emoji a competing universal language. In 2010, the Unicode Consortium (UC) incorporated Shigetaka  Kurita’ssymbols into Unicode, allowing them to be used outside of their country of origin, Japan.The UC currently sets Emojis and their meanings, which are being standardized across different languages and cultures, as well as various operating systems. This truly is history in the making.

The reality of a universal language, however, is still just a twinkle in the UC’s eye.

Emoji remains a linguistic minefield where communicators, agencies and translators alike have fallen foul of the intended meanings, which can easily be misconstrued or seen as insignificant across the wealth of languages and cultures we have on our planet.

It is crucial in the Digital Age that a translator has a full understanding of the different meanings of Emoji in any source AND target text, taking into account the cross-cultural nuances of the thoughts, emotions and feelings that are changing every day in the online world. This is probably where the super-power of the professional human translator brain comes into its own –machine translation alone is not currently known for being able to accurately extract inferred meaning from Emoji symbols.

Thinking ahead

It looks like Emoji is here to stay for the foreseeable and there are at least 6 billion reasons a day as to why we will have to find ways to adapt tothis new language phenomenon. The hard facts are these -Emoji is HUGE. Emoji is GLOBAL. Yes, there are indeed challenges that come with it and it is going to need more work before it is fully multilingual. However, dare we go as far as saying that it could be the revolutionary global language that we have all been waiting for? For you to decide.






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Did you know French is the world’s third most important business language?


It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. With more than 220 million French speakers worldwide (along with 70 million partial-speakers), it’s Europe’s second most widely spoken mother tongue, and is in the top 10 most popularly used languages on the internet, too. Furthermore, French is the official language for about 29 countries, including countries that account for 20% of world trade in goods.

You’d be right in thinking that this positions it as one of the most useful languages around - and one that, certainly, qualifies for further consideration when you’re looking to translate aspects of your business.

 Grab your passports - let’s explore the idea a little more, shall we?

Other businesses are there.

French was the common “international language” for business and diplomacy for many years and remains an official language of the UN, NATO, World Trade Organisation and the International Olympic Committee. Ensuring your business communicates in French, then, implies that you’re in very powerful company!

The proof is in the pudding - businesses worldwide are using it, from pharmaceuticals to media publications to all sorts of marketing disciplines and - crucially - to tourist-centric companies, too such as Get My Boat, a boat rental service that connects boat owners and operators to customers worldwide. Employee Jess Segraves commented:

“French has enabled me to work easily with the Canadian and French media, website owners and webmasters quickly and efficiently. It’s extremely important for our international reach - a global marketplace does not just serve the English-speaking world!” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

“The whole of Paris is a vast university of Art, Literature and Music… it is worth anyone’s while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in everything.” - James Thurber

France has around 30 sites on Unesco’s World Heritage list (it’s fourth on the global rankings list) and it’s also home to the famous Louvre, which houses roughly 35,000 artifacts and attracts nearly 10 million visitors a year - more than any other museum in the world.

These are just two examples out of a list of many. France is very famous for its links to many of society’s beloved cultural disciplines, including fashion, cooking, art and architecture. You’d be hard-pressed to find a creative niche that the French haven’t famously excelled in, in fact - a proficiency which has bought them linguistic dominance, in turn, among many academics, creatives and tourists.

French isn’t a language that just has positive practical implications, therefore: it pulls at the heartstrings, strikes a chord - and ultimately makes you memorable.

“50% of current English vocabulary derives from French.” - France Diplomatie




It’s an easy language to learn, for one (particularly when pitched against others like Mandarin!). It’s also one of the world’s most popularly shared official languages, spoken in Belgium and Luxembourg (Europe), Cameroon and Madagascar (Africa) and North America (Canada) - to name but a few, giving it real global scope. Not only that, a lot of people feel inspired to pick up French recreationally due to its cultural symbolism (as aforementioned); the “fashion” of the language helping spread its reach even further.

When you’re communicating in French, you’re not simply speaking to those who are native to France - you’re speaking to the millions of people who’ve picked it up or adopted it in other countries where it lives as an official language. In picking up French, thus - you join a global community.

“The French air cleans up the brain and does good – a world of good.” - Vincent Van Gogh

Not only is French one of the world’s most popular languages, France is, too, one of the world’s most popular destinations in terms of business and leisure.

The largest country in Western Europe and bound by the North Sea, English Channel, Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, France borders six other countries, which makes it ideally suited for international trade and tourist accessibility.

Not only this, according to the French government’s website, last year the amount of Asian visitors coming to France increased by 22%, and American visitors by 15.2%. France isn’t just ideally positioned for European visitors, then, but possesses significant global draw; placing it very much in the international spotlight.

There’s a reason why people are calling it “The Language of the Future”.

The French-speaking global population is growing so rapidly, research by investment bank Natixis suggests it may be spoken by 750 million people by 2050 - overtaking both English and Mandarin.



 Theorists suggest that this might be in part due to the fact that Mandarin, one of the world’s most spoken languages, is excruciatingly hard to learn and may shift with “China’s certain demographic slide”. In contrast, French is easy to learn, present on all continents, in the global spotlight and one of the primary languages spoken on a continent projected to be economically prolific by 2050 - Africa.

“French is a language that makes those who speak it both calm and dynamic.” - Bernard Pivot, French journalist

 Mark Robinson Alexika Ltd


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It is no secret that machine translation (MT) technologies are becoming an increasingly widely implemented feature in online messaging used by customer service departments of transnational companies, and in b2b communications.
At their core, live MT systems usually operate based on a trained machine translation memory (MTM) in a way very similar to the use of TMs in CAT tools. Upon translating the customer’s query based on its memory, the machine offers the employee a suitable answer to use in conversation.
While the main purpose of such solutions is clear and their benefits include hugely reduced waiting time for the customer and a significant cost saving opportunity for the company, system’s implementation and maintenance are quite labour-intensive. Instead of hiring a language proficient agent, the company will still have to train an employee to use the software. Also, the MTM will need to be constantly updated and synchronized. It is very important to keep its contents up to date and reliable since the user will more likely be unable to read the machine-translated text.

Taking into account the wide variety of customer queries, specific terminology, slang, abbreviations and other language quirks, the system could easily drive the online conversation off-course and even affect the customer satisfaction (CSAT) level. For example, a Russian word «Хорошо» can be translated as “Well” in English (as in “You’ve done well”), but is often used similar to “OK” in conversational speach. If a Russian customer contacts an English-speaking customer service rep. who asks them to wait for a moment or two to check something, the machine might translate customer’s «Хорошо» as “well” (instead of “Ok”), making the customer look impatient or irritated. This is one of the many actual examples of small miscommunication incidents that might happen while using live MT software. However, if you compare their language barrier breaking capabilities as well as the Service Level Agreement (SLA) benefits for the companies utilizing them, it becomes clear that the overall value of MT engines is enormous.

A range of such solutions are employed by different companies and implemented into various live communication tools (e.g. liveperson , or Geofluent). There are also solutions more oriented on b2b communication, e.g.

On the other hand, we see an increasing demand for online services where live translation is performed by remote human translators rather then MT engines. Platforms such as SpeakUs or Cloud Interpreter focus their effort on facilitating “live interpretation from any location via browser or application” with the help of professional interpreters from all over the world.

In one way or another, technologies helps us all stay connected. And we hope that with the aid of NMT (Neural Machine Translation), live MT systems will only improve CSAT.

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A recent project concluded by Multilingual Manchester ( has identified more than 50 languages on signage throughout the city.  This signage included everything from business signs to posters and leaflets.  The most common languages other than English were Urdu, Chinese, Arabic and Polish.

The diversity of the languages in Manchester is just a sampling of the diversity in the United Kingdom.  Signs in multiple languages popped up not just at retail establishments but public services, and even on public buildings themselves.

This diversity of language in everyday life points to ever-growing diversity in workplaces around the UK.  Organisations are take inclusivity and diversity policies from the basic “sensitivity training” to the next level: integrating it into their organisational culture and practices (

However, this is just one piece of the multilingual workforce puzzle.  This organisational culture must be communicated to employees, and in order to preserve the diversity of today’s workforce, language services must be integrated.  Here’s how:

From the Beginning
The first step is identifying the languages in which you need information translated.  Your organization likely will not need 51 different translations, but it could be close.  If English is the second language of any employee, an organisation should provide translation services of important information for that employee.
One of the benefits of incorporating translation services ( into an organisation is the improved communication.  Nothing gets lost in an employee’s own interpretation.  This is important when drafting policies such as new human resources policies and especially diversity policies.  It also removes the burden of translation from the shoulders of multilingual employees.

To the Roll-Out
Once it’s time to communicate information to employees, there are a variety of ways to do so.  The most common, of course, is the ubiquitous email.  Yet again, without language services in place, this can leave some employees in the dark about what’s being shared.  This lost in translation phenomenon ( is most prevalent in written communications that include sarcasm and colloquialisms.

It is more difficult for organisations to offer translations and interpretations of emails.  That’s more emails than servers can manage, let alone a language services provider.  Instead, communications strategies can be combined with translation strategies to equip employees with the necessary information and tools.
Visual communications are beneficial to any workplace ( because they can be customized for individual audiences.  This allows an organisation to transmit information in multiple languages, tailoring each broadcast for a different language audience.  Targeted communications are going to lead to more engaged employees.

Additionally, investing in language services to foster diversity can make your organisational culture inviting, one of the many things that attracts new talent (  It will also attract new customers and clients and continue to engage the ones you already have.  If you haven’t integrated language services yet, now’s the time.

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Over the past few years translation management systems have evolved into complex tools that strive to maximise process efficiency and optimize bottom-line performance. Their development is a continuous quest for self-improvement, influenced by integration requirements and established business practice of a given market.

While developing our own customised TMS at Literra, we surveyed different types of users across Russia and "neigbouring countries" and  other TMS developers and wanted to share the key points to the ATC conference attendees.

Automation in LSPs 2013-2016

Statistics of the past 4 years tell us about an increased interest in automation. In 2013 only one out of two companies used some sort of TMS. Now we have companies that use up to 2 or even 3 systems simultaneously.

Over 50% of the LSPs surveyed have noted that their customers’ loyalty increased after they started using TMS. Proprietary solutions and enterprise-level commercial TMS have made managerial accounting completely transparent, as well as slowed down the project handling process.

Among TMS apparent advantages are; the users state transparency of business for owners and management, translation quality monitoring, task monitoring, cost control, plan-fact analysis, and these are only some of the many points.

We asked users of commercial and proprietary TMS to evaluate them against a set of criteria, 4 key parameters of which are implementation, result, support and expectations being met.

Survey results

According to delivered data proprietary solutions, 1C-based tools and cheap systems with limited functionality are in the lead. Some of the more popular European TMS are at the end of the spectrum due to high costs, complexity of customisation/adaptation and service level, based on the responses we have received.

Using our automation expertise and the results that we obtained through the survey we have made a list of recommendations for those who have not chosen a TMS yet:
·      Appoint a dedicated implementation manager with director-level authority;
·      Indicate key requirements for the future system;
·      Do not budget to the last penny, there will be unforeseen costs;
·      Make it official in-house;
·      Implement in functional units;
·      Be prepared to alter business processes in the company;
·      Take time to provide necessary support.

About the company

Literra has been on the Russian and international markets since 2006, providing a comprehensive range of translation, localisation, interpreting, SEO and translation training services. In our work we use a TMS based on Russian accounting system 1C which is also integrated with SDL Trados and Memsource.

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It was a pleasure and a privilege to represent careers in Modern Foreign Languages at the recent careers fair at one of our local secondary schools, Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton, North Yorkshire. A huge ‘well done’ is due to the organiser, Careers Advisor Yvonne Lang, on such a superbly organised event – I spent a full 2 hours talking solidly to mainly 15 and 16 year old linguists, and most of the other professions represented seemed to be very busy too.

After a few minutes, it became clear that the young people and their parents had just one question in mind initially – what careers can you follow if you study languages at university? I chose to speak from very personal experience, and I was quoting 3 initial thoughts:

-        As recommended by my university careers service after my degree in German Studies, you can be a teacher. I have every admiration for teachers, and they make a real difference to the lives of young people and widen their horizons through languages – but that is a special talent and was not for me.

-        -    You can, as I did, join a company that sells things in the country where your studied language is spoken. On joining a company in the plastics industry, I was sent immediately to Germany to work at trade shows and exhibitions. I then became the export contact for the company, and was sent to France and Holland. After a few years, I became an export manager at other companies and visited many countries on business including South Africa, Korea and Saudi Arabia. A qualification in languages is a passport – and a head start - into the fascinating world of international business and travel. You can be a one man or woman boost to your country’s balance of payments balance!

-        -    You can, as I did after 10 years of the above-mentioned exporting life, enter the thriving translation and interpreting profession. You generally need a post-graduate qualification to open up a number of career possibilities including translation of written documents (Legal? Technical? What could be your specialist subject?) from your studied language, conference interpreting to and from your mother tongue or translation project management. Your role is enabling companies and people to communicate and do business.

But just talking about all this reminded me of others who have used their languages in other careers. I know a chartered accountant who has a degree in Russian and French – and has been sent to audit his firm’s Russian and Bulgarian officers. I know a UK patent attorney who uses his fluent German to act at the European Patent Court in Munich….and I know a Spanish-speaking solicitor who specialises in Spanish property work….

So there are many options. But I tried to explain too that learning languages is great just for itself – for giving you a window into another culture, for helping you to understand what others are thinking and why they behave as they do…

I’d love to hear from other linguists on this topic. What have I missed? What other career ideas are out there? And why are more people in the UK not studying languages?

Mark Robinson, Alexika Ltd


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  • Geoffrey Bowden
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    The UK government needs to ret...
    Evidence from award-winning organisations such as Business Language Champions ( who have spo

Translation business profitability was, arguably, the most appealing topic of ATC 2016 Language Industry Summit discussions.

From size to essence

Growth for traditional translation services slows down year to year. It’s getting increasingly difficult for LSPs to win new customers and increase revenue, and marketing is getting more competitive. According to the 2016 bench marking survey and accounts for the latest financial year, at least five out of 20 if the UK’s largest translation companies did less business in 2015 than in 2014, or stayed flat. The number one company based in the UK, SDL, stayed on more or less the same level of revenue since 2012. RWS, the second largest LSP, grew 2% organically last year, but added about 25% via an acquisition of another organisation, CTi in the United States.

In a few years organic growth might grind to a halt.

Some managers of mature companies have already switched the focal point of their efforts to cost control and profitability. They are looking for ways to make their businesses more profitable, rather than just bigger.

How translation business owners control and optimise costs

Topics concerning profitability permeated a few key speeches at ATC Summit.

Roberto Ganzerli, the founder of one of the top Italian LSPs, Arancho Doc, presented a set of metrics his company uses to make costs transparent, expose hidden expenses, and track EBITDA. Roberto outlined how planning, metrics and procedures help AD become more efficient.

Ruth Partington of RP Translate spoke about communicating value to customers and maintaining margins. She called business owners to deconstruct their offers and identify individual services involved in making content multilingual, for example document engineering and file preparation. She advocated creating a pyramid-like hierarchy, with the highest-value added services on top, and communicating the value to customers this way, service-by-service, according to the value they represent. This solution approach is more rewarding.

Andrzej Nedoma of XTRF advocated process automation. His presentation suggested that margin erosion is a problem for 80% LSPs. To fight it, he suggested replacing manual project management with automated workflows, which would reduce in-costs and make the business more efficient.