Last week, e2f’s global management team assembled at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco for three days of discussions on the state and prospects of the translation industry, our role and place within the market, and our path to the future.
e2f has been providing language services for over a decade, and, in 2016 we achieved a place among Common Sense Advisory’s list of Global Top 100 Language Services Providers (LSPs). Thus our CEO Michel Lopez felt it was high time we got together to get to know each other better as a team, and to discuss the matters vital for taking e2f to the next level in our industry.
So from as close as San Jose and Las Vegas, and as far away as Canada, Argentina, France, Germany, Vietnam, Madagascar and Mauritius, sixteen members of our management team flew in from around the globe. Over the course of the week, we listened to our invited guests and to each other. We shared personal experience and perspectives, discussed options and debated plans. Also quite importantly, we had a lot of fun and celebrated our collective achievements!
Our first day’s discussions were led by Tahar Bouhafs and Don DePalma, respectively the CEO and Chief Strategist and Founder of Common Sense Advisory (CSA), the leading market research firm for the language services industry. Our distinguished guests provided vital perspective on our industry and e2f’s place within it. For example, out of over 18,500 language service providers that they track around the world in the $40 billion industry, they pointed out that even making it into the Global Top 100 list was already quite an achievement.
We then embarked on a discussion of where e2f saw itself in the industry, and where we wished to go next. A major focus of the discussion was in marketing segmentation, and proprly facing e2f’s services to specific opportunities and clients.
You are already beginning to see this reflected in the e2f website, with the release of industry-specific solutions pages for Digital Marketing, eLearning, and Gaming. Look for more changes in the coming months as we increasingly focus on how we can help you do what you do best!
Tahar had one other message for us all: CSA is currently conducting a survey on Gender in Localization Services. The survey is open to everyone, and participants will get the results for free when it is completed. The deadline for submissions is 14 February, so make your experiences known!
That evening, we kicked back and threw a party for our team. Our friends from Common Sense Advisory and Menlo Technologies joined us for the festivities.
Pierre Allard, e2f’s multimedia studio audio producer, brought his bass guitar — along with his whole band to play for us! Dr. Mojo brought us all together with great music, a lively beat, and dancing.
At the end of the evening, we all received gift bags which contained souvenir gifts that represented each country where e2f has a presence. The decorative sewn bag itself came from Vietnam!
The second day of our off-site began with a presentation by Spence Green of Lilt, and shared with us some of what he’s seeing on the Machine Translation front.
The rise of neural networking is on everyone’s top-of-mind. Is it getting good enough to replace human translators yet? No. But it is getting closer. BLEU scores continue to rise, though it must be said that even this method of measuring translation quality is problematic.
Spence showed how the various Machine Translation tools, including Google, Lilt, Microsoft, Systrans, and Trados, all compared in their latest real-world tests with BLEU score range somewhere between 29-33 (out of a scale of 100) for English-to-French translation. Human translation quality is generally higher. While “100” would be a theoretically perfect translation score, human translators were cited by Google to range around 46. You can read more about their quality evaluation methodology and results at Lilt’s website.
Bottom line: there is still plenty of job security for human translators. In fact, using adaptive translation systems like Lilt will only make human translators faster and more accurate in their jobs. Which will allow translators to take on more translation work, and turn projects even quicker. Rather than replace human translations, the linguistic community’s opportunity is to use tools like Lilt is to empower human teams with the best tools to automate and improve their jobs.
We began our third day with Heather Todd and her associate Laura Caspers leading us through a workshop entitled Enhancing Leadership. Each of us attending are already leaders. While some leadership traits are inherent, others can be trained, informed and polished. This was the basis of the discussion of a model framework for leadership. What makes us good leaders? And what makes good leaders better? We each got journals to record our reflections on our leadership journey.
We also participated in a team-building exercise to build bridges out of a bag of provided materials: various types of paper, yarn, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, straws and paper clips. The kicker was that, like in real life, the job specifications and goals for the bridge kept changing! Since e2f already works as a global virtual team working around the clock 24×5, in a way this was second nature to us!
Afterwards, we all took a tour of Alcatraz Island (originally in Spanish La Isla de Los Alcatraces, “The Island of the Sea Birds”). At one time the largest American fort west of the Mississippi River, it became famous as a Federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963. Later the island became a symbol of Native American rights, and, after being turned into a national park is now the anchor attraction of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The evening was capped off with a lovely closing dinner convened at the famous Italian restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, Alioto’s Waterside Cafe.
While we celebrated, it was important to keep in mind all of our accomplishments and success are truly due to you. To the trust and loyalty of our customers. For more than a decade now, we have dedicated our global team to your projects and needs. As we look forward to the coming years ahead, we thank for the trust you have placed in us, and the place you have elevated us to in the translation market. From all of us at e2f, from all parts of the world, we thank you!