Bridging Continents, Machine Translation, and Books
In April 2013, Ccaps was approached by a major, global player in the editorial market that wanted to leverage the opportunities opened by the emergence of a powerful middle class in Brazil. While Brazilians today have better access to the Internet and the country has decreased the level of illiteracy to virtually zero, learning a foreign language is still a challenge for most. However, with the recent arrival of Amazon in Brazil, books are being sold in droves and competition in the editorial market has never been tougher.
With thousands of titles available in English, the European headquarters decided to benefit from the new scenario and translate 1,000 technical books into Brazilian Portuguese. There were only two problems that most of us language service providers are familiar with: their budget was rather limited and the turnaround times were impossibly short.
As an entrepreneur, I am tempted by challenges and attracted by numbers, especially large ones. A quick calculation put some magic figures in my head: 100 million words (and quite a few additional figures in my revenue too!). Diego Bartolomé was a colleague on the GALA Board at the time and I knew he would be able to come up with some innovative pricing solutions for this specific enterprise. Ccaps and tauyou responded to the prospect with a combination of machine translation (MT) and human post-editing that seemed unbeatable.
It was not unbeatable. Or at least we think so, since the prospect never replied to our proposal. In fact, the third or fourth version of the proposal, which had to be adapted to their changes to the original scope, their attempt to engage another LSP and MT solution, and their revisited deadlines, which almost drove the whole team crazy. My bad perhaps, since I should have qualified them and realized from the start that it would have never worked. But could you resist to such a challenge and perhaps an unmatched opportunity to enter in a whole new field of business while making history in the Brazilian translation market? We could be legend!
We have all faced unrealistic deadlines with laughable budgets and delusional expectations of quality level. The problem is, how do you deal with them without the regret of having to just say "no" and move forward to the next project? Even if you accept the challenge and win the bid, how do you communicate that to your miserable production team? Or even worse, how do you deal with the situation when everything starts falling apart and you hear that annoying little voice in your head repeating over and over, "I told you so, I told you so"? Are the possibilities created by machine translation driving clients more insane and hopeful than before?
This is exactly what I want to debate with you later this month in Istanbul, during my session at the GALA's Language of Business Conference. In "How We Failed to Win a 100,000,000 Word Contract… and What We Will Do Differently Next Time," Diego will help me revive each step of the process and freely discuss with the audience how we could have done better. Depending on the level of engagement, we may even take this further and extend the discussions to Knowledgefest, where a panel formed by a global buyer and a sales consultant will join us and judge the best solution proposed by audience members.
Looking forward to seeing you there!