E.g., 04/07/2020
E.g., 04/07/2020

Continuous Delivery: Adapt the Thinking, Adopt the Mindset

By: Véronique Özkaya (GALA Chair) - LanguageWire

30 August 2016

The shifting business landscape is having a very direct impact on how and where content is consumed. Mobile, social and cloud are impacting and changing what we connect to, how we connect to content, product and brands and how we do business.

Earlier this year in Dublin, Phocuswright, the main travel tech conference in Europe reviewed the trends, technology and turmoil affecting the European travel market. Oliver Heckmann, Google's VP of travel and shopping, cited a 40% increase in mobile searches in the travel category in just one quarter. In that sector, travel OTAs, hotel groups, and modes of transport providers are falling over themselves to be one of the 4 travel apps we keep on our smartphone.

Social in conjunction with mobile changes everything: how businesses engage with their customers and employees, market their products and services and provide top customer service. This goes beyond B2C: the market for social collaboration software for enterprise will reach over $6bn this year. Another example affecting us is game mechanics being used in retail but also in business environments for rewards. Think of the points you collect on Expedia for example.

On a broader level, Ericsson and Cisco estimate there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020 as we connect tablets, cars, machinery and medical equipment. This means businesses have to recognize that 24/7 is here and instantaneous access to fresh content is the standard of today.

What Does This All Mean for your Business?

It mostly means that speed to market is the name of the game. And with speed to market comes continuous delivery. For software publishers, continuous delivery has been a hot topic for a while now, but it is quickly spreading to all industries.

Companies like Facebook have created apps where continuous delivery is particularly relevant. “Safety Check” for example enables people in extreme situations such as earthquakes to let their network know they are SAFE. Safety check has to go live almost immediately around the world. Without a continuous delivery translation methodology, this would just fail. An obvious example where speed is of the essence.

How do you make a continuous delivery methodology work for global content delivery? In my opinion, it is about letting go of 3 myths:

  1. Quality needs to be perfect, every single time
  2. Our customers need to know about our translation processes in every finite detail
  3. New models and approaches do not work

Letting Go Of Perfection

Continuous delivery is about letting go of things that make us comfortable: 2,500 words a day, quality processes with nice checklists, Visio charts outlining our processes in detail to customers.

We keep talking about innovation, but considering alternatives to Translate-Edit-Proofread (T-E-P) is tough. In the language industry, we recoil in horror thinking of the errors being left in a translation. However, when I talk to customers in marketing and localization departments, it transpires that quality is not always the ultimate goal, it is mostly about business goals.

In a continuous delivery model, you can fix fast and make speed a habit. If you place the customer at the center, quality is no longer about error detection but rather customer satisfaction. In cases where translated content is needed NOW, close enough can be good enough. In order to achieve that, you will sometimes have to let go of perfection and adopt a mindset to get the content out: “done” may be better than perfect.

Focus on Business Outcomes, Not Every Nook and Cranny

Have you ever been in a meeting where your customer (or prospect) seems to phase out as your project manager explains the ins and outs of translation memories? If you are in the hotel business, do you care about the translation process or about filling rooms thanks to your localized website?

In continuous delivery, the aligned focus between customer and supplier on what the clear goals are and why is critical. That means that you need to reach an agreement on the deliverables and make trade-offs.

When you are moving fast with many moving parts, one mistake can mean delay, and delay is a forbidden word in the world of CD.

New Models Do Not Work. Really?

Actually, they do work. Crowdsourcing may be a means to an end, machine translation can offer satisfactory or even great results. It is a matter of applying a solution to a specific problem rather than opting for one-size-fits-all.

With language, everyone seems to have an opinion, and everyone blames Google Translate if a translation seems poor… with little understanding of the purpose of the translation. A billboard which advertises flights on the roadside in Sweden will have another purpose than the knowledge base for customer care.

Customization within a technology framework is becoming far more common for continuous delivery content. This was a recent trend at a Continuous delivery panel at a Localization event earlier this year where companies spoke about how their business is not at all centered on the words, processes are highly adaptable, and in some cases use a highly customized mixture of self-developed and off-the-shelf tools to connect content and content repositories to the L10n workflow. This also means while consistent use of language assets can be guaranteed, the workflow is at the whim of the content owners: they can decide if they add layers of review or use MT, post edit or any other module in the workflow.

So How do you Concretely Adapt to Continuous Delivery?

Here are 3 Tips to Get Started:

  1. Ask your customers about their strategy.
    How they adapt to business trends is crucial to shaping your business model or adapting it.
  2. A flexible mindset is a must in continuous delivery, and for this you need engaged resources.
    Ask your staff how you should adapt processes to meet your customers’ goals. Make it clear also that a “No can do” attitude does not cut it. At the very least, this will tell you if your team knows what your customers goals are, and how content will be used.
  3. Automate… then automate some more.
    Review where you can cut time, and remove as many manual steps as possible to enable translators to focus solely on translating or post-editing. Remember, time-to-market is the name of the game. And every part of the workflow can impact it.

Technology evolution models have taught us that what you believe to be the latest and greatest approach now, will be redundant at a near future point. This is driven by recent shifts to mobile, cloud, cognitive technologies and consumer personalization taking a firm hold. Global companies now see much of the content that they publish as having a very specific shelf life and a clear purpose.  In order to get global content working for your organization, you need to get it out there fast, be method agnostic, and break models that don’t serve your current and fast changing purpose.


     Véronique is currently GALA Board Chair. She also hold the position of Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Xplanation.  Prior to joining Xplanation, Véronique held senior management roles at Moravia, Lionbridge and Stream International. Véronique holds a double master’s degree in International Politics and Administration from the Université Grenoble as well as a Diploma in Public Relations from the Institute of Public Relations of Ireland.