GALA and Localization World? Reflections from a new member
By: Thomas Deibjerg (TLT Documents)
01 August 2005
First a little background information: TLT Documents works both as an MLV and an SLV for Danish. We employ what I would call a three-legged business model: We do MLV services for direct Scandinavian clients; we do MLV services for partners across Europe; and finally we subcontract for Danish for some of the larger MLVs. We are 15 people in our main office and maintain a large pool of freelancers and teams across Scandinavia.
Although we have worked in an international environment for more than 10 years and maintain a solid partner network, until recently, our international focus and ambitions have never been that strong. A full-fledged LISA membership was out of the question, due to our modest size. Embarking on an international crusade all by ourselves was considered a doomed mission. So where do you go as a medium-sized Scandinavian localization vendor? Where do you meet with peers in the industry? There are many opportunities in our business, but also many threats. How do you relate to these? How do you make yourself more visible internationally? By the autumn of 2004, we were starting to ask ourselves these questions inside our company, and – guess what – that was exactly around the same time when we were recommended membership of GALA.
Even though the Localization World conference was the main event, it was the pre-conference arrangements on Monday and Tuesday that – to me – proved the most valuable. Any barriers between people were quickly eliminated during a cozy welcome dinner on Monday evening. We simply felt welcome and onboard the GALA ship straight away! The next day, the GALA board took us through a well-conducted members meeting at the Hilton. Vice Chair Aki Ito reminded us all why GALA membership is important. His bold conclusion was that in order to become visible in the market it makes more sense to work together and promote the industry in unison than to be all on your own.
We then all joined a discussions workshop treating industry-relevant issues such as pricing, standards, quality and tools. These group discussions were a new initiative, I was told, as they allow people to get involved and perhaps speak more freely. And it worked. I participated in the quality sessions and it was remarkable how everyone had something relevant to say. Every aspect of the quality issue was treated thoroughly and conclusions were made on how we as GALA members could help ourselves by making quality standards available from the GALA website. Overall, the workshop proved one major point: GALA is indeed a forum for interested companies. If you want to get something out of your GALA membership, get involved!
Before we went to Bonn, Kim and I printed out the comprehensive three-track program and made our selections. There were so many interesting sessions to attend and so little time. Come the day and we found ourselves missing half the sessions, and spending the time talking to peers and potential business partners instead. But that’s the other part of the story, isn’t it? As owners, we also have a vital interest in meeting new people, discussing the business and looking to the future.
If I were to suggest any improvements it would be to look at the number of panelists in each session: The sessions I attended (including one I had been looking forward to on the dollar fluctuation) all had three competent panelists but after their contributions there was hardly any time left for discussion and questions from the audience. So my suggestion would be to extend sessions containing three panelists to 90 minutes. Or maybe only use two panelists where relevant.
The three days in Bonn convinced me that GALA is the right place to be for a company like TLT Documents. You have to be global in a global world. Even though we are in a highly specialized niche, at the end of the day we are all craftsmen and merchants facing the market’s opportunities and threats. And many of these are best faced together.
Looking back, I must say that everything seemed very nicely organized. As a new member I really felt that everything was taken care of. So a big thank you to the organizers. I’m sure I was not the only one to notice the warm round of applause for GALA spurred by Ulrich O. Henes, President of The Localization Institute, in his welcome speech. It was appropriate and well-deserved.