Post-event Report: 6th IMTT Language & Technology Conference
By: Teddy Bengtsson (Idea Factory Languages)
03 June 2009
When you are based in Argentina, jumping on a one hour flight from Buenos Aires to Córdoba constitutes a local event. So setting off for the 6th Language & Technology conference organized there in April by IMTT meant the luxury of traveling with hand luggage only, and thanks to online flight check-in, my early evening Wednesday departure was as painless as it gets. The taxi ride to BA’s domestic airport in rush hour traffic was surprisingly quicker than the flight and even allowed a cup of coffee before boarding. After arrival at Córdoba airport, the transfer into the city for the night was slightly less relaxing, courtesy of a taxi driver who clearly had aspirations more attuned to the Formula 1 circuit than the streets of Argentina’s second city. Still, I was safely dropped off at my city center hotel and there was even time for a quickly arranged dinner with some friends and colleagues as well as the customary late night e-mail check before getting to bed.
The two Ceci’s of IMTT ready to attend the GALA-sponsored dinner.
After an early breakfast the following morning, I met up with a couple of conference attendees/speakers from Brazil, and we were given a lift out to the conference hotel located an hour’s drive outside the city in a beautiful setting just below the “sierras”. Activities for this pre-conference day included tools workshops as well as a vendor management seminar in which I had the pleasure of joining Renato Beninatto (Common Sense Advisory) and Mauro Bertuol (Terralingua) in presenting and moderating the sessions. There were a dozen participants in the seminar, keen to share experiences in dealing with vendors of different types. Renato set the scene by outlining the concepts of vendor management and how it fits into the industry, before we decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and move the group to pool-side for a discussion on how to deal with requests for the many types of different documents and forms so widely used in our business. After lunch we moved back indoors, favoring air-conditioning over the increasing heat outside, to hear about Terralingua’s web-based implementation of the LISA QA model. Having personally led the workgroup that developed the original version of the model back in the mid-1990’s, it was not only interesting to see this practical application but also rewarding to see it very much alive in the industry after all those years. The QA theme was continued as the closing session of the day addressed how to deal constructively and collaboratively with this critical aspect of the translation/localization process.
Dinner is served. Carlos Rivarola and Carina Cesano (Spanish Express), Teddy Bengtsson (Idea Factory Languages), Fabiano Cid (Ccaps), Julio Garcia (Rosario Traducciones) and Cecilia Maldonado (IMTT).
A GALA-sponsored dinner in the evening presented the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind after a hard day’s work. It brought together a group of 39 people from current and prospective GALA companies eager to enjoy the fine Argentine cuisine – with a heavy focus on steak and red wine of course – and at times even to talk a little about business. Needless to say it turned out to be rather a late evening
The following morning saw the start of the conference proper. The wisely designed schedule allowed for a rather leisurely breakfast before the opening by the two Cecilia’s of IMTT – Iros and Maldonado respectively – who had also asked me to make some opening remarks to get things under way. The morning sessions included presentations from companies Common Sense Advisory and McElroy Translations, with Renato Beninatto explaining where the translation dollars are in an analysis of the translation and localization spend in the US by major exporting sector and specific industries according to North American Industry Classification (NAICS) codes. Bob Donaldson then showed some good applications of bad machine translation in a presentation that covered an integrated approach involving MT, existing search and analysis technologies, and a “human translation on demand” component triggered after customer verification of the potential value of automated translation. Laura Baudo from Spanishbackoffice then shared project management ideas and tips on how to reduce reviews to the minimum by investing in preparation and following standardized procedures, and was followed by a view on the translation industry from a research perspective in Argentina by systems engineer Pablo Masjoan. Kirtee Vashee from Asia Online continued on the automated translation theme by introducing an emerging best practices model and the prospects for human assisted machine translation. A day packed full of information was concluded in the not so early evening by Gabriela Lemoine of Hispano Language Advisory talking about the 2009 outlook for healthcare translation and Fabian Choi of Linguagraphics presenting a practical and effective approach to managing multilingual DTP projects.
The conference dinner that began an hour or two later provided an opportunity to enjoy a traditional Argentine “asado”, or what folks in other regions typically refer to as a barbecue. The quality and quantity of both food and wine proved an inspiration that could only lead in one direction… Displaying highly uncharacteristic wisdom, and perhaps some signs of age emphasized by the previous late night, this roving reporter sneaked quietly away from proceedings as the karaoke singing began – supported by a strategically equipped laptop. At the time I identified at least two of the day’s speakers (no names should be mentioned...) as ringleaders for this activity, which I understand kept on to the early hours of the morning.
Panel of experts: Teddy Bengtsson (Idea Factory Languages), Fabiano Cid (Ccaps) and Richard Sykes (LocFlowTech) concentrating on the presentation by fourth panelist Gabriela Morales (Rosario Traducciones).
Understandably, things (as well as people…) were a little slow to get moving for the second and final conference day. However, Fabiano Cid from Ccaps provided the perfect tonic with an inspiring vision of the opportunities for the Latin American language industry. Bob Donaldson came back to try and help us understand how technology can help us save time, and he was followed by the “little and large show” of Richard Sykes and Daniel Goldschmidt from Localization Flow Technologies who gave an overview of the localization tools on the market today. In between, there was lunch and the traditional raffle which saw many happy attendees walk away with a variety of prices from SDL and Wordfast licenses to T-shirts. Luciana Ramos of Ocean Translations posed the question of whether short-listing, training and retaining linguistic resources represents an investment or expenditure before the conference wrapped up with an expert panel providing their view on the outlook for the industry. I had the opportunity of being part of this in the illustrious company of Gabriela Morales (Rosario Traducciones), Fabiano Cid and Richard Sykes, as we left ourselves open to probing questions from the audience following some brief individual presentations on the topic.
In conclusion, it was a highly enjoyable and rewarding event with a strong program and great networking opportunities, emphasized by the excellent organization and informal atmosphere. The “buzz” was very much around Latin America emerging as a force in the language industry and how technology is changing and will continue to change our business. Arranging an industry event is challenging in the best of times, but even more so in the middle of a global financial crisis. Although the tough market conditions meant that attendance numbers were negatively affected, the conference brought together around a hundred professionals from all areas of our industry, from freelance translators to business owners. Cecilia Iros and Cecilia Maldonado of IMTT deserve a lot of credit for their commitment and hard work to make it happen!
Teddy Bengtsson is CEO and founding partner of Idea Factory Languages, a leading language service provider in Latin America with production offices in Buenos Aires and Porto Alegre. With a background in the translation/localization buyer side of the business from major global companies, he aims to bring those perspectives to the vendor industry in general and to Latin America in particular. Teddy is a regular presenter at industry events and has written several articles published in the industry press.