ATC Annual Conference 2015

Rob Cantarero, Project Manager within the Marketing sector at Capita TI, tells us all about his first visit to the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) Annual Conference…

This year’s ATC Annual Conference, held in Manchester, provided me with a unique insight into the importance for localisation companies worldwide to ensure they keep up with technological advances in the industry.

K International CEO Richard Brooks used Porter’s 5 Forces to demonstrate why firms in the localisation industry make different profits. In order to succeed and expand their own market presence, a translation company should ensure that it uses its main resource – given its valuable, rare, and inimitable nature – to gain sustainable competitive advantage. Examples of these would be working with linguists who are specialists in a niche industry or who have the ability to translate into uncommon languages.

A translation company should ensure that it uses its main resource to gain sustainable competitive advantage

Richard Brooks went on to emphasise how translation companies’ entire strategy should be based on adding value. Given the ever-increasing number of localisation firms out there, Brooks suggested that some should consider following Kim and Mauborgne’s “Blue Ocean Strategy”. This would involve a translation company offering a unique selling proposition, enabling it to shift its focus away from competitors through differentiation and through creating new market space.

A common theme at the ATC Conference was the ever-increasing importance of Machine Translation

This focus on value, profit and people enables cost savings and creates value for customers and other stakeholders involved. For instance, some of Capita TI’s differentiators would be:

1. the ability to rely on the knowledge and resources of the whole Capita group;

2. strict governance schemes, of which MultiTrans is an example;

3. ability to support a range of business verticals;

4. the only language service provider to feature within the FTSE 50 list.

Ubiqus Business Development Manager Manchandan Kaur Sandhu highlighted the importance for translation companies to develop productive relationships with their supply chains. Sandhu pointed out that collaboration adds value and can be a game changer in the translation market, with the main purpose of providing disruption and innovation.

A common theme at the ATC Conference was the ever-increasing importance of Machine Translation. Kantan CEO Tony O’Dowd stated that localisation workflows predicated on human endeavour alone are doomed, and that only the introduction of automated translation can deliver productivity benefits for both parties.

The translation industry is currently in rapid transition

Translation industry researcher Konstantin Dranch cited proactive account management as the most effective way for translation companies to grow together with aggressive acquisitions, with firms across the world worth around USD 6 billion waiting to be acquired.

The final impression from this year’s ATC Conference focussed on the fact that the translation industry is currently in rapid transition. There are a lot of immature companies in the UK: British firms should follow the example of US-based companies and be more aggressive and audacious when devising their competitive strategy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ATC Conference, not least because it was held at Old Trafford and some of the workshops were held in luxurious boxes overlooking the football pitch. The whole experience was definitely worthwhile as it provided me with an insight into the industry which wouldn’t normally be possible as part of my day job.

The key point which stood out for me was that the localisation industry should embrace long-term positive change and any technological advances to help implement it, even if we encounter initial resistance from all parties.

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