Gala – Sevilla 2015

Disruption at GALA

I have just returned (or rather; recovered!) from a long, energetic, enthusiastic, informative and exhausting few days in Sevilla, where I attended the GALA (Globalization and Localization Association) conference, the topic of which, discussed and debated, was “Disruption”. This was my first GALA conference, and looking back at the reams of notes that I made during the sessions and keynote speeches, I hope it was not my last.

Each day followed with thought-provoking discussions on a variety of topics

With the overarching theme of disruption being discussed during each morning’s keynote, led by Meritxell Guitart (Hogarth), Jochen Hummel (founder and creator of Trados) and Paula Shannon (Lionbridge), each day followed with thought-provoking discussions on a variety of topics, from Tomorrow’s Technology, to Sales improvement ideas, to the Travel & Hospitality industry and its localisation needs. Topics ranged from the specific to the broad, covering not only translation but also interpreting and the technology that can aid the advancement of these.

Given the theme of disruption, one company that was referred to a number of times was Uber. Indisputably one of the most disruptive companies of the last few years, Uber has paved the way in an industry we had all assumed would stay the same, and is now present in 55 countries internationally. It has taken technology and turned an industry on its head. Whilst there has been reluctance from many to see this change happen, progress has been made nonetheless, and we are now faced with the statistic that 100,000 Uber cars in London would sufficiently replace 1 million cars that are currently there. It is without doubt a success story of disruption.

Is there someone who will wow us with technology that might be able to translate the 99% of the world’s content that isn’t currently in more than 1 language, for free?

Applying this to the industry which I am now in, the question is; do we have an Uber who is going to come along and turn us all upside down? Is there someone who will wow us with technology that might be able to translate the 99% of the world’s content that isn’t currently in more than 1 language, for free? Naysayers will argue that this isn’t possible; that we cannot automate and make readily available every piece of content in every language, but, as Paula Shannon (Lionbridge) rightly pointed out, success in business is changing before you have to. The real successes of our industries will be those who go far enough to force a change before the industry forces us to do it. We either make the changes, or chase them.

One thing is for sure, disruptive technology applies to every industry and the Language Services industry is no different and it is refreshing to see it being discussed at the GALA conference.

Overall, the GALA conference was insightful and I have taken away valuable lessons and have learnt an ‘uber’ amount on how technology can impact our industry. I will definitely be an early bird for next years conference!


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