Crowdsourcing has been firmly established as a valid and often preferable method for reaching organizational goals and accomplishing more with the same dollars. However, while crowdsourcing works very well for some problems, it may not be a viable solution for others. As the tools become available to crowdsource translation projects, it’s important to evaluate why organizations crowdsource in general and if those criteria are a good fit for crowdsourced translation initiatives.
In this article I’ll address four benefits organizations receive from crowdsourcing in general and evaluate if those benefits transfer effectively to translation projects.
1. Cost Savings
Cost savings is commonly the single biggest reason for crowdsourcing. Projects can be completed at a fraction of the cost of using a single provider. This is often due to the involvement of volunteer labor and the ability to leveraging service providers across the globe and at a greatly decreased price.
Cost savings are easily achievable in translation projects by utilizing bi-linguals who have an interest in the organization, or are simply interested in making a contribution. Partners, customers, affiliates, and content-matter experts are examples of community members that may want to assist in translation efforts.
In addition to leveraging volunteer involvement, you can also utilize translation marketplaces and crowdsourcing tools such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to find translators willing to work at a cost well below the industry average. Initial studies conducted by Lingotek show that by utilizing these tools the average cost-per-word can be decreased from $0.23 to under $0.03.
2. Increased Speed / Distributing Risk
Another common reason organizations want to crowdsource is to increase the speed of projects thus decreasing the total time to completion. By engaging the crowd, work is distributed across a broad swath of participants and is not dependant upon any individual. The slack from any single participant is picked up and handled by other participants thus preventing bottlenecks in moving the project forward and distributing the risk.
The translation industry stands to receive a huge benefit from the increased speed and distribution of risk that crowdsourcing provides. In the traditional translation model content is sent to an individual translator and disappears into the “translation black hole.” Organizations are often left completely dependent on a single individual translator for the quality and timeliness of their critical translation projects.
By utilizing the crowd and cloud-based translation tools, these risks are distributed across multiple translators who can work efficiently in moving the project forward. Not only are the quality and time risks alleviated, but additional benefits are realized by translators reviewing each other’s work thus improving the overall translation quality. In addition, since the nature of the translation industry involves people globally, translators in Europe can keep the project moving forward while translators in the U.S. sleep and vice versa.
3. Increased efficiencies
The power of the crowd allows for a very efficient distribution of resources. The knowledge of the crowd can often alert organizations to the most critical issues thus helping them to prioritize with great ease and effectiveness. Much how a market economy invisibly sets prices, the crowd can invisibly provide organizations with the knowledge and resources they need when they need them. This prevents organizations from unnecessarily utilizing time and resources on initiatives that provide a low return.
The crowd can provide these same efficiencies in translation projects. In today’s content-rich environment it can be hard to choose exactly what content needs to be translated and which content is of minor importance. It’s often unrealistic to translate all of your content, particularly the mass of content generated by an online community. The crowd can help organizations identify the most important content to ensure translation work proceeds with maximum impact and minimal cost.
The crowd can also help determine in which languages there is the most demand for your content. Some content may be relevant to Spanish speakers while other content may be of interest to French speakers. While it’s unrealistic to translate all your content into all languages, by utilizing the crowd you can translate only the content you need into the exact languages demanding them.
4. Brand involvement
One of the side-effects of crowdsourcing is an increased level of brand involvement and loyalty. The more time a community spends involved with an organization, the more they will tend to feel connected to and have an affinity towards their brand. Participants feel a sense of connection and ownership when they work as a community towards a common goal.
Using crowdsourcing in translation projects can produce these effects of increased brand loyalty and can have a particularly strong impact in solidifying global communities. Because translation projects by definition involve bi-linguals, utilizing the crowd for these projects can become part of an organizations strategy to expand globally or into communities speaking other languages. Instead of being seen as an outsider trying to encroach upon a new community, organizations will be able to penetrate new markets from the inside and engage community members in a non-threatening way.
Language is social. It connects people and ideas. But what happens when it stops connecting, slows down, and goes offline? What happens when your global audience is left in the dark because your translations are stuck in someone’s inbox?
With the Translation Network, Lingotek makes your content accessible to your customers globally. By connecting your company with our technology and translators, we connect your ideas with the world. Lingotek makes going global possible.
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Lingotek | The Translation Network is a cloud-based translation services provider, offering translation management software and professional linguistic services. We are the leader in collaborative translation technology with an innovative cloud translation management system (TMS) that uses computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools to facilitate faster, more efficient, language translation. Lingotek was the first to introduce cloud-based TMS technology to the United States in 2006 with the launch of a fully online, web-based, computer-assisted translation (CAT) system that pioneered the integration of translation memories (TM) with main-frame powered machine translation (MT). Our multilingual application program interfaces (API) and connectors pair with the industry’s top enterprise applications to automate and integrate the translation process. They include:
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Lingotek works with some of the largest, most innovative companies in the world, in a wide variety of industries and services including government, technology, finance, telecom, travel, and education. Our clients include departments in the U.S. Government and several large Fortune 500 companies. Here are some of the Customers that are trusting their translation processes with the Lingotek Translation Network.
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