If your enterprise is active in different language markets, your company’s translation memories are valuable assets that you might not even realize you have.
And you should.

Asset-Wordbee

Take Acme Widgets as an example. Next week the company is rolling out a marketing campaign targeted at the do-it-yourselfer, of a particular aspect of their popular Wonder Widget. This multi-purpose widget has several capabilities, but its built-in measuring tape is being promoted with this campaign, with a slogan of “Stand Tall with Wonder Widget”.

As I’ve chronicled earlier, the source language is English and there are 12 destination languages needed for the September 1st launch. A wrench was thrown into the engine, though, when it was determined that their “Measure Up with Wonder Widget” was too similar to a competitor’s, and, with only three weeks to launch, the slogan was changed, impacting nearly all the requested collateral.

When the market research company conducted AB testing on the upcoming campaign, they found overwhelming evidence that a slim version of the widget with measuring tape-only capabilities would be a high-demand item for folks dabbling in their own home repairs and renovations. Based on the test subjects’ reactions to the Wonder Widget, further tests were made and it was decided the light version would be produced and sold throughout Latin America (LAM), and five Eastern European countries (Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus and Romania) – for a total of 8 languages. The Wonder Widget is available in 24 countries and is localized into 12 languages.

Because Acme Widgets has Translation Memories (TM) of all the Wonder Widget collateral, that is, all the previously translated content in database format, the localization costs of creating a slim version of the product will be much less than it would be for a brand new product. This has other benefits too, including an accelerated launch date. With the functionalities and instructions being described in the very same way as it is within the original product, there will be many exact matches within the TM, including entire paragraphs. The slim version of the Wonder Widget will be called The Good Measure.

Many global enterprises don’t realize the value of their translation memories but as we have seen with the light version, being able to leverage the previous translations gives the organization more flexibility to respond to market demands. With TM, a company has a solid platform for its translators for future projects, be they in-house or external. When external providers are being used on a project, TM makes the learning curve much quicker for them – especially when dealing with highly technical and complex products.

If you outsource your localization requirements to third party vendors, you may want to look at your agreements with them to determine who has the Intellectual Property rights to the TM. If that’s held by the vendor, you may want to negotiate for those rights. Having control over the TM doesn’t just mean you’ll have greater flexibility to roll out like products in the future; it also means you’ll have more flexibility to look at other translation vendors if you find your current vendor’s performance lacking.

Just like procedure manuals, translation memories are part of a corporation’s worth and need to be considered and protected as you would any other asset the company owns. That means TMs need to be taken into account and they should be protected – backed up, and out of reach of prying eyes – or rogue employees.

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