Overcoming the challenge of the mobile economy

According to Google executive Jerry Dischler, Google searches made from mobile devices now outnumber those from personal computers in ten countries, including the United States and Japan. This explains why most new business leads are generated by mobile users. These mobile internet buyers require immediate gratification, instant responses, immediate quotes and almost immediate translations. They want minimal personal contact, and they want to buy a product or service without a long-term commitment.

The traditional sales process is a thing of the past. After all, the internet economy runs 24/7/365, with no sleep, holidays or vacations. Unfortunately, most traditional language service providers (LSPs) are unprepared to compete in this mobile marketplace. The software and tools are simply not available.

For those of us trying to stay ahead of the game, we have no choice but to develop our own portals and mobile applications because most commercial LSP software providers do not have mobile apps with responsive portal designs. They’re still requiring heavy infrastructure, maintenance and workflows that are not getting us closer to internet buyers. We’re left with nothing more than a lot of unnecessary steps that add little value to the life of projects.

As corporate budgets become leaner, employers are cutting office space costs by allowing employees to work from home. And, due to the significant demand for specialized talent, people are being hired around the world. As corporate buyers and decision makers become decentralized, travel is increasing and mobile devices are relied on more and more to search for LSPs. I predict that in the very near future, business-to-business (B2B) sales will be replaced by business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, as purchases are increasingly made through mobile devices and vendors become official only after a proven B2C relationship is established.

As I picture who our global customer is, I picture someone developing new territories around the world for a major corporation. She carries a tablet and a phone so she can work from anywhere. As she travels to global markets, she needs a language tool at her fingertips. She wants to have easy access to a dashboard with all her language project requests from her mobile phone or tablet. She expects secure video connections, secure data transfer and credit card payments. She doesn’t have time for a conference call with an LSP salesperson, but she wants to know a team is available to support her 24/7/365 wherever she is in the world.

Mobile apps are the answer to supporting this global customer. The benefit of allowing customers to install a mobile app is that it brings us closer to them. Our icon becomes part of their phone, one of their most precious assets, and we can interact with them and provide information through mobile alerts. Unfortunately, deploying this technology brings up several issues and concerns, including:

1Current computer-aided translation and translation management system (TMS) software vendors are not mobile ready.

2 Promising technologies are being developed, but they’re being developed by our competition: other translation companies.

3 Software development deviates our attention from our core business, which is delivery of language services.

After developing a TMS for more than eight years, I can say that it’s not something I want to do again. It required us to travel the world looking for the best developers, create endless business requirements and spend countless hours doing user acceptance testing. It not only distracted us from growing our business, but the added expense didn’t put us ahead of the competition. After multiple failed corrective attempts to alleviate our workflow challenges, we finally decided to buy out-of-the-box software. This put an end to our operational challenges and improved customer satisfaction.

It’s time for commercial technology vendors to become mobile ready so we can address the market trends and better support our customers, employees and vendors. The good news is that based on my recent conversations with technology vendors, it’s evident they’re aware of our challenges, and they’re willing to create solutions that better support the LSP industry. I encourage the industry as a whole to come together, support technology vendors and push to make these solutions a reality in the very near future. This is the only way we can overcome the LSP industry’s biggest challenge.