LangOps
Pipe Dream, LSP´s Heaven or Just a New Hashtag?

by Arthur Wetzel

Sometimes things become reality if you only put the right label on it. With that, the view on the real concept itself often becomes blurry or too shiny to recognize its real value. Let’s have a look into the newly created notion of LangOps, or ContentOps.

As the world becomes more globalized, language is crucial for many companies as they connect with clients internationally.

  • In a CMO Council poll, almost half of marketers (49%) said that localized marketing is critical to their company’s success.
  • Nearly a quarter of decision-makers across sectors believe language and cultural barriers are among the top-five problems that hinder global expansion, according to the 2021 Unbabel LangOps Survey conducted among companies in the US with worldwide operations.

Existing language or localization units are dispersed, and most companies lack the coordinated resources necessary to optimize multilingualism.

Thanks to substantial breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), there is now a solution to ease such issues by centralizing resources to streamline language translation throughout the organization. Language Operations is the newly suggested term for this — LangOps.

Let’s go through why language is crucial for customer service, the benefits, and how to choose a LangOps leader to concentrate on increasing technology and people as needed.

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Localization and content operations

Let’s begin with the importance of LangOps in content operations, because in today’s world: Content is key.

National boundaries are effectively dissolved when things are sold over the internet. With the introduction of ecommerce, any store may now offer its items to people all over the world. It appears that expanding into other places is as simple as launching an English-language online store. However, studies have shown that localizing information and visuals for an international audience is critical to the profitability of a business.

People cannot communicate with businesses that they do not understand. Even if your online customers are fluent in your primary language, forcing them to go through a mental translation loop before dealing with you is an unpleasant experience. After all, according to a CSA study, 75% of consumers prefer to buy things in their native language and 92.2% prefer to make purchases in their home currency.

Unleashing growth through unified language strategy

To be relevant in the global world, you must be able to communicate effectively with your audience. If you want to expand internationally, localization is essential.

In fact, we need a new paradigm established around language operations, or LangOps. Language operations focus on streamlining the process of translating and localizing software and websites, whereas localization focuses on the specifics of doing so.

LangOps is a multidisciplinary function that assists multinational corporations in efficiently communicating with their multilingual customers, staff, and other stakeholders. Organizations may begin to regard language as a vehicle for development and a method of effectively migrating into new markets using LangOps.

“A decentralized, fragmented, and siloed approach to language translation services simply doesn’t work anymore,” said Vikram Nagaraj, global delivery partner manager at Microsoft. “For corporations like Microsoft, there’s a need and a desire to serve multilingual communication cross-functionally and operationally beyond customer service.

What LangOps can do

LangOps is to textual AI what DevOps is to software. Companies and organizations may comprehend and handle multilingual data with LangOps. LangOps provides seamless communication with your worldwide consumer base.

Software is used to consume everything. However, it is now software with data, or AI, that is the most significant game changer. Half of this data is textual, which is always multilingual in the end. Every company should understand and interact with its worldwide consumers, but only a handful have the structure and technology to do so.

LangOps is made up of cross-functional and interdisciplinary teams. Similar to what DevOps achieved for software development in large organizations, LangOps strives to enable AI applications, particularly machine translation, to provide a backbone multilingual technology which other business functions can dock into. LangOps becomes the multilingual fabric which brings together all kinds of linguistic applications, with the goal to enable best-of-breed multilingual content for any stakeholder in organization processes.

LangOps controls the company’s linguistic assets, including high-quality multilingual content, domain knowledge graphs, and enterprise-specific words. These are used to create and maintain LangOps’ most powerful tools, such as:

  • Language models for categorization
  • text analytics
  • neural machine translation (NMT)
  • semantic data layers
  • terminologies
  • other language processing applications

Language agnostic

Textual applications, such as chatbots, knowledge extraction, or even an apparently basic product search, are always created per language. That may quickly become too expensive. As a result, many businesses will only comprehend their clients if they speak their language, which is usually English.

LangOps provides a platform that isolates strings from their meaning. It employs multilingual language models that can evaluate, translate, and create text in various languages. Knowledge is codified once and disseminated in several languages.

Companies using LangOps leave no customer behind, organizations leave no stakeholder behind, and eGovernment leaves no citizen behind. LangOps promotes inclusion and interoperability.

Coming back to the name “LangOps” – if we are saying Language Operations is language agnostic, is that not a contradiction?

Globalization

In a recent Forbes Technology article, council member João Graça emphasized that LangOps should be the next paradigm in globalization. Serving global markets is no longer about transmitting translated content but rather about allowing firms and organizations to engage with their stakeholders in whatever language they speak.

NMT is reaching human parity in several fields and language pairings as a result of algorithmic advancement, processing power, and data availability. Quality estimation and linguistic knowledge guide specialists to portions that need human correction. LangOps has a tremendous impact on translation costs, time, and quality.

Why is LangOps so important?

A recent poll conducted by CSA found that 76% of consumers prefer content in their own language, despite the low quality of these translations, indicating that customers want enterprises to talk to them in their own language. About 40% of people indicated they wouldn’t purchase from a company if it didn’t provide services in their native language. Clients develop negative impressions of a company frequently because of their encounters with the customer service or support staff. Since there are now so many translation methods accessible, it is no longer plausible to argue that communicating with someone who speaks a different language is prohibitively costly.

Pure AI technology, on the other hand, is restricted in its capacity to grasp the whole spectrum of unique inquiries. Regardless of the communication component, whether it is legal compliance, marketing, or onboarding new customers or recruits, AI must recognize numerous regional nuances and sensitivities. There have been problems in the past with AI chatbots being toxic, and this is because pure AI translation is taught on datasets scraped from the internet.

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So what can we do?

The answer is combining scalability with a nuanced approach to language translation rather than depending exclusively on translations from basic AI chatbots. This is made feasible by combining an AI-based system with human editors who work on continuously updating translation algorithms according to a market’s or country’s linguistic preferences, resulting in a hybrid translation method. Consequently, a few competent editors working behind the scenes have built a reliable system that can effectively react to any question at scale in a timely manner.

LangOps would be a strong superhero if translation could be outfitted with AI-powered technologies.

LangOps breaks down the typical compartmentalized approach to create a strategy that ties together all of an organization’s language efforts. More than 86% of respondents to an Unbabel survey felt that a centralized LangOps team handling all translation and localization operations in their firm would be extremely or very beneficial.

With cutting-edge technology, LangOps provides more than enough bang for your buck by making the process of adding languages faster and more efficient. A stunning 90% of decision-makers feel that a centralized LangOps platform would be a cost-effective option capable of doing more with less.

What are the main challenges and risks of using LangOps?

The needs have been adequately met by conventional approaches, such as language service providers and translation management software. However, these methods are not facilitating companies´ worldwide expansion. The biggest challenges to expanding a business in more languages are:

The talent gap

Retaining talent may be difficult, whether you are an outsourcer offering multilingual assistance or an enterprise sourcing in-house. Today’s agents must be proficient not just in language but also in technology. These two prerequisites might be challenging to discover in tandem.

Nonetheless, highly experienced multilingual speakers may undertake critical job duties besides customer service, making them wise long-term commitments. As a result, companies that can recruit and retain these exceptional employees may want to keep them on staff.

The cost of multilingual customer service

According to a survey done by Execsintheknow and Unbabel, Japanese is the most expensive language to cover, followed by German, French, and Chinese.

In decreasing order, these are the 10 most expensive languages to apply properly:

  1. Japanese
  2. German
  3. French
  4. Chinese
  5. Korean
  6. Dutch
  7. Arabic
  8. Spanish
  9. Russian
  10. Portuguese

According to the survey respondents, the reasons for high coverage prices are divided sharply between the East and the West. Asian languages, particularly Japanese, tend to be more expensive due to cultural expectations, as clients want native speakers to handle their inquiries. In contrast, high expenses for Western and Nordic languages are typically driven by the higher cost of living in the countries where those talent pools are sourced.

Companies, therefore, must direct their native-language resources where they will have the greatest impact. As the online market share for less-served languages grows, these companies face a difficult decision. Offering a limited range of multilingual services will increase the opportunity cost over time.

Customer service has a new focus

To ensure a smooth and productive LangOps deployment, your LangOps leader must clearly understand the results they expect from the solution – in other words, the intended ROI.

Every company employs a different yardstick; therefore, your organization will have its own set of KPI improvements to define success. Here are a few objectives we’ve seen organizations set (and achieve) with LangOps:

  • Increase multilingual customer service
  • Shift from predetermined hours to 24/7 worldwide support
  • Shorten the time it takes for a contact center to respond
  • Improve the quality of service
  • Lower the cost per agent
  • Improve specific language net promoter scores (NPS)

One stumbling block some businesses face is a tendency to think too narrowly about what LangOps can achieve and the range of problems it can solve. A corporation, for example, may take a LangOps approach to a tactical level and say, “We have a significant backlog of inquiries in French and German, therefore let’s use this to enable our English-speaking agents to solve those tickets.”

That is a valuable use case, but to successfully deploy this technology and get the most bang for your buck, you must think wider. Don’t be scared of the change that LangOps can bring; instead of focusing just on lowering ticket backlogs, how can LangOps help you to consolidate operations and generate overall cost efficiencies?

A localization team, for example, may employ a LangOps method to become more efficient and scale beyond its own workforce. Instead of devoting all of their time to repetitive translation, some employees would submit translation comments to assist in iteratively training a machine translation solution to more precisely reflect brand-specific terminology. This transition may also provide the human resources department greater leeway in making hiring decisions based on technological and subject-matter competence rather than just language fluency.

What LangOps means for companies to run this new field properly

Your business must take two critical actions to prepare for LangOps deployment. First, you must choose someone to be in charge of this procedure.

The second step in getting started with LangOps is to assess the existing translation and localization initiatives taking place inside your company. Use the framework for people, processes, and technology to address pertinent questions such as:

  • People: Who is in charge of our translation/localization efforts? Localization efforts are now being carried out in-house as part of an existing team or as a separate department, or you may outsource them to a translation firm.
  • Process: How will we implement the delivery of translations for marketing efforts, customer service correspondence, and other similar purposes? At this point, you should be on the lookout for any bottlenecks in the process, as well as any instances of duplication or unnecessary work that may be streamlined or removed altogether.
  • Technology: What is our current technology stack for language translation? This includes both translation tools and the applications with which they interface, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, content management systems (CMS), and conversational messaging platforms.

After evaluating those three pillars, you may realize that your translation and localization efforts lack a single owner or are plagued by unconnected, decentralized procedures that waste time and resources. You may also realize that you lack the necessary technologies or that you are juggling too many software suppliers.

What can LangOps achieve and add to a company’s success?

LangOps facilitates a company’s rapid expansion into new markets, the cost-effective addition and management of languages, and the consistent production of high-quality translations at every point of contact by centralizing all translation and localization operations. For a company, this means having real insight into and command over how language is used across the board.

Here are a few benefits of incorporating LangOps into your business strategy:

Using LangOps might reduce costs. More than 90% of businesses believe a unified LangOps platform might help them do more with less money.

Centralized LangOps is valuable. More than 86% of respondents from a MultiLingual survey think it would be beneficial to have a central LangOps team manage all of the organization’s translation and localization work.

For effective international business planning, LangOps is crucial. The majority of respondents (over 90%) believe that LangOps has the potential to be either extremely or very significant to their company’s approach to the global market.

Rapid adoption is expected, and the market is optimistic about it. Of those polled, 52% expressed such enthusiasm for LangOps that they want to have a solution in place within the next six months.

Extending the use of LangOps beyond customer service

Quick returns may be seen in customer service when using LangOps, but it doesn’t imply the technology is limited to that department. As a tool, LangOps may help businesses streamline operations and save costs. LangOps is most effective when used as part of a company-wide strategy that includes both human and automated translation processes. In order to fully obtain the potential of LangOps, it is vital to go beyond the traditional customer service department. People resources, product management, marketing, and more may all reap the rewards.

In the realm of human resources, for instance, LangOps may have a significant impact. By combining a LangOps system with a central HR department for globally distributed workers, the platform’s user base may expect more openness and accountability. Employees may attend the same class to hone their abilities and get feedback in their native tongue. Processes are refined, and users are given more visibility and agency thanks to the transparency and control offered by a well-implemented LangOps approach. A company that has offices in several countries helps boost communication between departments.

Creating opportunities for overall business improvement

With such a broad range of possible applications, it’s a no-brainer that investing in a LangOps strategy may result in improved organizational experiences, better scalability for diverse departments, and consumer experiences. Having the correct LangOps leadership in place and understanding which areas of a business require process improvement are sure-fire approaches to building a successful plan.

With LangOps, language will no longer be regarded as an impediment to corporate growth.

LangOps is a good thing and important for our industry’s future though it might not be the ultimate answer. Because 42 already is.

Arthur Wetzel lives in Berlin. He is a Strategic Advisor at greatcontent and is a member of the LT-Innovate Board in Brussels.

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