On 22–24 November 2017, the Nordic Translation Industry Forum (NTIF) (link: www.ntif.se) was organised for the first time in Finland. The Swedish power ladies Ann-Marie Colliander-Lind and Cecilia Enbäck have organised the conference six times before this. The conference has toured different Nordic cities and Helsinki had already waited eagerly for its turn.
The conference attracted more than 170 attendees from 30 countries to Finland as well as numerous exhibitors and a record-breaking number of sponsors. According to the organisers, the participation of and support from Finnish language service companies was exceptional compared to some of the conferences organised in other countries. It is particularly pleasing to hear this as Finnish Language Service Providers (SKY) was one of the sponsors of the event.
This year’s conference focused on stories.
In her colourful presentation, the Keynote Speaker Katleena Kortesuo discussed stories in communications. Crisis communications is based on identifying one’s own story and role and on the skill of turning the direction of the story without becoming a victim.
Finnish-born Pirkko Trpevski Kyllönen shared the story of how she started her career as an interpreter and ended up as one of the owners of an entire communications group. Språkservice Sverige AB, owned by Pirkko and her family, is, with its revenue of 50 million euros,
currently the leading provider of interpreting services in Sweden.
Pirkko held her presentation in Finnish and Swedish, with the mainly foreign conference attendees relying on the simultaneous interpreting into English. Many attendees pointed out that this was the first time that interpreting was heard in an international translation industry conference – even though we operate in this field ourselves!
The uniqueness of multi-language and multi-channel communications was further enhanced by the fact that, at the same time when Pirkko’s presentation was interpreted into spoken language, it was also interpreted into the Finnish sign language and drawn into a visual presentation. Spoken interpreting was organized by Delingua and sign language interpreting by Mireal, with sketchnoting carried out by the amazing Linda Saukko-Rauta.
The presentations later in the afternoon concentrated on funding. Transfluent’s Jani Penttinen described the project the company carried out this year, in which it raised more than 600,000 euros as crowdfunding from 200 investors to support its operations. Danish Henrik Lottrup told us how he had decided to sell the majority of his company to the private equity fund CataCap, with the aim of boosting Languagewire’s growth.
On Friday, we heard stories from buyers. Leading localisation professionals from two internationally operating companies emphasised the significance of localisation in the early phases of product development and called for Language Service Providers to adopt the role of a Language Solutions Partner. PayPal’s Salvo Giammarresi described his difficulties in getting his company’s top management to devote time to the contemplation of globalisation from the point of view of multilingualism and gave tips for sales arguments. In her presentation, Polar’s Tarja Karjalainen cast light on the secrets of software translation. As a former translator, Tarja emphasised the role of a professional translator and encouraged everyone to automate processes as far as possible without automating the actual translating, i.e. creative work.
AAC Global’s Leena Peltomaa and Kaleidoscope’s Klaus Fleischmann held a joint presentation on translation quality and its assessment. As translation quality is usually about more than matters of opinion, the speakers proposed a uniform scoring to be adopted in assessments. The point of assessment is not to analyse a single translated text that is considered poor in some aspect but to provide constant feedback to improve the service provided.
On Friday, NTIF also offered the first-ever “competition” between new interpreting applications. Challenging interpreting technology companies is a welcome step as too little is still known about different applications. The Interpreting Software Challenge was seized by six bold companies, with the Finnish start-ups Túlka and YouPret among them. The audience chose winners in different categories and all six participants were praised for their efforts to transform the industry.
Another new feature was the innovation panel that convened as an off-conference workshop for the entire duration of the main conference. The panel was moderated by Semantix’s Head of Translation Innovation Robert Etches who, as a wake-up call for the attendees in the conference’s grande finale, urged them to prepare for the future – that is already here. Why are we doing so little when there is so much happening? Will we need the keyboard in ten years’ time? Will anyone buy the current translation memory applications in five years’ time? What is the story of the future of the language service industry like? According to the panel, the collection of data on the customers’ needs, semantic memories as a replacement for translation memories and a joint innovation fund for minor language service companies, among other means, might help in tackling future challenges. We could also start by simply deciding not to content ourselves with offering mainly identical services with slightly different prices.
Once again, NTIF delivered on its promises. Meripaviljonki’s dance floor was filled with people dancing to ABBA classics, but the conference itself offered a more novel approach: innovative presentations and inventive ways of executing the programme.
Finnish Language Service Providers (SKY) thanks the conference for visiting Finland. There are many conferences in the industry but only one NTIF! Kiitos!