Why Moravia Doesn’t Invest in Translation Proxy
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Why Moravia Doesn’t Invest in Translation Proxy

Why Moravia Doesn’t Invest in Translation Proxy

Translation_Proxy_Pros_and_Cons

I was recently asked if Moravia uses any translation proxy technologies. The short answer is no, we don’t, for two main reasons. First, we don’t see translation proxy as the best technology for website localization. Secondly, our customers don’t really use or demand that technology.

In fact, an increasing number of organizations approach us to help them migrate away from a translation proxy as their needs have outgrown their initial setup and thinking. Now for the longer answer…

Translation proxy is not bogus technology. However, it’s also not the panacea it’s touted to be these days. We at Moravia firmly believe that translation proxy is, at best, a quick fix. You can use it to quickly launch international sites just so you can fix revenue leakage while you set up a robust localization program. But is it a long-term, reliable and efficient solution? We don’t think so. Here’s why:

The Problem Is Not with the Proxy…

One of the big claims of proxy providers is that it completely automates translation management, does away with human involvement and makes translation easy. Let’s examine this claim beyond the typical sales talk.

Here’s how a proxy typically works: The proxy server picks up new content from your website when it’s produced, channels it through the translation management system (TMS) where it is translated and then serves the translations when users request it from different locations in the world.

Now you’re thinking, “What’s wrong with what proxy providers are telling us? It really seems like all I have to do is press a few buttons.”

Well, you know what they say about something that’s too good to be true. Proxies can make life difficult for companies in several ways.

  • Do you really want to do translation project management? Because that’s what translation proxies will do: take project management from professionals and place it in your lap. Not that this is a bad thing, per se. If you’re willing to do it and love the idea of handling content for 20-plus languages in perhaps as many locales, go right ahead.

    But just know that project management can’t be wished away. Someone has to do it — and with translation proxies, that someone will be you, the translation buyer. You will be regularly required to make many linguistic decisions and participate more closely in translation than if you had an LSP managing the function.

    For instance, you’ll have to decide which resources you want to use for the translation, as well as which strings are translatable and which are not, deal with various linguistic issues, handle all translation memory (TM) updates, figure out which TM the content relates to, and so on.

  • Beware the proxy provider who is, well, just that. Translation proxies are projected as a technological solution to a service requirement, but there is so much more to it than just technology. If your proxy provider has no specialist knowledge in TM and various other complex linguistic processes associated with translation, the result will be vastly messed-up glossaries and TMs. We know because we have been called in more than once to clean it all up, costing the translation buyer a lot of money and time.

The problem here is not really with proxy technology, but rather with tasking the proxy with the responsibility of managing and overseeing a complex creature such as the TMS. The system does not and cannot maintain itself. Keeping a TM clean and updated is a detail-oriented, tedious and necessary task — and you can’t wish it away.

Also, translation is a human-intensive task and although large parts of the process have been automated, you can’t entirely do away with human involvement.

It’s not that you as a translation buyer can’t manage a TMS or handle project management tasks, but you must understand that this is a full-time job. Even at medium-sized firms, it usually takes one or two people to oversee the localization function.

Of course, large enterprises — usually at Localization Maturity Model (LMM) Level 4 and above — often have dedicated departments to run localization, but guess what? They don’t use proxies. They would never trust their mountains of content to a proxy provider.

OK. What Else?

You should be aware of a couple more issues when signing up for a proxy solution:

  • Original content creation isn’t possible on country sites. Proxies might work fine as long as you’re authoring in one language and translating into another. But what if your content authoring is not all that centralized or you want to create original content for campaigns specific to a local market? A proxy simply won’t allow for it. It basically converts global marketing into a top-down approach: create content at headquarters and push it down to the different country units. There is no scope for original content creation for local markets.
  • Prepare for a buggy translation memory export. Some proxy providers claim they will not lock down your translation memory, but in reality it sits on their own server. TM exports are often possible, but expect your leverage to go down. We’ve seen examples of how buggy some of these exports have been, and it’s not an entirely smooth ride.
  • There are no real URLs. Basically, your translated proxy site is something like a ghost site — it really exists only as a set of string replacements. In the words of a provider, “It’s just a layer.” What implications does this have at the individual page level? These pages don’t get to have their own keyword-rich, localized URLs. This can put a dent in your SEO.

It’s no coincidence that translation proxy providers are marketing heavily to newbie buyers. A lot of companies today are facing a situation where their product might have gone global too quickly, sometimes before they’re prepared for it. Or their websites haven’t been set up for translation, causing many internationalization issues. In all such scenarios, the lure of the translation proxy is understandable.

Yet, we’d strongly advise any company that is serious about global marketing to think many times before choosing a proxy, if for no other reason than that the way out is messy. You can automate and speed up the translation process without having to depend on a proxy solution, but it will take more than punching a few buttons.


Comments

Gert Van Assche

10/16/2015

Very good analysis. There is only 2 reasons to opt for a translation proxy service: 1. you don’t want to look for the translators yourself. But for this you can as well work with an LSP. 2. you don’t want to modify databases at server side. Nothing compared to the many disadvantages, that you explained so well.

Peter Farago

10/17/2015

*EASYLING: Disclaimer: This response is written on behalf of Easyling, a white label Translation Proxy provider. Let us add our perspective to the blogpost, as we deal with proxy-websites on a daily basis, while our understanding is that Moravia does not have a translation proxy offering. MORAVIA: “The Problem Is Not with the Proxy…” *EASYLING: Agreed. MORAVIA: “Here’s how a proxy typically works: The proxy server picks up new content from your website when it’s produced, channels it through the translation management system (TMS) where it is translated and then serves the translations when users request it from different locations in the world. Do you really want to do translation project management? Because that’s what translation proxies will do: take project management from professionals and place it in your lap.” *EASYLING: Using a translation proxy doesn’t define the TMS / CAT tool to use. Relying on the Project Management expertise of the LSP, doing it yourself or looking for a fully automated workflow is your choice, just in case of any other translation project. The proxy means only one thing: if your existing CMS system is not localization ready and can’t provide the content to be localised, the proxy can do it for your. Instead of in-house engineering effort, use out-of-the-box, existing solution. MORAVIA: “You will be regularly required to make many linguistic decisions and participate more closely in translation than if you had an LSP managing the function. […] For instance, you’ll have to decide which resources you want to use for the translation, as well as which strings are translatable and which are not, deal with various linguistic issues, handle all translation memory (TM) updates, figure out which TM the content relates to, and so on. […] If your proxy provider has no specialist knowledge in TM and various other complex linguistic processes associated with translation, the result will be vastly messed-up glossaries and TMs. ” *EASYLING: It has nothing to do with the Translation Proxy as a technology. It’s a freedom of choice for the customer. Should Moravia offer a Proxy Solution, their linguistic expertise could be made available for portals / clients where proxy is a great match. 
 Of course, large enterprises — usually at Localization Maturity Model (LMM) Level 4 and above — often have dedicated departments to run localization, but guess what? They don’t use proxies. They would never trust their mountains of content to a proxy provider.” *EASYLING: Our experience on the market is different. There’s no one size fits for all; proxy is just a technology, part of the available translation tool ecosystem. Knowing it allows to make informed decision on when the onboarding and operation is more cost effective than undergoing a full website re-engineering, including content connector development/implementation/update costs. MORAVIA: “Original content creation isn’t possible on country sites. […] Proxies might work fine as long as you’re authoring in one language and translating into another. But what if your content authoring is not all that centralized or you want to create original content for campaigns specific to a local market? A proxy simply won’t allow for it.” *EASYLING: Proxy does allow it. Just keep using your original CMS system for content authoring; and the proxy workflow for translation, and to handle the presentation logic. (e.g hide the blog, etc) see https://www.easyling.com/blog/create-different-versions-different-regions-website-translation-proxy/ MORAVIA:”It basically converts global marketing into a top-down approach: create content at headquarters and push it down to the different country units. There is no scope for original content creation for local markets.” *EASYLING: Please book a session with us, we show you how you can do it. MORAVIA: “Prepare for a buggy translation memory export. Some proxy providers claim they will not lock down your translation memory, but in reality it sits on their own server. TM exports are often possible, but expect your leverage to go down. We’ve seen examples of how buggy some of these exports have been, and it’s not an entirely smooth ride.” *EASYLING: It’s about the actual proxy provider / implementation, not about the proxy concept. Please check ours. MORAVIA: “There are no real URLs. Basically, your translated proxy site is something like a ghost site — it really exists only as a set of string replacements. In the words of a provider, “It’s just a layer.” What implications does this have at the individual page level? These pages don’t get to have their own keyword-rich, localized URLs. This can put a dent in your SEO.” *EASYLING: It’s simply not true. The proxy pages are as real as any cloud based, databased driven CMS. It’s as SEO friendly as the original source site is. We are happy to suggest and offer an open, realtime debate on the Proxy, sharing our experience and expertise. Assuming good faith and intention for being transparent and correctly informing the audience, we do hope this reply will be shown in the comment session as it is. Peter

Vijayalaxmi Hegde

10/20/2015

Thanks for your note Peter! It’s heartening to note that Easyling differs in some aspects from what we noted in the post. I’d love a discussion to get to know how you fare better than some of your peers. (I’ll get in touch with you offline to arrange a call.) The fact is all the issues we flagged are real pain points with customers of proxies, though there may of course be some differences between specific solutions. And, this is true about project management woes as well as SEO issues and everything in between. At the same time, I agree with some of the points you’ve raised like “Using a translation proxy doesn’t define the TMS / CAT tool to use.” True, but the current marketing hype around proxies suggests otherwise and is misleading. And that’s partially the aim of this post: to cut through this hype and give buyers a more realistic view of what they’re getting into. They need to understand that proxy doesn’t “solve” translation for them. I also agree with you that a major issue is one of implementation rather than the proxy concept per se. Very true. In fact, I start my post with the caveat that proxy is not bogus technology, and it has its uses.

 

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