Cloud computing and collaborative translation

How did cloud computing impact translation? Does collaborative translation technology really simplify and improve processes to meet expectations?

As defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Cloud Computing is the “online, on demand, self-service access to virtualized and mutualized resources”. In simple terms, it allows for the use of data stored in a shared server. This special form of internet-based management, often criticized but  mainly considered as a major improvement, enables firms to easily leverage resources that are more flexible and cost-effective, allowing for better pricing and an increasingly scalable business model.

How did cloud computing impact the translation business? Does collaborative translation technology really simplify and improve processes to meet the expectations in the industry?

Although the translation industry suffers from an overall low tech environment and from a conservative approach of change, cloud computing did have a major impact on its structure, process, organization and market. Data is centralized and resources dispatched and translation can be made online, at any time. In a context of fast growing creation of content, the general trend on the translation market is producing more, working faster and keeping the quality up. Cloud computing is therefore a relevant tool to help meet the expectations on the market, creating economies of scale, fast scalability and simultaneous workflows, as well as providing increased transparency throughout the entire translation process.

Not only has way of working been modified, but roles have also been readjusted: linguists, and sometimes consultants or experts, act as a community and the project manager responsibility has shifted from controlling to coordinating and promoting exchanges within the community.

Finally, it important to note that even though agencies and freelancers have greatly benefited from this new technology that is making translation easier, quicker and cheaper, cloud computing still has to put up with serious flaws.  These risks include security or data integrity, and they are magnified by issues related to confidentiality policies: imagine an Italian company that works with an American language services provider whose server is localized in India. Which local policies would prevail?

The advantage of data dematerialization also represents a drawback as it forces actors in the industry to depend on a third party, and may lead to instability within the organization. Having to rely on a good Internet connection might also be a problem at times.

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