Medical

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GALA New York 2016

Elena Arau | 06th April 2016

An insight into the leading translation and localisation conference: GALA 2016

The Globalisation and Localisation Association (GALA) annual conference is arguably the most important language related business event in our industry and the team here at Conversis is always excited to attend.  This year, five of us travelled to New York to take part in the 4-day event.

As a first-timer at GALA, I must say I didn’t know what to expect, but knowing that there is an industry body that administrates our trade, having done so for over 13 years, I thought, is a sign that we are part of a growing, emerging industry. Experiencing the intensity of the workshops and the overall content of our sessions showed just how much this industry has evolved over the past decade.

From technological advancements to regulations and standards, everything was covered during the 4 days and made me realise that all these industry break-trough’s have been developed with the same accuracy we pledge in our translations.

The opening keynote was all about technology advancements. IBM showcased their latest technology, and if you haven’t heard of Watson, it’s definitely worth a browse. It is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Just picture this: If you are a medical body, rather than going through books and manuals when preparing a diagnosis, the Watson memory could provide all the possible scenarios and this way the human error could be minimised. The programme evaluates all possible meanings and determines what is being asked based on supporting evidence and quality of information found. Could this technology work for translations as well? Maybe as a tool to further facilitate and automate translators’ work? Read more about IBM's Watson here and here.

One of the most popular workshops was about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). With an overwhelming attendance, the workshop aimed to point out the main problems marketing professionals face when it comes to Google analytics and how important it is to stay on top of the latest updates and algorithms for an optimised search engine. Multilingual SEO was a widely iterated term throughout the conference, specially coming from buyers and that is definitely a sign of a new epidemic in market demand. For more information on multilingual SEO, have a look at our own blog post on it.

Some other insightful sessions revolved around standards and regulations. One question still lingers in my mind - Do we need special quality standards for medical translations? Since the accuracy and QA processes are particularly rigorous for this segment of the translation industry should we also have new quality standards in place? Lives could depend on the quality of medical translations so maybe a different set of QA norms should apply.

On another note, GALA hosts a film fest every year, where members of the industry showcase short fun movies on different aspects of our trade. We are the proud winners of the Excellence Award for Best Assembly this year and you can watch our video here.

It was also great to share experiences and ideas with our peers and the communication flow was supported by a lot of fun networking events by GALA. We all seem to face the same challenges, so it was a great opportunity to find out how are colleagues are dealing with them.

All in all, I think a few very strong points were made during the conference and hopefully we will witness most of the new trends materialising in the course of this year. My take is that, regardless of the technological advancements, people are still at the heart of this industry. Machine translations should work with people, enhancing the role of translators, not replacing it. Standards and regulations are there to be constantly updated and bolstered to serve as relevant guidelines.

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