One of the most invigorating aspects of my work is connecting with people. I recently attended the Association of Language Companies (ALC) Summit in Las Vegas, NV, where I met with colleagues, leaders, and friends from across the language services industry. We (finally!) got to network with people who have only existed in the Zoom universe… until now!
Hannah Fazendin, our Director of Operations, joined me at the ALC Summit. After networking with others who do this kind of work, Hannah said, “It was fascinating to connect with language service companies – some larger than INGCO International, some smaller – and find that we share similar joys, frustrations, and values.” And I couldn’t agree more! As we talked about the challenges facing our industry – and our world – we dove into the idea of “coopetition,” a way for us to collaborate, leverage our collective strengths, and deliver services that help solve problems pervasive in society today.
Trust is one of those issues – it affects us all, regardless of industry, role, or geography. The violence, unrest, divisiveness, and uncertainty of the last few years has had a detrimental impact on the way we engage with others, especially those who are different from us. During my session, I shared how the language services industry is combatting this trust crisis, bridging the gap, and changing the way people communicate in the global marketplace. We can do this best when we lean into coopetition, integrate our greatest assets, and build trust – with one another, our teams, and our clients.
It was an honor to share my passion for this topic, and I enjoyed hearing other perspectives on how we pave a path forward. Here were some of my biggest takeaways:
We need to amplify our voices. Did you know that the language services industry is bigger than the music industry? You wouldn’t know it based on public understanding and acknowledgement of what we do, but it’s true! As leaders in the language services space, we need to better articulate what we do, why we do it, and how it impacts millions of people around the world – whenever and however we can.
Our work is crucial. There are many specialties within the language services industry – translation, interpreting, localization, live/simultaneous, remote, hybrid, over-the-phone, on-demand, and more! – but each plays an important role in providing people with access to information. With every interaction, we change lives. During the Summit, we heard from Code Name Johnnie Walker, an Iraqi interpreter, and Navy SEAL, Jason Tuchen, about their experience with troops on the frontlines. Their gripping story brought tears to our eyes, and reaffirmed for me why we do what we do.
Technology is incredible, and people are too. It’s no secret that technology is transforming every aspect of the human experience. It allows us to connect across borders and enables on-demand translation, but experts reiterated again and again that technology cannot and should not replace human translators. It can help us do our work more efficiently, drive consistency, and support our linguists, but human review is critical to retaining cultural nuance and linguistic accuracy that technology can’t do on its own.
Opportunities abound in the Education industry. School districts are becoming increasingly diverse, with more than 450 languages spoken in schools across the United States. Many administrators are unsure how to address the scope and complexity of language needs in their districts. Language service companies can help bridge the gap between educators and families by translating and interpreting key information and helping families more actively engage in their students’ education.
Certifications and policies are key to delivering quality. INGCO International was ASTM certified in 2021, but many of our clients don’t know what that means or why it’s important. Many sessions focused on the value of ASTM certification and how to effectively use our certification to reinforce our commitment to quality, accuracy, and industry standards. Fun fact: INGCO International is 1 of only 8 language service companies with this certification!
Collaboration with ASL companies. Translation and interpreting for ASL is much different than for spoken language, and we haven’t always worked collaboratively to create solutions that work for both. We heard from several ASL companies about their willingness and desire to partner more effectively to deliver accessible solutions across the spectrum of language services.
Client feedback is gold. When our clients are willing to share their experiences, we should take note! Andy MacGregor, INGCO International’s Sales Executive, took this session to heart, “Customer insights can lead to growth opportunities when we ask the right questions and take meaningful steps towards greater collaboration – both with the client and our industry partners.”
Whew! That was a lot. It probably goes without saying that I doubled my to-do list during my time at the Summit. Industry leaders brought forth insightful observations and challenged us to think of ways we can help people better understand the world around them through translation and interpreting. I left inspired to do just that.
If your organization is ready to communicate more effectively with global audiences, we’re here for you! Visit our website to learn about our translation and interpreting services – and reach out to get started.