think! Interpreting 2018...Celebrating 5 Years of Collaboration, Challenges and Change



By Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen

Published January 22, 2018


InterpretAmerica heads to Boston in March for the fifth installment of think! Interpreting at the Globalization and Localization Association's (GALA) upcoming annual conference. For those unfamiliar with the organization, GALA is the world's largest industry association for language service companies.


Every year, GALA gathers together language service companies from all over the world to take stock of the industry, show off new products and technology, explore market trends and catch a glimpse of where the future of global multilingual communication is headed. The conference takes a deep dive into the business side of our profession and provides invaluable information and insight into big-picture issues. For the past five years, we've been privileged to be able to promote the interpreting profession at GALA through the think! Interpreting content track. 


Introducing interpreting to the language services industry

GALA's target audience is typically not the individual translator or interpreter, yet the information shared there can be highly relevant to our work. When InterpretAmerica was first invited to help highlight the interpreting side of language professions at the 2014 conference, we really didn't know what to expect. Up until that time, our primary experience had been with the annual interpreting-related conferences run by professional organizations and our own summits. We had gained a certain high-level perspective of the interpreting world. After our first GALA conference, our eyes were opened to how big the world of language services really is. It became our mission to deepen that understanding and to do whatever we could to promote and protect interpreting on that larger stage.


What began as an experiment with the first think! Interpreting, has evolved into a fruitful partnership with GALA where we get to promote the importance of interpreting in the larger language services industry. In return, we get a close-up look at the most up-to-date macro business, technological and international political and economic forces that shape our field.


As interpreters, it's easy to stay esconced in our own corner of the interpreting profession. We focus on the professional associations, interpreting services companies and conferences that cater to our particular area, whether that be medical, legal or conference. We can lose sight of the fact that the language services industry (and yes, it is an industry) is dominated by translation and localization (about 75% of our $41 billion industry). 



Interpreting has long been overlooked as a smaller, cottage or mom-and-pop profession inside the larger industry. Now, interpreting is having its moment. The smartphone and almost universal access to borderless video and audio communication has flipped our once brick and mortar profession and pushed it into the cloud. As the technological barriers to real-time, instantaneous communication fall, the clamor for on-demand interpreting has grown and spread, expanding out into many new arenas and taking on different shapes and forms. Suddenly, the big companies are paying attention. Their clients are asking them to solve their interpreting needs. New remote and tech platforms are proliferating and new players are entering the interpreting side of the field.


As interpreting navigates this tumultuous, transformative time, we need to pay close attention to how broader trends develop. Because in the end, we are the one who will be affectedOnly interpreters know what it takes to do the job we do. We need to make our voices heard in all the arenas where decisions are made that impact our working conditions, wages and job descriptions.


Making our voices heard is a key aspect of the partnership we have with GALA. Through the think! Interpreting content track, we've gone from simply introducing interpreting as an important part of language services, to providing in-depth information about what is required to provide quality interpreting services. We've broken down the distinct business model required to recruit, hire, train and retain qualified interpreters, as opposed to the model for a typical translation project. Our speakers and interpreting-related exhibitors have highlighted best practices, innovative technologies and successful partnerships between translation and interpreting companies. Along the way we've demonstrated many of the new remote interpreting platforms and business management tools. And, as  always, we've done everything we can to raise the profile of interpreting inside the language services industry, and worked to promote and protect the indivdual interpreter's job.



The elusive end-user

This year's conference theme is Delighting Global End-users—A Mutual Goal for Mutual Success. The conference website states that:


End-user experience has become the guiding principle for many multinational companies. In response, language service providers must also prioritize the end-user; delighting customers must become a mutual goal, since with shared goals comes shared success.

Anyone who has ever tried to organize an interpreting conference knows how elusive it can be to include end-users in the program. They are usually the absent, and mostly invisible recipient of our services. It's not easy to get patients, defendants, judges, politicians, police or hospital administrators to attend our conferences, even though they depend on the language services we provide.


GALA 2018 is chock-full of sessions that target the end-user experience, providing specific strategies for language service companies to improve their services. The think! Interpretingsessions (below) have been crafted to take companies past an initial introduction to "how to" provide interpreting services. They are designed to take attendees into the weeds of what it really takes to set up interpreting services that both safeguard high quality interpreting working conditions and result in happy end-users.

For those interested in attending, there's still time to catch the Early Bird discount if you register by January 31. 


We'll either see you in Boston, or connect via our social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin during and after the conference. 


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Let us know what you want us to report on.


think! Interpreting and Interpreting-related Sessions

Panel Discussion: Whitelabeling - How to Provide Remote Interpreting Services without Building Your Own Platform-Barry S. Olsen (InterpretAmerica), Matt Conger (Cadence), Giovanni Donatelli (The Language Group)


  • Delivering Language Services to Travelers, Wherever, Whenever, and However it Suits Them-Marcus Vaigncourt-Strallen (whym.global Ltd.)


  • The Remote Interpretation Center: A Breakthrough Model for Providing Interpreting Services for Large-Scale Events-Andrey Moiseev (FIFA Worldcup Russia 2018)


  • How to Reconcile High Interpreting Working Standards with Great Customer Experience-Muntsa Cuchí (CPSL)


  • Master Class: Remote Interpreting Platforms Everywhere! Which One Do I Choose?-Barry S. Olsen (InterpretAmerica)

Additional interpreting-related sessions:

  • Globalization Preparedness: The Changing Demand for Language Services and Technology-Don DePalma (CSA Research)


  • KnowledgeFest: If I Knew Then What I Know Now ...-Kristin Quinlan (Certified Languages International), Don Shin (1-Stop Asia), Britta Aagaard (Semantix)


  • Using Voice-Over and Visual Media to Speak the Local Language Anywhere-Marcus Graham (GM Voices)


  • Bridging the Industry Talent Gap-Moderator: Mike Klinger (Anzu Global) Panelists: Adam Wooten (MIIS/AccuLing), Jeff Beatty (BYU/Mozilla), Veronica Costea (MCIS), Oleksandr Bondarenko (Translatel)


  • Balancing Global Customer Success with the Speed of Now: A Conversation with Global Content Experts-Moderator: Dave Ruane (Xplanation) Panelists: Sonia Zamborsky (Marriott), Patrick Nunes (Rotary International), Adrienne Caputo (Rapid7)



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