Interview with a translation technology expert: Kevin Bruner

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kevinJoin us in getting to know localization engineer Kevin Bruner.

Tell us about your background and what led you to becoming a localization engineer.

My background is in Software Development. I have a Bachelor of Business Administration – Management Information Systems from the University of Houston. I was a developer and consultant for years in Houston before moving to Portland in 1997. I joined my first translation agency through development connections in 2000, where I helped to build technology to improve the translation process. While there, I discovered I had a knack for solving globalization, internationalization and localization problems. As a result, my role in the company expanded to Localization Engineering & Development Manager. In 2012, I came to VIA as Director of Technology and Development. Here, I use technology to help improve the connection between our customers, suppliers and internal teams. For example, I oversee development of our cloud-based platform which is always evolving to provide easier access for our customers.

What value does technology bring to the translation and localization process?

Technology plays a huge role in the localization process by providing tools to increase translation velocity. In the beginning, we used desktop CAT tools to increase the speed and consistency of translation. These days, modern server- and cloud-based solutions ease the overall workflow, so more content can be translated at the same cost. This helps both the client and the end user to have a better experience, as well as to reduce language barriers.

What types of technologies do you find to be the most useful to your clients and why?

Our cloud-based platform for translation project management streamlines the process for our customers and internal teams. We’ve increased our Project Managers’ output while maintaining on-time delivery and quality metrics, without adding resources. Our tools and technology automate many aspects of a traditionally manual process. This lets our PMs focus on providing customer service that is second to none. If a PM has information available to them without having to search for it, then they can anticipate their client’s needs and proactively solve problems.

What is one trend that you’re seeing in the industry that you think translation customers should be aware of and why?

I see progress being made with regard to machine translation as a very important step for VIA and our industry as a whole. Translation technology that is capable of doing the bulk of the work quickly and cost-effectively will help globalize the world and bring us all a little closer. In particular, there is a new industry focus on machine learning and translation in the form of Neural Machine Translation (NMT). NMT is closing the gap on one day having a technology that can perform translations even more quickly and accurately. It is still early in the evolution of the NMT, but there are some great pioneers in the field improving this technology each day. At VIA we will continue to monitor these advancements and evaluate where we can put them to use for our customers’ benefit.

What is your ideal day outside of the office?

The ideal day for me outside the office is boating, hiking or fly fishing one of our rivers or lakes in mid- to late-summer in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a good way to unplug from technology and connect with nature.