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Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into localization strategies reshapes how companies communicate across borders. At the recent XTM Live 2024 conference, a panel titled "The Human-Machine Synergy: Understanding AI's Effect on Global Teams" provided a deep dive into this transformation. This blog captures the essence of that discussion, focusing on the shifts in team dynamics, role evolution, and customer expectations within the localization industry.

Transforming the Localization Landscape

The fear that AI will replace humans in the localization industry has been a lingering concern. However, Antonio Tejada, a panellist at the event, challenged this notion by highlighting the evolution of roles within the industry. According to Tejada, traditional translators are transitioning into broader language expert roles. This shift amplifies their linguistic skills and leverages their cultural insights, enhancing localized content's quality and effectiveness.

Moreover, the integration of AI has expanded the talent pool beyond traditional linguists. New experts are emerging from different industries, such as lawyers or sports experts, with skills that complement machine translation technologies, such as Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE) and Neural Machine Translation (NMT). These developments shift the focus from mere translation to comprehensive localization management, where strategic, creative, and technical skills are paramount.

The Role of AI in Localization

Discussing AI's longstanding presence in localization, Anthony Ash pointed out that while AI applications like Google Translate have been around for years, recent advancements in Generative AI have brought new capabilities to the forefront. These include the seamless integration of AI tools into existing workflows and the development of more sophisticated models that can handle complex localization tasks with greater accuracy and efficiency.

Ash elaborated on the technological shifts, noting that AI is now a boardroom topic, not just a technical one. This elevates the strategic importance of localization within global enterprises, transforming it into a key component of global business strategy rather than just a backend process.

Changing Stakeholder Dynamics

With AI's increasing influence, the stakeholders' profile in localization has diversified. New stakeholders often lack a linguistic background but bring fresh perspectives on ROI and KPIs, focusing more on output quality and time efficiency. This shift influences how localization technologies are deployed and tailored to meet varying content standards across different types of media.

Ash and Tejada commented on these new stakeholders' changing expectations and priorities. While traditional localization clients prioritise linguistic accuracy, new entrants emphasise efficiency, responsiveness, and customer satisfaction metrics like CSAT and resolution times. However, despite these evolving priorities, the underlying expectation of quality remains steadfast.

Balancing Human Expertise and Machine Efficiency

A key takeaway from the discussion was finding the right balance between human expertise and machine efficiency in the localization process. Tejada advocated for a collaborative model where humans and machines complement each other. Humans should guide and teach AI systems, ensuring quality control and adding nuanced understanding that AI alone cannot achieve. Meanwhile, AI can handle repetitive tasks, scale operations, and provide analytical insights that humans can use to refine strategies.

The Future Role of AI in Global Business

In their concluding remarks, both panellists agreed that AI should enhance businesses' ability to produce multilingual content more efficiently and across more platforms. This not only helps businesses reach a wider audience but also allows them to engage more intimately with customers globally. Antonio Tejada summarised the discussion with a forward-looking statement: "Investing in AI should enhance quality and strengthen brand presence globally. It’s not just about replacing human effort but amplifying it to achieve scale and efficiency that were previously unimaginable."

Wrapping Up

The insights from the XTM Live 2024 sponsor panel underscore AI's transformative impact on the localization industry. By redefining roles, introducing new stakeholders, and balancing the strengths of humans and machines, AI is setting the stage for more dynamic, efficient, and culturally connected global communication strategies. As businesses continue to navigate this changing landscape, the synergy between human ingenuity and machine efficiency will be crucial in harnessing the full potential of global markets.

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