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May 09, 2014
Posted by: Mark Flanagan, Executive Vice President, Vistatec

VistaTEC and hosted the 5th Annual Silicon Valley Localization UnConference at Salesforce’s Training Center in San Mateo, California. Hosted by Scott Schwalbach, VistaTEC’s Director of Global Solutions, and Teresa Marshall, Director of Localization at Salesforce, this free event brought over 100 professionals from all aspects of the localization business.

​For those not familiar with the unConference model, it is a unique event in which there is no preset agenda, no presentations, no sales pitches. It is roundtable discussions on current localization issues that affect your daily lives. Participants bring to the table their questions, their ideas, their past experiences and their solutions in a non-competitive environment. The Silicon Valley unConference is the pulse of the area’s localization efforts.

Building the Agenda is known as Controlled Chaos, as participants put forward their ideas and questions. This year over 75 topics were suggested for discussion. Once all the suggestions were noted, the entire group voted on topics that become the agenda. Participants then broke out into 4 concurrent roundtables and 32 roundtable sessions were run throughout the day long event.
Some of this year’s hot topics were:

  • Translation Quality — What is “Good Enough” and what determines it?
  • Website Localization: Best practices, CMS systems, and frequency of updates. How to determine what languages to build into your site
  • User-Generated Content — Crowdsourcing Quality Management, Best Practices, and Community Management
  • Metrics — What metrics should be used to make effective business decisions on localizing various content (Product, Marketing, Web, KB, etc) and are they all the same.
  • Video — What are the localization challenges and how did you overcome them
  • Agile — How do you build in an agile localization process with a developer team whose only interest is in building the product?

What makes the unConference unique is that all participants are at an equal level with an equal voice. Sage advice is given by those who have been in the localization industry for 2- years or more (Yes Tex, I’m looking at you), but fresh ideas were abundant from those that just graduated from programs such as those offered by the Monterey Institute.

There was certain commonality in every discussion:

  • Client Localization Teams need executive level support to be successful
  • Evangelizing your services to your stakeholders is an ongoing process
  • Leverage your vendor’s expertise
  • Get in early to minimize pain points of localization deliverables
  • Leverage metrics to ensure what you do is the right thing

At the end of the day participants were energized to go back to their prospective companies and work to improve process, educate stakeholders, and to continue to network.