What We Learned at Lilt Ascend 2020

by Drew Evans
3 Minute Read

After an inspiring day of speakers, panels, and conversations, Lilt Ascend 2020 has come and gone. First and foremost, thank you to everyone who attended our first-ever all digital conference - we couldn’t have done it without your support! We also want to send a thank you to all of our incredible speakers: Loïc Dufresne de Virel, Tom Davenport, Alessandra Binazzi, Kyunghyun Cho, Paul Buckley, Shaun Johnson, Paula Shannon, John DeNero, and Spence Green. 

The conversations were insightful and meaningful, touching on localization strategies, the future of AI and work, and even dove deeper into the importance of leadership within the industry as a whole. We also shared the newest product updates here at Lilt, all while aiming to foster new connections and ideas through discussions in smaller groups. Here are just a few of the valuable insights that we picked up at Lilt Ascend 2020.

AI and the Future of Work

One of the important conversations happening within the localization industry centers around artificial intelligence and the importance of technology as a way to amplify the power of human ingenuity. At Ascend, we heard from academic experts Tom Davenport, Kyunghyun Cho, and John DeNero about just how important AI really is.

Tom Davenport, Distinguished Professor of IT and Management at Babson College, explored the background of automation. And while manual jobs and services jobs have started to become automated over the years, Tom says that the vast majority of knowledge work jobs (doctors, lawyers, translators, etc.) will stay. Automation will only augment those jobs to help provide productivity gains - or as he says, “smart humans working alongside smart machines as colleagues."

Kyunghyun Cho, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Data Science at New York University, and John DeNero, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder at Lilt, dove deep into the applications of language processing and machine learning within the translation space. While a lot of progress has already been made, they spoke about the exciting new opportunities in the works now.

Localization Strategy

Ascend 2020 looked deeper into the strategies and thoughts of localization leaders pushing the industry forward. The conference centered around the question of how to localize at scale, especially in a world that has and is becoming more digital by the day. We invited a few experts from leading companies like Intel, Canva, and ASICS that have successfully transformed localization at their respective companies..

Alessandra Binazzi, Head of Global Localization at ASICS Digital, spoke about how ASICS defines its localization strategy. While there are various means through which localization can be done (i.e., human translator, machine translation, etc.), Alessandra and her team map out the importance of quality vs. scale to better understand the content types and their required solution. For example, due to its high volume yet high quality requirements, product descriptions can be run through a human-in-the-loop model where human translators leverage machine translation to improve productivity. Their membership content, on the other, is produced at such low volumes that machine translation may not be a necessity.

Paul Buckley, Localization Project Manager at Canva, spoke about his experiences building, managing, and ultimately overcoming localization at scale. Starting with just two languages and moving to almost one hundred is no easy task, especially at a company that’s constantly growing and changing. 

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Ascend 2020 brought us some memorable moments, fantastic stories, and takeaways that we hope everyone can learn from and apply to their own work. To watch Ascend 2020 on demand, click here to access all of the sessions. We can’t wait to share what we have in store for the rest of this year and into 2021!