Vigdis Eriksen-1As more people around the world access the Internet, English will become less prominent as the language of choice. Laurel Delaney, author of “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably,” interviewed Vigdis Eriksen on web translation. Read part one of this two-part interview on About.com Import & Export.

Web globalization, a strategy that conveys cultural, linguistic and business information to meet the needs of a target audience in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual world is the next imperative for businesses, allowing them to gain traction and relevancy as a means to foster social engagement and enable online purchases. As more and more people access the Internet, English will become less prominent as the language of choice. Which leads me to my interviewee today, Vigdis Eriksen, who leads Eriksen Translations, a leading provider of multilingual services in more than 100 languages. Here, Vigdis discusses how technology has played a factor in the growth of her business, why web translation is critical for American companies to consider and what steps you need to take to prepare.  This is part one of a two-part interview.

By Laurel Delaney via http://abt.cm/1oGiG3p

Laurel Delaney: Thank you for being here. When did you start Eriksen Translations and why?

Vigdis Eriksen:  I was born in Norway and came to the U.S. in 1977, where I began my career as a freelance translator. As business grew beyond my capabilities as a single translator, I founded my company Eriksen Translations, in 1986, specializing in the Scandinavian languages.

When I started Eriksen, companies were just beginning to use the Internet to conduct business. As people began to expand into the global marketplace, the need for translation exploded, and we were there to fill that need.

The growth in technology at the time had an impact on language as well, as it created the need for new terminology to express concepts and products that had not previously existed. One of our early jobs included coining new Norwegian terminology for the first HP printers.

LD:  Since you started your business, how has technology and the Internet played a factor in the growth of your business, especially on the translation front?

VE:  While the proliferation of the Internet has exponentially increased the volume of content to be translated, it has also drastically changed the way translators work. Over the years, translation tools have become more and more sophisticated. Where I once conducted business using a typewriter and fax machine, we now utilize Computer-Assisted Translation tools to save translated sentences into a client-specific database that can be reused to deliver projects faster while ensuring consistency and quality. The Internet provides unlimited resources on any subject matter 24-7. Digital communication tools such as Skype, along with a robust Translation Management System, allow us to conduct business seamlessly with linguists around the globe. Translators’ skill sets have changed accordingly. They now need not only to be proficient in their language and subject matter but must also master the technology.

LD:  Just so everyone understands and is on the same page: What is web globalization?

VE:  Web Globalization is a strategy that encompasses two processes—Localization (translation and adaptation of a website to fit the target audience) and Internationalization (the process of building the website so that it can be easily localized).

These are some of the activities done during the Internationalization and Localization of a website:

  1. Adapting the text
  2. Translating the text
  3. Modifying or creating new graphics
  4. Changing colors and modifying the layout, if needed
  5. Modifying tables, forms, data fields, databases

LD:  Why the rise of the importance of web translation and why is it critical for American companies to consider?

VE:  According to Common Sense Advisory’s (CSA) research, in the past two years the economic potential using online communication has risen from $36.5 trillion to $44.6 trillion. And only a third of online content is in English.  This presents an incredible opportunity for growth into new markets around the globe. To take advantage of this tremendous potential, companies must speak the language of the market they’re targeting.

CSA research has shown that 55 percent of international visitors gravitate to, spend more time at and prefer to buy from websites in their language. So translation is critical when you want to conduct business with the world.