Listen on :
Localisation Project Manager, Binance
Chief Human, Translate By Humans
This month, our CEO, Alpi Mantry, got to talk to Vlad Suzki, who works at Binance as the Localization Project Manager. Binance is the world’s top blockchain and infrastructure company. It has the most popular digital asset exchange by volume and a suite of financial products.
Therefore, delve into this captivating story where languages intertwine, occupations evolve, and the marvels of localisation are revealed. Explore the rich tapestry of experiences, tribulations, and triumphs that have shaped Vlad’s extraordinary voyage, and learn why Binance was the ideal harbour for his localisation ambitions.
Hi Vlad, could you share the story of your journey leading up to your current role as the Localisation Project Manager at Binance?
Yes absolutely! It’s like a big roller coaster.
My journey into localisation began during my primary school days in Belarus. I attended a specialised school focused on the German language, which became my passion throughout my education. I immersed myself in German culture, visited Germany as an exchange student, and even pursued German studies at university.
However, after graduating, I unexpectedly veered away from German and instead embraced English. Can you imagine that?
A transformative experience in the United States through a work and travel program significantly boosted my English skills. Regarding job hunting, I discovered that German was low in demand compared to English, which had become the universal language for global business.
I started my professional career as a translator at a central bank in Belarus. Working alongside a team of translators, I honed my skills and learned the intricacies of translation. After three years of feeling more confident and proficient, I sought new opportunities in Moscow. It didn’t take long for me to land a job at Deloitte, a prominent audit and consulting firm, where I was exposed to advanced translation technologies and expanded my expertise over two years.
In 2010, during the aftermath of the financial crisis, a French bank sought assistance with translation and found me to be the perfect fit. I spent seven years as their sole translator, handling various corporate and investment banking projects.
Wow, seven years, that's a good long period, Vlad!
Reflecting on my voyage, I realised the importance of deepening my knowledge and expertise in the content I worked on, always striving to understand every aspect thoroughly.
While there were a few other positions along the way, my desire for new challenges led me to the crypto industry, where my true localisation tale began. Joining Binance in 2020 was a game-changer. With a vast scale of languages, numerous vendors, and a strong focus on leveraging technology, it has proven to be the ideal place for anyone passionate about localisation.
Glad that you've found fulfilment and enjoyment in your role, Vlad!
Looking back, I sometimes wish a native English speaker had reviewed my work, as English is not my first language. Despite the challenges, I remain committed to refining my skills and embracing the ever-evolving world of localisation. My journey has been filled with twists and turns, but I am grateful for each experience that has brought me to where I am today.
How do you determine which regions or languages to target for growth when dealing with a wide range of languages and regions?
Languages, countries, and markets are ultimately business decisions, and business people make them. As localisation professionals, we provide valuable insights and data to help inform those decisions. We can analyse which languages would work best for a particular market and offer recommendations based on our expertise. While there are around 200 countries worldwide, covering them all may seem like the apparent goal. However, even in Europe, there are complexities to consider. Take Switzerland and Belgium, for example. While one might assume German is Switzerland’s primary language, it’s actually French, followed by Italian.
So, weighing various factors and considering the potential return on investment is crucial.
For instance, launching Urdu for Pakistan may seem logical, but if most of the population is already fluent in English, it might yield a different result.
By conducting thorough market research and considering factors such as the target audience's language preferences, cultural nuances, and business goals, you can make informed decisions about which language to prioritise in each region. It's all about finding the right balance and ensuring your localisation strategy aligns with the linguistic landscape of your target country or region.
How do you measure or define your ROIs at Binance?
Measuring ROI in localisation is no easy feat, but armed with data, we unlock valuable insights that shape our decisions. Setting up the infrastructure to capture the correct data was a challenge in the park. It required careful configuration and backend development to ensure we could track the metrics we desired. Thankfully, Google Analytics comes to the rescue, even without the need for extensive technical resources. However, it’s important to note that the default language data in Google Analytics can be misleading. Just because someone’s browser is set to French doesn’t necessarily mean they’re using the website in French. So, we made some clever tweaks to ensure we got accurate and meaningful data.
With our data-driven approach, we see how each language on our platform is truly utilised. We uncover the significant languages that dominate usage, identify the specific products and content that resonate within each language community, and stay up-to-date with evolving preferences. This invaluable insight guides our prioritisation efforts. It helps us determine where to allocate resources, which languages and regions to focus on, and whether adjustments need to be made to our localisation strategy.
That's a great piece of advice, Vlad, for marketers in the localisation industry who want to effectively measure the return on investment (ROI) for their expenses.
Can you share a notable project you successfully managed and provide valuable advice for field newcomers?
Let me share an exciting project that may have been small in scale but delivered remarkable results. It was a unique localisation endeavour focused on tailoring a product for a specific market, going beyond language alone. One crucial aspect was adapting the registration and KYC process to meet the distinct requirements of each country.
Imagine, if you’re operating in 30 countries, you need 30 customised products. We embarked on a comprehensive cross-functional exercise involving UI localisation, product adaptation, and rigorous testing. Collaborating with business stakeholders, we fine-tuned the KYC flows for every market, not only linguistically but also in terms of the product experience.
To ensure quality, we engaged individuals who knew the process first-hand. Their valuable feedback helped us identify and rectify numerous bugs, significantly enhancing the overall process. This project spanned multiple languages and markets, making it a monumental effort, but the great outcome made it all worthwhile.
It’s a shining example of how meticulous localisation, thorough testing, and real-world user insights can deliver exceptional results.
What key tools or technologies have played a crucial role in your localisation experience and brought significant benefits?
When it comes to the tools and technologies that have made a significant impact on our localisation journey, there are a few standout champions that deserve mention.
First and foremost, we have the mighty TMS (Translation Management System). This powerful tool has been a game-changer for us. It helps streamline our translation processes, ensuring efficiency and accuracy. But that’s not all—TMS also brings immense cost savings through TM (Translation Memory) leverage. Proper configuring allows us to identify perfect matches and avoid unnecessary expenses. It’s like having a secret weapon in our localisation arsenal.
Speaking of leverage, let’s remember the power of CMS (Content Management System) in user interfaces. Integrating our CMS seamlessly with the TMS has been a revelation. With this dynamic duo working hand in hand, we can effortlessly manage multilingual content, eliminating the need for excessive human involvement. The result? Tremendous leverage and reduced reliance on hiring additional personnel for language coverage. It’s a win-win situation.
Of course, choosing the right tools is crucial. The market offers various CMS options that can fit your specific needs. If you have the budget and resources, developing your own CMS might be viable. However, leveraging existing solutions is a wise choice for those with more limited means. The key is finding a system that aligns with your existing technology infrastructure and seamlessly integrates with other systems. Remember, the right tools can make or break a localisation project.
But let’s not stop there. We must pay attention to the importance of context.
Context is king in the localisation realm. With it, our efforts can stay strong. That's why a solution is crucial to pull context automatically. It ensures that our translations are accurate, relevant, and resonate with the intended audience.
So, research and implement the best context solution for your specific setup.
So finally, let’s not underestimate the power of testing. No matter how advanced our tools maybe, the human element remains essential. We, as humans, create content and translations. To truly understand what our users will get, we must see and test it first-hand. Only then can we ensure that our localisation efforts hit the mark and provide a seamless user experience.
The right mix of TMS, CMS, context solutions, and thorough testing can propel your localisation tale to new heights. Embrace these tools, master them, and watch as your localisation efforts succeed.
Impact and Future Outlook:
That's amazing, Vlad! To wrap things up, what's your view on AI translations?
AI translations have revolutionised the localisation landscape, leaving us in awe of their incredible speed and capabilities. But when it comes to the age-old debate about humans versus machines, I advise finding the sweet spot where both can shine.
Machines excel in certain areas, so exploring how they can enhance your translation process is worth exploring. Testing your content with machine translation can provide valuable insights. Machine translation can work wonders for longer texts or content with predictable structures. It can save time and even cut costs in some cases.
However, it’s essential to exercise caution regarding UI translation and localisation. User interfaces require a human touch—a nuanced understanding of culture, context, and the intricacies of language. Machines, despite their remarkable capabilities, may struggle in these areas. UI translation requires precision and accuracy to ensure a seamless user experience, making human involvement indispensable.
Machines thrive when they have ample context to work with. The machine translation engine can often provide accurate results if you have a substantial amount of content, say a hundred pages. Moreover, these engines are customisable, allowing you to train and fine-tune their performance according to your needs.
Leveraging AI translations can be immensely beneficial, especially for longer texts with predictable structures. It’s a powerful tool to accelerate your localisation process and save resources.
However, the human touch remains irreplaceable when it comes to UI translation and the nuances of cultural adaptation. So, strike a balance that harnesses the strengths of humans and machines to achieve the best possible outcome for your localisation endeavours.
That was really insightful, Vlad!
We hope our conversation with Vlad Suzki was engaging and gave you valuable insights into the fascinating world of languages. Vlad’s skills in conducting market research, using data-driven decision-making, and balancing AI and human translation are indeed, exceptional. We believe you picked up valuable tips and tricks that will help you succeed in your localization journey, isn’t it?