The concept of intelligent content will be critical to the future of information management. Content that is structurally rich, reusable, and includes metadata to identify what it contains is the wave of the future. Thought leaders in several fields, from marketing to technical communications and life sciences, are currently talking about intelligent content and what it will mean for the way we manage translated content in the future.
This type of content is also projected to have a big impact on localization efforts. To understand exactly how intelligent content will affect localization, we must understand what defines effective intelligent content.
Structured, Semantic, Reusable
According to Ann Rockley, content pioneer, and founder of information management firm The Rockley Group, intelligent content must display these three basic characteristics in order to be effective.
Properly structured intelligent content must have details about what the content contains, an idea sometimes known as metadata. Metadata is often defined simply as “data about data.” It is especially important to have metadata when content needs to be searchable: a good example of metadata is found when you query a search engine like Google. The descriptions under the links to the actual page results are known as meta descriptions.
Semantic content is not described based on its actual characteristics, but instead on its meaning. For example, if you were writing a content outline, instead of noting that an important section of text should be included in yellow, you might note instead that it needs to be highlighted.
Reusability is an important attribute of intelligent content because people use many channels to consume content in today's age of technology. By its very nature, intelligent content can be used across several different kinds of technology or publishing platforms, which means translation professionals have to be sensitive to how reusable their localized content is.
Improving Localization Efforts
One way that intelligent content will help the localization process is by allowing parts of the content to be divided more easily. Because the content is structured, it can be broken down into smaller chunks that together make up a larger file or page. For example, imagine a website where a sidebar section needed to be localized. Without intelligent content, a localization team would have to send the entire page off to be translated, but thanks to the rich structure of intelligent content, it is possible to only translate this one “chunk” of your page.
By reducing the amount of time that needs to be spent translating content, companies will obtain a greater ROI from localization costs. Time to market will also be significantly decreased when using intelligent content, which is ideal for agile development projects that need to quickly push out localization updates during sprints. Even better, the structure of intelligent content means that you can also save on the design process (aka desktop publishing or DTP), the process of laying out translated content. With intelligent content, you only need to have the text translated: your translation partner does not necessarily have to work on the layout of the text. After the translation is complete, the text can be automatically arranged by a style sheet, which can save a significant time and money.
Most importantly, people who read intelligent content will have a much easier time understanding it, even if that content wasn’t originally written in their native language. When translators have the benefit of intelligent content structures, they can do a much more accurate job of localizing the materials they are working on to promote comprehension, particularly with the aid of translation memory software.
Intelligent content should continue to alter the current localization landscape for the better by streamlining the management and transmission of information. As the technology continues to develop, keep an eye on the latest intelligent content trends and tools to ensure that you can efficiently apply this concept to meet your localization requirements.