The Global Decoder

In the translation industry, Mark Hagerty knows that conducting global business requires conversations across languages, countries, and cultures. Here, the CTO of TransPerfect discusses the increasing importance of companies understanding—and capitalizing upon—the language of technology.

Few sporting events bring people together across cultural lines like the World Cup.

Millions flock to support their countrymen as they take to the pitch and confront the world’s best players. And whether you call it football, soccer, or calcio, everybody understands what it means when the ball soars into the opposing team’s net.

Yet in today’s plugged-in digital landscape, additional technologies are needed to help people fully engage with each broadcast, stat, and story. This is where companies like TransPerfect—a language service and technology solutions provider—prove invaluable. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, TransPerfect chief technology officer Mark Hagerty developed a technology platform called GlobalLink to quickly transfer documents from game reporters to preapproved translators stationed all over the world. The documents were processed, translated, and transferred back to the event site hosted by Yahoo, and available for viewing within thirty minutes. Utilizing GlobalLink’s technology eliminated time-consuming manual tasks like project management and file preparation, and it allowed multilingual content to be available almost instantaneously—an enormous value-add for followers of the World Cup.

“It’s not about one office or person….If everyone is working together, you’re going to have success.“

Hagerty’s ability to see beyond what many would have considered simply a translation challenge helped make the event a success from behind the scenes. “It was an effective solution because it completely changed the old-school process where people would just send emails around,” Hagerty says. “You didn’t have the ability to get things done as quickly—particularly when doing high-quality human translation.”

And that feat of imaginative engineering wasn’t Hagerty’s first large-scale success at TransPerfect. During his decade-long tenure with the company,
he’s established a strong culture of technology-driven innovation, led by the idea that in order to be competitive in the translation industry—or any industry
for that matter—it’s imperative to not only develop technologies, but to think more like a tech

Revenue in 2014, up from $37M in 2003

Technology employees and contractors in 2014, up from 1 in 2003

GlobalLink technology customers in 2014

Number of technology products in 2014

Technology revenue growth annually

Hagerty applies this philosophy to his role in several ways. First, like many successful tech leaders will tell you, it’s not always the newest tools that will create the best results—it’s the people who work behind the scenes to ensure everything happens. Machines have yet to achieve anywhere close to a perfect level of accuracy in translating between languages, which means that human translators remain at the core of the translation business. At TransPerfect, translators are located throughout numerous time zones, ensuring that assignments can be completed around the clock. The GlobalLink platform makes it more efficient to link with translators and reduces the need for emails and other manual tasks that decrease productivity. This allows for faster turnaround times, improved translation quality, higher productivity, and increased employee satisfaction.

“These large-scale global projects fit very well into our model because it’s not about one office or person. That approach simply does not scale,” Hagerty says. “Our GlobalLink platform allows us to have a team
approach to things, and that is what’s important. If everyone is working together, you’re going to have success.”

Still, technological innovation is key. When Hagerty first joined TransPerfect, technology was not a major priority. But since his arrival, over thirty tools have been developed to improve quality, automate manual tasks, and decrease turnaround times. And it’s not just translation-specific technology—the organization has also branched out with products like Trial Interactive, a platform that can help pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials.

“Technology companies are always trying to think of ways to be more efficient, to create something new that somebody hasn’t thought of yet,” Hagerty says. “If you think in those terms, there are things you can do that will further your success as a company.”
And the numbers clearly support that statement; by diversifying and developing multiple technology products, TransPerfect’s revenue has not only increased significantly more than the industry average over the last several years, but customers now select TransPerfect as an enterprise solution provider, not just a translation services vendor.

To maintain such growth across all the company’s diversified channels, Hagerty touts the importance of understanding when to outsource versus developing new tools in house. It’s a common downfall for any company to get caught up in the ego-driven mindset of always building its own mousetrap; the smart companies know when to innovate internally and when it makes more sense to maximize focus and partner with external service providers. 

For example, TransPerfect deals with large amounts of sensitive information for law firms, pharmaceutical companies, and financial organizations on a regular basis. So the company has partnered with information rights management (IRM) company Seclore, to handle all of TransPerfect’s encryption and data-centric governance. “Seclore has already solved the problem of information security—that’s what they do,” Hagerty says. “So we’re not going to build our own IRM, we’re going to partner with the company with expert technology and work closely with them to integrate its services into our product offerings.”

Thanks to his strategic mindset and ability to innovate, Hagerty has helped the company evolve into a world-class technology leader. Looking at the course and evolution of his work, he’s most proud of having a hand in creating technology products that have generated revenue and helped the company to become a true industry leader.

Today, TransPerfect translates millions of words and brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. Whether it’s making sure soccer fans around the world get their game stats quickly or enabling financial organizations to reach out to their multilingual customers, it’s the company’s focus on innovation and big-picture thinking that keeps
TransPerfect at the top of its game.

The 2018 World Cup is in Moscow. How do you say “Gooooal!” in Russian?