The following excerpts are taken from a LanguageLine(R) Conversation video interview with Richard Vass, Vice President of Customer Success for ELB Learning. You can view the entire interview with LanguageLine’s Scott Brown here.
According to Vass, ELB Learning helps organizations get their training online by giving them the tools to do it themselves or by doing it with them. They proudly claim 100 percent of the Fortune 100 as their clients.
Scott Brown: The 2020 Census revealed that America is becoming much more linguistically diverse very quickly; at the same time, the economy is becoming more globalized seemingly by the day. How have those shifts affected your business?
Richard Vass: We often have clients come to us who are interested in multi-language versions of their course-wear. We are not just producing English as the primary language. For any given course we might deliver for someone, there is often a requirement for Spanish translation. We have had as many as 16 language requirements for a single course.
We are doing a lot more with South America, in fact. China is also a market that is exploding with online learning. There has been a lot of need for that in the last few years and we are expecting a lot more in the coming years.
SB: Interesting. Work-at-home has also gained critical mass over the last 18 months. How has the work at home phenomenon influenced your business?
RV: It is a sweet spot for us. We have always been an organization to help with remote learning needs. We call that “asynchronous learning.” Synchronous means that a trainer is present, so asynchronous is when the learning is self-paced by the student.
We’ve seen a lot of need for online training. Whether it be a new sales initiative a company is rolling out or new product awareness that the entire enterprise needs to know about. We help with courses like that, and we’ve seen an explosion in our business I would say in the last 10 months.
SB: When and why did ELB Learning decide to offer translation solutions to your customers?
RV: I remember when I first partnered with LanguageLine, more than a decade ago, we were just starting to get requests for multilingual translations. So I found out that LanguageLine provided that service. We were working with Procter and Gamble. Everything we do for them has 12-plus language requirements. The same with PayPal. Once it started – once we were able to say “yes, we do offer localization and translation” – then things just snowballed.
SB: Would you say that eLearning translation has made you more competitive within the marketplace?
RV: No question. We would not be able to land the type of work we do without it. It’s a service that we have to provide in today’s marketplace as the world becomes flatter and our borders become more transparent. We are able to work together with resources from multiple countries, multiple language needs. We just could not be competitive without it.
SB: How much value do your customers see in having ELB Learning manage the eLearning translation process? In other words, why do you think customers prefer you manage eLearning translation instead of the customers doing it directly with a vendor themselves?
RV: It’s a lot of work. You’ve got the translation of the narration and the on-screen text. There is a lot to change, a lot to consider. There is a lot happening on that screen, so technically it can get very messy, very quickly. LanguageLine helps us clear all of that up. Our customers get that. And those who don’t, they learn it really fast.
We’ll say to them, we really recommend we use our language partners on this. They may say, “We’ve got the translators so we’ll just do it our own,” but I think 100 percent of the time we end up coming back to LanguageLine to handle the project.
SB: LanguageLine has supported ELB Learning for more than a decade. How has that relationship evolved over time?
RV: You know, it is one of those partner relationships that is really special for us. LanguageLine bends over backwards to take care of us. (They are) a partner for us that has been in the trenches with us, and has never left us holding the bag. They are always extremely conscientious and interested in providing service that will make us look like rock stars to our clients. You know, it just becomes a no-brainer. Every division of our company uses LanguageLine to provide all of our translation needs. It’s a special relationship, and we have been very grateful. Through the growth of their own company and ours, we haven’t noticed a hiccup at all in the level of service we receive.
SB: You are a very dynamic company. What excites you most about the eLearning space as you look ahead?
RV: All of the projections are that this industry will continue to grow, and the need for it will continue to grow, which is not surprising. Companies and organizations are still going to need to train their people. One of the things I love the most about my job is that you never know who you will be working with in any given day. We’ve done massive projects with the Air Force, with other branches of the military, we are really helping the country to achieve its security goals. And another day we might be working with a fast food company to provide better training on how to construct a sandwich. I get excited about what the needs are out there and how we can help contribute to them.
Also, virtual reality, for years, I’ve said that is the best way to learn. That is the gold standard for training and we are here now. We are at that point where virtual reality is affordable and it’s easier to develop and design. It’s becoming something that is accessible for clients, so I am excited to explore how we are going to handle that going forward and what the language needs will be.
SB: How can translation help ELB Learning thrive as the business landscape evolves? How can we help you get where you want to go?
RV: Every company wants to work with the sort of global clientele that we do. If you’re going to hang your shingle out there to provide a service or a product, you want the whole world to buy it. We are seeing that now as we become one of the biggest brands in the e-Learning industry. You just can’t compete without translation.
If I am going to sell cars, I have to include the steering wheel with the car because otherwise nobody is going to look at it. Translation is just as essential.
When clients ask, “What’s the level of your language translation?” We say that we actually work with a partner that has a tremendous depth and breadth of abilities within that space. So, I can only see as we continue to grow, our relationship with LanguageLine will continue to grow as well.