What is LangOps?


What is LangOps? - A definition by Transphere

Table of Contents

LangOps, also known as Language Operations, is the brainchild of Unbabel’s co-founder, João Graça. In broad terms, LangOps is the efficient operationalization of the localization process. It is usually carried out across an entire company. Its job is to communicate with all the stakeholders effectively.

The need to grow

Covid is gone and globalization is largely back in force. And as you well know, it brings alongside it many opportunities:

  • Attracting more customers.
  • Reducing operating costs (outsourcing to India, the Philippines, etc.).
  • Employing international talents.
  • Getting foreign investment opportunities.

Yet, for enterprises to develop international markets, the first thing they have to consider is the language itself. 

The value of language

According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, 72.4% of consumers were more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Moreover, 56.2% of respondents indicated that the ability to get information in their language is more important than price. 

Airbnb and LangOps: A masterclass

Airbnb used LangOps across its operation to grow globally. It started by localizing its website in many languages. It made it easier for hosts and guests who speak different languages to use the platform. Let’s look at the results.

According to Airbnb’s own 2016 data, the company had listings in over 191 countries and 34,000 cities. That’s a remarkable level of global reach.
But it doesn’t stop there. According to the company, hosts that offered their listings in more languages received more bookings and revenue.

After all, without language on your side, you’ll face tons of challenges. For example:

  • How can you communicate with foreign customers?
  • How can you manage new local employees?
  • How can you change your marketing and PR strategies?
  • How can you quickly follow regional contract requirements and obligations?

And many more.

A woman enjoying her AirBnB trip.

As companies grow beyond their hometowns, managing language has become important for success. Language is more than just communication. It also affects culture, relationships, and trust. Language Operations (LangOps) are the strategies and practices companies use to handle language in the best way.

Let’s look at them in more detail.

1. Localizing content for relevance and impact

One big way LangOps helps companies expand is by breaking down language barriers. When a company moves into a new country, there are language differences to deal with. Translating words is not enough, it requires content localization.

Localizing means adapting your value proposition to connect with the target country’s culture. That includes your products, services, materials, communication tools, etc. In doing so, you ensure that your message fits what your new potential customers expect from you. It’s the first and essential step to build your brand in this new country.

LangOps looks at linguistic details and visuals that matter in each culture. By customizing content, companies gain an advantage over those with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Localizing makes the content feel more relevant and eye-catching in each market.


LangOps vs. Localization

The difference is subtle but meaningful. Localization means changing a product to better fit the local language and culture. This is done so users in the new market can have a better experience with the product. 


LangOps is the combination of localization and AI, and it is the (suggested) next evolution of localization. It brings together all language projects within an organization. In this way, the process of adding new languages becomes more efficient.

2. Developing a global customer base

Effective LangOps empowers enterprises to connect with a global customer base. When customers interact with a company in their native language, they feel valued and understood. This personalized experience can significantly impact brand loyalty and customer retention.

LangOps also lets companies adapt their marketing to match different regions and their habits. Companies can cater to local likes and cultures. Customizing can help companies seem local in foreign markets, leading to higher trust.

3. Navigating regulatory and legal challenges

Expanding into new markets also means navigating complex regulatory and legal landscapes. The LangOps team has an important job. They help companies deal with legal issues when going into new countries. The team precisely translates legal papers, rules documents, and product rights.

Translation mistakes in these documents can lead to severe consequences. From non-compliance to contractual disputes. An effective team helps companies follow local laws and mitigate risks.

Uber's lack of legal adaptation

Uber is a globally recognized ride-hailing service, but in some countries, it has encountered regulatory problems.

Some countries have laws that require cab services to meet certain licensing and insurance requirements, and Uber’s operating model may be at odds with local laws, leading to conflicts with local governments and the traditional cab industry.

An Uber driver.

4. Enhanced market research

Language plays a crucial role in understanding consumer preferences and behavior. By leveraging it, you can study multilingual data. It enables you to gain valuable insights into customer feedback and market trends. With this knowledge, you can improve your expansion plans. It enables you to offer customized solutions that connect with the local audience.

5. Fostering employee collaboration and engagement

Beyond external communication, LangOps also facilitates internal collaboration and employee engagement. In multinational companies, language diversity can make effective teamwork challenging.

It is important to have a language training program. Over time, it will improve the linguistic integration of your teams. When your employees can collaborate seamlessly, without boundaries, productivity, and innovation will thrive.

6. Artificial intelligence

One core component of language operations is the use of AI to ease the transition process.

Using only basic AI chatbots for translation has problems. Their translations can lack nuance and accuracy. But combining AI with human translators can be very effective for LangOps.

The solution is a blended approach. Sophisticated AI translation tools are used together with human editor teams. The human editors supervise the AI system and continually update the translation algorithms. This allows the algorithms to keep improving and adapt to the language needs of each market or country.

With this collaborative AI and human system, translations have more nuance and precision. Any issues can be addressed quickly by the skilled human editor teams. These teams work behind the scenes to ensure quality translations.

The Benefits of Language Operations

How can you start implementing Language Operations?

To start, you will need the right leaders. Hiring a LangOps Officer requires input from customer service, localization experts, and technical specialists. LangOps Officers need technical skills to manage communications in multiple languages.

The LangOps Officer’s job includes finding and using AI translation tools. They train models based on the company’s language needs. They also measure success in improving translations and teach others these skills.

After hiring the LangOps Officer, start building the team. The size of the language operations team depends on the company’s goals. If implementing LangOps across the company, managers or small teams for each department may be needed.

Consider the tech used in each department and the company’s LangOps goals. Maybe the company wants to improve communication across departments. Or centralize business processes. LangOps makes this possible.

If this degree of complexity is not your cup of tea, you can always leave it to professionals.

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