Capita trouble with ALS
Capita has been in the press this week for the 'wrong reasons', (see The Guardian and BBC), due to some high profile problems relating to its recent acquisition of translation services company Applied Language Solutions (ALS) (see here). ALS has a five-year contract with the Ministry of Justice to provide translation services for the courts from a network of ‘2,000 experienced and qualified linguists’. The accusations against the company are numerous and we won’t air them again here. But Capita has told us that it is ‘determined to get the service running at a level that meets the MoJ’s requirements, provides transparency of opportunity for linguists and fully supports the police and court service.’ It is also throwing ‘extra management and operational resource’ at the problem.
ALS offers its services through a hosted self-serve machine translation (MT) system called SmartMATE. This provides 'translation memory integration, glossary management and an online, multi-user editing environment, all combined in one online platform'. We suspect this is also where there will be opportunities for Capita to IT-enable and streamline the translation process.
What this issue shows to us is the risks attached to Capita’s recent acquisition spree, and stretching itself that little bit too far away from its ‘knitting’ i.e. back office business process services. Translation services for the courts is always going to be a contentious and highly visible outsourced service. In pursuit of new growth opportunities Capita needs to make sure it doesn’t steer itself off-piste.