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As Content Volume Explodes, Machine Translation Becomes an Inevitable Part of Global Content Strategy
(Boston, MA) – Why should you care about machine translation (MT)? It’s simply a matter of numbers. There is far too much content being created and far too few translators or money to translate it all – or even a tiny fraction of it. Independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory contends that translation automation tools such as MT promise to increase the volume and accelerate the pace of words rendered into other languages.

“Translation strategies that rely on human output alone have already been overwhelmed by the explosion in content and the imperative to rapidly enter new markets,” says Don DePalma, Chief Strategy Officer at Common Sense Advisory. Findings from Common Sense Advisory show that if marketing, customer care, web, or translation managers are going to meet the needs of their many users, they will have to evaluate how to integrate MT into their global content strategies – regardless of the type or size of their organization.  

In the report “Trends in Machine Translation,” Common Sense Advisory explains the need for MT, discusses the major trends pushing it to be integrated into many more applications, and outlines the impact on organizations that should be employing machine translation.

”Machine translation was long characterized as a complex, expensive technology requiring a lot of computing horsepower. In 1956, if you wanted MT, you had to go to the United States Navy or to the KGB to get it. Today, the options for using MT ranged from desktop to in-house server to free online access,” explains DePalma. “The benefit of translation at consumers’ fingertips,” comments DePalma, “is the ability to read and act on otherwise inaccessible information. By adding MT to their content mix, they’ll lower the language barrier and open their companies to more global buyers.”

Trends in Machine Translation” outlines five megatrends affecting machine translation: 1) the burgeoning acceptance of machine translation; 2) the demystification around the concept and practice of MT; 3) the enterprise-enabling of the technology; 4) the development of an ecosystem around machine translation; and 5) its changing business model and economics.

Key findings from the research, which are detailed in the report, include:
  • Customer experience and engagement mandate more translation. Common Sense Advisory’s research has repeatedly shown that both consumers and business buyers prefer reading information in their own language. More than half of non-Anglophone consumers visiting websites use free online machine translation, either at a website or through an MT-enabled browser such as Chrome, to read or disambiguate English-language websites.  Without translation, the customer experience for international visitors to your website suffers.
  • The vast amount of content makes MT inevitable. Companies, government agencies, and the non-profit sector create vast amounts of content by the day, much of it meant to support the customer experience. The requirement to translate that information for other markets and constituencies has made the use of machine translation inevitable.
  • Over the next few years, every organization’s content strategy will rely on some type of machine translation. Displacing each percentage point of the current spending on human-delivered translation could double the number of words delivered in a foreign language through editing of the output by professionals. For post-edited MT, quality is already equivalent to human translation in many cases. Taking the next step to high-quality trained MT at microcents a word could increase translated content by orders of magnitude.
Adds DePalma, “It’s time for everyone to take a serious look at how machine translation fits into their content strategy for international markets.” Specifically, the firm anticipates the following industry trends and differentiators based on advancements in translation automation tools:
  • Buyers will integrate MT into their global content strategy. Content architects and strategists will determine where machine translation will work best for their enterprises. They will team up with localization departments and functional groups to maximize the delivery of usable information, both human- and machine-translated, to support the corporate globalization initiatives, for both employees and customers
  • Language Service Providers (LSPs) will incorporate MT into their supply chains. Faced with the cost of human labor and customer demand for more translation for less money, language service providers will find that they do not have a choice about using more MT in some or all of their practice. Some ambitious LSPs will develop MT expertise around specific domains, as some have already done around the travel and automotive sectors. With a customized MT engine already in hand, these LSPs will offer powerful service and technology packages backed up by domain area expertise – and strong differentiation.
  • Suppliers will continue investing in making MT easier and better. Developers of MT software still have a long way to go to make the technology fully enterprise-ready with quality acceptable to all. The market will consolidate further as buyers look for more support, faster innovation, and incremental progress toward absolute quality.
The report includes a list of MT quality improvement tools, factors affecting MT quality, and the associations aiming to develop standardized formats for exchanging translation content and metadata. For more information about Common Sense Advisory’s research, visit http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com.

About Common Sense Advisory
Common Sense Advisory, Inc. is an independent research and analysis firm specializing in the on- and offline operations driving business globalization, internationalization, localization, translation, and interpretation. Its research, consulting, and training help organizations improve the quality of their global business operations. For more information, visit: www.commonsenseadvisory.com or www.twitter.com/CSA_Research.
Submitted On: 11/21/2011

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