E.g., 09/29/2020
E.g., 09/29/2020

The Future of Translation Is Automation

By: Rikkert Engels, CEO & Founder - Xillio BV

Localization is undergoing a massive change. Many technological inventions like Neural Machine Translation (NMT) are discussed at length, but the biggest change is more subtle and has an even bigger impact.

Let me explain: One of the favorite pastimes of any industry is ranking. For LSPs this is no different. I studied the top 100 to find out what differentiates the top from the rest. Is it quality, is it price, is it relationships, is it sales power, is it ability to deliver, is it investments into NMT? Probably all of the above are important, but there is one overwhelming difference between the top 5 and the rest of the field. The percentage of business that started with an automation-driven RFP.


An automation-driven RFP is an RFP that contains a request for a minimum of one connector to a content management system. Based on interviews, discussions and Financial Year Statements, I came to the following division. Please note that this is not a scientific study; this is about generics.

Top 5: >30% of business originated from an automation-driven RFP

Top 6-30: 5-10% of business originated from an automation-driven RFP

Top 31-100: 1-5% of business originated from an automation-driven RFP

Above 100: <1 % of business originated from an automation-driven RFP

This is a staggering insight. Compare the difference between the top 5 companies and those listed in the top 6-30. The top 5 make 3-6 times more revenue as a percentage of automation-driven RFPs. So, what decides who is top 5 and who is not? Your automation story!! And that makes total sense. Because what is the subtle change that is impacting the localization industry profoundly? The answer is that in many enterprises, localization is pulled into a digital transformation team. And that changes the purchasing dynamics. Localization sellers and buyers think in quality metrics, turn-around times, and costs. But digital transformation managers think differently. Quality is important and always will be, but a digital transformation manager thinks in terms of automation. Digital transformation is about dealing with the new normal, digital omnipresence. Without automation, that is simply not possible. A digital transformation manager will not even consider your company as an option if you do not have an automation story.

Few LSPs seem to truly understand this. Here are a few examples: While at GALA in Munich discussing the state of the localization industry for the umpteenth time with a few hundred LSPs, one LSP was not there: Transperfect. Where were they? At the Adobe Summit! And to my mind that is the answer why they are number one, growing organically by over 20% per year. Or, to put Xillio forward, what was one of the first things Adolfo Hernandez did when he joined SDL? He partnered with Xillio and added 20+ connectors to the SDL automation story. What was one of the first things Marcus Casal did when he left Lionbridge and joined Amplexor? He closed a premiere partnership with Xillio to improve Amplexor’s automation story!

So, to all LSPs that are currently ranked in positions 6-30: the secret to growing in the next years is the quality of your automation story.

Is yours good enough?

Rikkert Engels

An entrepreneur at heart, Rikkert Engels founded Xillio in 2004 and has 17 years of experience in enterprise content management industry. Engels studied business management at the University of Groningen. Xillio is a leading global provider of content migration and integration software for digital transformation. Xillio provides innovative technology and services that help organizations get the best value out of their content, regardless of where it is stored. From its headquarters near Amsterdam, Xillio delivers its content connectivity solutions around the world through a network of software vendors, system integrators and specialized local implementation companies.