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Global businesses agree automated translation becomes a key strategic enabler

SDL plc

Tuesday, 23 September, 2008

Substantial industry shift highlights 40 percent of respondents now more likely to use automated translation as trust in the technology increases

Maidenhead, U.K. (23rd September 2008) – SDL, the leading provider of Global Information Management (GIM) solutions, today announced the results of a survey on trends in automated translation. Completed by over 385 individuals in global businesses – of which over 71 percent were of managerial level and above – the survey highlights a stark increase not just in the motivation of businesses to use automated translation compared to two years ago, but also in the actual deployment of the technology. SDL conducted the research in conjunction with the International Association for Machine Translation (IAMT) and Association for Machine Translation Americas (AMTA).

Most respondents were familiar with the concept of automated translation, with nearly 25 percent either using it or planning to use it. Furthermore, 40 percent of companies said they were more likely now to utilize it. These two statistics alone point to a substantial industry shift in perception, as interest and trust in this technology and its uses increases.

It is also interesting to identify into which types of application organizations would consider incorporating the technology. Over half – 55 percent – wanted to use it for generally producing foreign language versions of company content. Reflecting modern business practices, particularly where instant communication is required, the other areas of potential usage were all fairly evenly distributed between integration with chat tools, in e-mail, Microsoft Word documents, on wikis and blogs, integrated into a web page and for conducting research on foreign language documents.

“We conducted the survey on a global scale so that we could gain a worldwide perspective of automated translation in business, and to also identify its role within the current business climate. There is clearly much greater awareness and interest in it than there was two years ago, and a larger number of organizations are using or planning to use this technology,” said Laurie Gerber, President at the International Association for Machine Translation. “Expectations and demands concerning quality remain high, with a large number of participants requiring high-quality output from automated translation. This is understandable as the majority see it as part of a human translation process, to improve productivity and reduce costs without sacrificing quality.”

Technical documentation was the main anticipated usage of automated translation, with 62 percent of respondents agreeing on this, while 49 percent also cited support and knowledge-based content. Other types of content highlighted included website copy and virus alerts.

Over 70 percent of respondents named French, Italian, German and Spanish (FIGS) as their main target for usage. Asian languages accounted for just over 50 percent and Eastern European languages accrued 42 percent.

“The results speak for themselves, but it is great to see that automated translation is now rising up the boardroom agenda in terms of priority,” said Sophie Hurst, Senior Product Marketing Manager at SDL. “SDL has been using the technology as part of its SDL Knowledge-based Translation System™ for over four years now to deliver multilingual content for global brands such as Chrysler, CNH, Microsoft, HP and Renault. In this process it is combined with human skills to reduce the time and cost of delivering multilingual content while ensuring high-quality.”

SDL offers companies the ability to use automated translation either to give internal and external customers a gist of the meaning of content or to provide their customers with high-quality publications. SDL does this by combining automated translation together with other translation technologies as well as with the skills of humans, so that customers benefit from high-quality content while still reducing the time and cost of delivering that content into global markets.

The majority of respondents (59 percent) were from North America and Europe (33 percent), with a small number of respondents from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific and Japan. The results across Europe and North America were compared and showed very similar results. Respondents were cross-industry, from manufacturing, life sciences, aerospace, finance, electronics and telecoms.

The full details of the research can be read at www.sdl.com/atsurvey