I attended the European Language Industry Association (ELIA)’s Together, the association’s annual event held in Berlin, on 23 and 24 February, 2017, themed “Communicating for Success”. While my colleague Anke Vogel was following the relationship track, I focused on the technology track of the program and listened to a diverse range of people - among them were academics, freelancers, Language Service Providers (LSPs) and software providers.
While all of them talked about the technical aspects of translation, they had different perspectives. I came to know about the challenges of quality assurance, the latest developments in CAT tools and file handling, the constant rise in expectations and the overwhelming acceleration in content and data generation.
The rise of multilingual content
"Every 2 days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up to 2003. That’s 2.5 million terabytes of data a day!"
Neil Ferguson, Product Marketing Manager at SDL, during his presentation “Taking control of machines – non-zero-sum strategies for translators”
He also quoted some eye-opening statistics that demonstrate why this alarming rate at which content is growing, leading to the fast rise in translation, localization services and technology from global enterprises:
- 92% struggle with localization
- 70% support 5 or more languages
- 36% store content in more than 10 repositories
- 71% report that their web content management system (WCMS) has no direct connection with their localization processes
Rosie Robbins, Freelance Translator, gave an insightful presentation on content marketing with several practical examples of how to apply this marketing philosophy to freelance professionals. This topic tied in perfectly with Neil Ferguson’s talk to show why technologies like translation connectors and end-to-end solutions for multilingual content creation, structuring and publishing are essential to align the quality of companies’ communications with the excellence of their products. In today’s world, accelerating the creation and reuse of product information has to ensure its accuracy and enable easy updating processes for all formats and languages.
The future of machine translation
All of these technology-driven presentations brought up a vivid discussion on machine translation (MT) - the subject which, in the light of the latest developments in neural MT, I was most enthusiastic about. It dominates every translation technology discussion, with the rise of Big Data accelerating and driving its evolution to improve the quality and usability of the translated content.
Ana Guerberof, from Universtat Autònoma de Barcelona, also had some interesting questions for the future of MT:
- Is MT post-editing already in the past?
- Is full automation nearer now than ever before for certain types of text?
- How can we effective collaborate on the cloud?
- And speech to speech automatic translation?
- How should translation and localization students be trained on MT technology?
Human-centric translation technology
Gartner’s 2016 Emerging Trends report was quoted to bring some peace to the ones who panic at the launch of every new technology: “Technology will continue to become more human-centric to the point where it will introduce transparency between people, businesses and things. This relationship will become much more entwined as the evolution of technology becomes adaptive, contextual and fluid within the workplace, at home, and interacting with businesses and other people.”
I personally think attending industry conferences like ELIA’s Together and staying on top of the latest trends in the field through industry blogs or websites are especially valuable to be prepared to the dawn of new technologies. After all, they’re here to increase our productivity and improve the quality of our work.
The value of people
Despite the many interesting topics, what I found most fruitful were the in-between chats, the coffee breaks with strangers and – until then - virtual contacts, such as freelancers, colleagues from other subsidiaries around the world, partners and even competitors.
Getting to know people you work with every day but have never met in person and discussing the joys and the challenges of our daily tasks adds so much value to our work, not only between freelancers and LSPs, but also within the company. So this is the key message I take with me from the conference to foster within the teams at AMPLEXOR, which in 2017 are more spread across the globe than ever before.