Moses Use Case: KantanMT.com

Moses Core MT use case KantanMTJanuary 2015 marks the last month of the Moses Core project. The project started three years ago in 2012, as a collaborative effort by its members to improve translation processes and to create a competitive translation environment. Over those three years, the translation and MT landscape has changed significantly. This change and the project’s success is in no small part due to the hard work and diligence of the Moses Core project coordinator; TAUS  and with TAUS’s kind permission, KantanMT is republishing the MT use case for the KantanMT Community.

COMPANY NAME

KantanMT.com is a registered trademark of Xcelerator Machine Translations Ltd.

TIME IN MT BUSINESS

The platform was launched commercially in Q4 2013, however, we have been rigorously testing KantanMT.com in academic and commercial settings since 2012. In the beginning, the product was offered as a free trial to the KantanMT Community, and their feedback was instrumental in shaping and improving the platform to what it is today.

MOSES EXPERIENCE

The Moses technology has improved immensely over the past 12-18 months. Developer documentation and support materials, while initially very basic, have matured into a more structured, comprehensive and helpful resource. Additionally, the management of software distributions has made it easier to work with, understand and deploy. These are key elements in maintaining and supporting any open-source technology and have made Moses a key technology for the localization industry.

MosesCore

WHY MOSES?

The rise of the global economy and the driving demand for multilingual translation created a gap in the market for a sustainable translation method that could automatically scale to accommodate fluctuating translation needs. The KantanMT Development team was able to utilize the open source Moses decoder to develop a cloud-based Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) platform, where clients could build and manage their own customized MT engines without compromizing on the ownership of their data. The flexibility, scalability and security of the Moses toolkit made this possible.

The Moses toolkit offers the most flexibility in implementing an SMT solution for commercial purposes, as it allows the system’s training and decoding process to be modified. This has enabled the KantanMT team to create a high-value product that is dynamic and commercially relevant.

To ensure the product could scale and adapt to user needs the KantanMT team needed a decoder that could be built and managed on the cloud. The Moses system enabled this functionality.

Parallel language data is required to train an SMT engine. This data is an important resource for companies, and current generic SMT engines do not guarantee the security or safeguard the ownership of these assets. In using the Moses decoder, the KantanMT team created a product that could ensure its clients’ data was kept private, and not repurposed or reused in anyway.

Many global companies have large repositories of bilingual data, however, they often do not wish to deploy and maintain their own version of the Moses decoder. The KantanMT Development team was able to develop the sophisticated Moses SMT technology into a package that could be easily accessible to companies wishing to translate their content, and over time achieve localization cost savings.

MT STAFF

The current machine translation development team consists of four people, who maintain the platform and build machine translation engines for clients. Due to significant growth in the company over the past year, KantanMT.com will be hiring more staff over the course of the next few months to build engines for clients.

MT SYSTEM INFRASTRUCTURE

Insource or Outsource Moses/Implementation

Based on research, the demands of the language services industry and enterprise machine translation buyers, KantanMT has implemented and customized the Moses decoder in house to create a robust and commercially viable machine translation product that can scale and adapt to our clients’ needs. The original/base KantanAnalytics™ technology was co-developed with the CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content, an academic-industry research Centre based in Dublin City University, Ireland. However, all other KantanMT.com technologies have been developed in house by an in house expert development team.

Number of Engines

As of January 2015, the total number of MT engines built on KantanMT.com by the KantanMT community is 6,777 engines.

Volumes

As of January 2015, the total number of training words uploaded to the platform by the KantanMT Community has surpassed 50 billion, and the number of translated words on the platform is now more than 600 million.

USE SCENARIO

KantanMT preferred MT supplier bmmt
KantanMT.com Preferred MT Supplier

bmmt GmbH is a German language service provider with a strong focus on machine translation. It needed a Machine Translation provider, which would give the bmmt team full control of their Machine Translation training data and MT engine customization process at a low investment point. They also required a system which could correctly handle format-specific tagging and transparent transfer of mark-up information.

In early 2013, bmmt joined the KantanMT Community and began testing different customization processes using client specific training data. The team initially experienced minor problems with their SDLXLIFF files. However, the KantanMT development team were able to quickly solve this problem by restructuring some of its tokenizers.

The company began deploying production engines in mid-2013. These were showing particularly high Quality Evaluation (QE) scores due to the quality of their training data and resulted in a considerable increase in translation productivity. bmmt MT technicians found that domain specificity is a better basis for predictable output than sheer input size.

bmmt is currently using approximately 20 KantanMT engines in production across technical and automotive domains. These production ready engines are experiencing high quality metric scores for each language combination.

MARKET POSITIONING

KantanMT.com is one of the market leaders of cloud-based machine translation services. It provides cloud-based SMT services to major global enterprises and software companies wishing to translate large volumes of data. It works directly with companies to develop and implement a long term machine translation strategy, or it works with a select number of language service providers (preferred MT supplier partner program) to supply MT services to large enterprises.

VIEWS ON CURRENT STATE OF MT

Machine translation is now much more widely accepted in the industry, than it was just a few years ago. Since KantanMT.com entered the market in its testing phase in 2012, we have seen an enormous change in the attitudes and perception of MT in the language community. Access to technology such as smart-phones and tablets in non-English speaking nations has driven the global marketplace, and this in turn has increased the need for on-demand translation services – driving demand for MT services. The MosesCore Project has facilitated this demand with an open source solution that made it possible for smaller companies, and startups like us to compete against bigger MT providers, to solve the problem of language.

“The KantanMT platform sets a new industry benchmark in terms of analytics and development tools used to build and measure the quality of Statistical MT Engines. The KantanMT expert development team has introduced some of the industry’s most exciting and valuable technologies built on the Moses decoder, which are helping language and enterprise clients to translate more efficiently and reduce costs.” KantanMT.com founder and Chief Architect, Tony O’Dowd.

For more information on the Moses Core project or to access the original article, please contact TAUS (moses@taus.net) or to find out more about KantanMT.com contact Louise (info@kantanmt.com).

 

 

Language Industry Interview: KantanMT speaks with Maxim Khalilov, bmmt Technical Lead

Language Industry Interview: KantanMT speaks with Maxim Khalilov, bmmt Technical LeadThis year, both KantanMT and its preferred Machine Translation supplier, bmmt, a progressive Language Service Provider with an MT focus, exhibited side by side at the tekom Trade Fair and tcworld conference in Stuttgart, Germany.

As a member of the KantanMT preferred partner program, bmmt works closely with KantanMT to provide MT services to its clients, which include major players in the automotive industry. KantanMT was able to catch up with Maxim Khalilov, technical lead and ‘MT guru’ to find out more about his take on the industry and what advice he could give to translation buyers planning to invest in MT.

KantanMT: Can you tell me a little about yourself and, how you got involved in the industry?

Maxim Khalilov: It was a long and exciting journey. Many years ago, I graduated from the Technical University in Russia with a major in computer science and economics. After graduating, I worked as a researcher for a couple of years in the sustainable energy field. But, even then I knew I still wanted to come back to IT Industry.

In 2005, I started a PhD at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC) with a focus on Statistical Machine Translation, which was a very new topic back then. By 2009, after successfully defending my thesis, I moved to Amsterdam where I worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam and later as a RD manager at TAUS.

Since February 2014, I’ve been a team lead at bmmt GmbH, which is a German LSP with strong focus on machine translation.

I think my previous experience helped me to develop a deep understanding of the MT industry from both academic and technical perspectives.  It also gave me a combination of research and management experience in industry and academia, which I am applying by building a successful MT business at bmmt.

KMT: As a successful entrepreneur, what were the three greatest industry challenges you faced this year?

MK: This year has been a challenging one for us from both technical and management perspectives. We started to build an MT infrastructure around MOSES practically from scratch. MOSES was developed by academia and for academic use, and because of this we immediately noticed that many industrial challenges had not yet been addressed by MOSES developers.

The first challenge we faced was that the standard solution does not offer a solid tag processing mechanism – we had to invest into a customization of the MOSES code to make it compatible with what we wanted to achieve.

The second challenge we faced was that many players in the MT market are constantly talking about the lack of reliable, quick and cheap quality evaluation metrics. BLEU-like scores unfortunately are not always applicable for real world projects. Even if they are useful when comparing different iterations of the same engines, they are not useful for cross language or cross client comparison.

Interestingly, the third problem has a psychological nature; Post-Editors are not always happy to post edit MT output for many reasons, including of course the quality of MT. However, in many situations the problem is that MT post-editing requires a different skillset in comparison with ‘normal’ translation and it will take time before translators adopt fully to post editing tasks.

KMT: Do you believe MT has a say in the future, and what is your view on its development in global markets?

MK: Of course, MT will have a big say in the language services future. We can see now that the MT market is expanding quickly as more and more companies are adopting a combination TM-MT-PE framework as their primary localization solution.

“At the same time, users should not forget that MT has its clear niche”

I don’t think a machine will be ever able to translate poetry, for example, but at the same time it does not need to – MT has proved to be more than useful for the translation of technical documentation, marketing material and other content which represents more than 90% of the daily translators load worldwide.

Looking at the near future I see that the integration of MT and other cross language technologies with Big Data technologies will open new horizons for Big Data making it a really global technology.

KMT: How has MT affected or changed your business models?

MK: Our business model is built around MT; it allows us to deliver translations to our customers quicker and cheaper than without MT, while at the same time preserving the same level of quality and guaranteeing data security. We not only position MT as a competitive advantage when it comes to translation, but also as a base technology for future services. My personal belief, which is shared by other bmmt employees is that MT is a key technology that will make our world different – where translation is available on demand, when and where consumers need it, at a fair price and at its expected quality.

KMT: What advice can you give to translation buyers, interested in machine translation?

MK: MT is still a relatively new technology, but at the same time there is already a number of best practices available for new and existing players in the MT market. In my opinion, the four key points for translation buyers to remember when thinking about adopting machine translation are:

  1. Don’t mix it up with TM – While TMs mostly support human translators storing previously translated segments, MT translates complete sentences in an automatic way, the main difference is in these new words and phrases, which are not stored in a TM database.
  2. There is more than one way to use MT – MT is flexible, it can be a productivity tool that enables translators to deliver translations faster with the same quality as in the standard translation framework. Or MT can be used for ‘gisting’ without post-editing at all – something that many translation buyers forget about, but, which can be useful in many business scenarios. A good example of this type of scenario is in the integration of MT into chat widgets for real-time translation.
  3. Don’t worry about quality – Quality Assurance is always included in the translation pipeline and we, like many other LSPs guarantee, a desired level of quality to all translations independently of how the translations were produced.
  4. Think about time and cost – MT enables translation delivery quicker and cheaper than without MT.

A big ‘thank you’ to Maxim for taking time out of his busy schedule to take part in this interview, and we look forward to hearing more from Maxim during the KantanMT/bmmt joint webinar ‘5 Challenges of Scaling Localization Workflows for the 21st Century’ on Thursday November 20th (4pm GMT, 5pm CET and 8am PST).

KantanMT Industry Webinar 5 Challenges of Scaling Localization for the 21st Century_Webinar

Register here for the webinar or to receive a copy of the recording. If you have any questions about the services offered from either bmmt or KantanMT please contact:

Peggy Linder, bmmt (peggy.lindner@bmmt.eu)

Louise Irwin, KantanMT (louisei@kantanmt.com)

KantanMT @tekom Trade Fair and tcworld 2014

The KantanMT team are excited to be exhibiting for the first time at the tekom Trade Fair and tcword conference. This year, the event has found a new home at the International Congress Centre (ICS) Messe Stuttgart. This event, which is the largest of its kind is the biggest market place for technical communication in the world.

Not only will the KantanMT flag be flying high at the largest global TC event. But, KantanMT will also be taking part in sessions, tool presentations and offering personalized demos throughout the conference week. KantanMT are also offering its members a complimentary ticket to the tekom Fair with their registration.

KantanMT tekom trade fair, tcworld
Email us if you still need to get your free ticket (louisei@kantanmt.com)

Session: How does your machine Translation system measure up?

Tony O’Dowd, Founder and Chief Architect will be giving a presentation on evaluating machine translation. The presentation; ‘How does your machine Translation system measure up?’ is for localization professionals and will cover some of the most common yet critical issues for users of machine translation:

  • Measuring performance of Statistical MT
  • Recent advances in MT and data visualization techniques
  • Tracking MT efficiency in the translation process

Find it

What: Session

Where: Room C7.1OG

When: Wednesday 12th November @16:00 – 16:45

 

Joint Tool Presentation – Machine Translation for Translation Buyers: What is available and what is expected!

On the following day, KantanMT will be taking part in a joint tool presentation with German Language Service Provider (LSP) bmmt. Tony O’Dowd and Maxim Khalilov from bmmt will discussmachine translation for translation buyers: what is available and what is expected’. In this presentation, Tony and Maxim will give an overview of the current post-edited MT landscape and discuss with examples the formula for successful MT adoption, as well as what tools are available for global translation buyers. The full tool presentation program is available online on the tekom website.

Find it

What: Tool Presentation

Where: Room C10.1

When: Thursday 13th November @ 11:15 – 12:00

KantanMT_tcw-conference2014_Exhibitor

Personalized Platform Demonstrations

At the KantanMT exhibition booth, the KantanMT team will be giving personalized platform demonstrations that provide an ‘under the bonnet’ look at the cloud-based platform. The booth will be located in Hall C2 at booth A10, right next to bmmt; German LSP and KantanMT preferred partner.

Find it:

What: Personalized Platform Demonstrations

Where: KantanMT exhibition booth Hall C2, booth A10

When: Tuesday 11th – Thursday 13th November

 

Get the most out of the tekom/tcword conference – meet the teams

Large conferences and events can often be overwhelming and it’s easy to lose track of time and get wrapped up in the buzz and excitement of the event. To make sure you get the most from the conference, keep organized and make an appointment to speak with a member of the KantanMT or bmmt team.

KantanMT team – contact Louise Irwin (louisei@kantanmt.com)

Bmmt team – contact Peggy Lindner (peggy.lindner@bmmt.eu)

See you in Stuttgart!

5 Reasons to Read the TAUS Review

Earlier this month, TAUS, a well-known industry think tank and resource centre for the language services industry launched its quarterly publication; the TAUS review. The new magazine with a mission is dedicated to;

“Making translation technology more prominent and mainstream throughout the globe to break language barriers and improve worldwide communication.”

KantanMT TAUS Review

KantanMT identified five key reasons that make the review an invaluable asset to any translation and localization professional. It’s thanks to these reasons that KantanMT will distribute the TAUS Review right here on the KantanMTblog.

1. Global Translation Industry news 

TAUS has mobilized writers from across the globe; Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe to discuss different trends and technologies in the language services industry. These articles can become a great reference tool for those interested in how language technologies are advancing. In this issue; Andrew Joscelyne reports from Europe; Brian McConnell gives updates from the Americas; Asian trends are covered by Mike Tian-Jian Jiang and Amlaku Eshetie reports from the southern hemisphere; Africa.

2. Research and Reports 

Recent Research in MT is pretty exciting stuff, those that consider themselves language industry veterans like Luigi Muzii remember a time when machine translation predictions were overestimated. But what was once an unrealistic assumption is now changing as “neural networks and big data” are bringing a new frontier to natural language processing. Luigi Muzii gives an overview of the ‘research perspective’, highlighting current trends in research and linking to some interesting ACL winning papers, which introduce MT decoders that do not need linguistic resources.

3. Unique Insights

TAUS Review offers unique insights into the translation industry by incorporating use cases and perspectives from four different personas; the researcher, the journalist, the translator and the language expert, each one with their own different views and opinions on the importance of global communication and breaking down language barriers. In this issue, Jost Zetzsche, Nicholas Ostler, Lane Greene, and Luigi Muzii share their perspectives.

KantanMT especially enjoyed  Jost Zetzsche’s view of making “machine translation translator-centric” where the translator is at the centre of the MT workflow. One of the examples he lists for making this possible, “dynamic improvements in MT systems” is available to KantanMT clients.

4. Language Technology Community 

The opinions and thoughts that come from each contributor are neatly wrapped in one accessible place, and when coupled with the directory of distributors, events and webinars make a very useful resource for any small business or language technology enthusiast. Keep an eye out for some very interesting post-editing and MT quality webinars planned for November.

5. It’s Free! 

Holding true to the concept of sharing information and making translation technology more prominent and mainstream throughout the globe, the review is available quarterly and completely free for its readers, making it accessible to anyone, anywhere regardless of their budget.

Scroll to the end of the page to find the TAUS review on the KantanMTBlog.

New Trends in MT

communicate-Globally---in-any-language

Machine Translation (MT) has experienced an impressive growth in the rate of adoption over the last two years and today is being used by a growing number of enterprises and Language Service Providers (LSPs). Increasing numbers of MT vendors are now coming to market offering solutions which open MT up to a much wider audience and with a broader range of usage possibilities.

The motivation to use Machine Translation arises from many factors:-
  • Improvements in MT quality and the introduction of SaaS based platforms.
  • Exponential growth in digital content production and a growing customer expectation for information in their own language.
  • An increase in online social community activity and a desire to interact with international users.
  • Increasing competition within global markets and a motivation to provide more value to customer and stakeholders.

 

New Trends in Machine Translation

 

Google and Microsoft are probably the most well know MT providers for the general public, however, when we talk about enterprise users or the Language Industry, different suppliers of MT services and technology take precedence.

Traditionally, enterprise Machine Translation was supplied through high-cost consultancy organisations – with lengthy and complex deployment models and high project costs. Add to this, maintenance and pay-per-word annualised contracts and these costs mount up fast! In this scenario, small to medium-sized enterprises weren’t able to afford MT and so the majority couldn’t embrace MT within their organisations.

The Dawn of a New Era!

So how has Machine Translation changed in the last few years and what direction is the technology moving towards?

Well, as companies become more aware of the cost reductions that MT can deliver, they are beginning to search for sustainable MT solutions which will allow them to control the MT development process, and the integration and deployment process, at a reasonable price. These progressive organisations are searching for a solution that will protect their data and their client’s data, will provide maximum Return on Investment (ROI) and will leverage their existing translation assets and add velocity to their localisation workflows.

Understanding these challenges was the central motivation behind the development of KantanMT.com; a cloud-based platform used to customise, improve and deploy Machine Translation within translation workflows and software applications. KantanMT’s Founder and Chief Architect, Tony O’Dowd, a well-known localization industry entrepreneur became more aware of the language challenges facing international companies and LSPs around 2010 and started to develop an industry solution that would make MT available to a much wider audience.

Automating processes that consultancy companies were doing by hand would maximise efficiencies during the MT development process, reducing overall costs. It would also help to tackle complexity; a scary thought that plagues most who consider MT. Tony added an intuitive, easy to navigate user interface and extremely powerful analytics to make it easier for users to visualise what was happening to their data and what affect it was having on their MT engines during the building and customizing process.

Later, after a platform was developed that could not only match but also outperform traditional systems, KantanMT decided to address the challenge of translation quality evaluation.

how-to-measure-machine-translation-quality

For years translation companies and organisations battled with post-editors about Machine Translation output evaluation. The basic metrics that tell you how your engine is likely to perform, do not always offer a good indication about how much post-editing will be needed. Together with a team from The CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content, KantanMT developed an algorithm which assigns quality scores for each segment (or sentence) translated by a KantanMT engine. This means that Project Managers can accurately scope a project and determine how much of the output needs to be post-edited (if any).

KantanMT’s approach to MT has shaken up the language industry and left many companies questioning why they paid so much for MT in the past. Traditional MT providers are now quickly following in KantanMT’s footsteps and developing online portals for Machine Translation that try to mimic KantanMT.com. In the past six months alone, five vendors have released SaaS based SMT solutions. However, many still are pushing their consultancy services and saying that the same quality will never be achieved using online portals. KantanMT’s customers say different, indeed all of these have moved from traditional services to the web based approach. I guess time will tell which approach stay ahead…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAUS CEO, Jaap van der Meer talks to KantanMT

The translation industry has experienced a great shift in the past number of years, and not many can say they haven’t been affected. The movement to automate translation processes, driven by a remarkable increase in the demand for accessible multilingual content and price pressures on localization professionals can be seen at every level of the translation industry.

TAUS (Translation Automation User Society), a translation industry ‘think tank’ was founded in 2004 as a result of a roundtable held at the Localization World Conference in Seattle at which a group of some of the biggest IT companies in the world; including Oracle, IBM and CISCO sat to discuss the topic of automation and explore ideas of how to support the movement and those it affected by it.

TAUS CEO, Jaap van der Meer talks to KantanMTJaap van der Meer, Founder and CEO of TAUS talked to KantanMT about the evolution of one of the industry’s most well-known resource centres and the rapidly increasing developments in translation technology. He also shares his opinions and thoughts about the translation profession which he sees as having no escape from this global move to automation.

For Jaap, TAUS began as an ideology; he wanted to “help the world communicate better and create bigger opportunities for the translation sector”. He notes how the translation sector differs from other industries in that most industries have developed shared approaches, best practices and common metrics to support themselves and others working within these industries.” The lack of this he says is something that has created a “huge barrier to efficiency and innovation” in the translation industry, and when we remove these barriers “we create a much bigger opportunity for each individual player in the industry”.

TAUS is synonymous with automated translation, and in particular with machine translation. Yet, while Jaap would suggest that this is only one piece of the puzzle, he does believe that in time “every company that operates internationally will have to start using it.”

Machine translation has experienced incredible growth in recent years, both in terms of technological innovation and wide industry adoption. Indeed, Jaap believes that “the investment that goes into improving MT technology and integrating MT and post-editing into translation workflows will be the one thing that has the biggest effect on the industry” over the next few years. He stresses however that this investment needs to feed an entire ecosystem, because MT is not stand alone. “You can’t just dump a machine translation system into an existing environment. You need to change and innovate the whole environment. There’s a lot of evaluation and metrics involved and widespread training needed.”

Another technology that he sees developing in line with machine translation is speech translation, and the convergence of both technologies. Those attending the TAUS annual conference in Vancouver in October will learn more about this as it is the conference theme. So will TAUS offer similar resources for speech translation as with text translation? Well, Jaap admits that although TAUS always tries to be “ahead of the curve”, the process of building such an extensive repository of speech corpora might be too demanding for an industry body of TAUS’ size. The solution? Jaap says they will need to “collaborate with other industry groups and also at a government level” in order to grow in this area.

So, as TAUS continues to expand its services and move into new areas Jaap’s role begins to grow and diversify. What keeps him driven on his pursuit towards language as a utility? “It’s just because I believe in it, if it were just for business, I’d probably do something else.” A nice thought knowing that that there are people working to progress an industry and ease the path for all stakeholders involved.

KantanMT speaks with Hans Fenstermacher, CEO, GALA

Hans-Fenstermacher,-CEO,-GALAHans Fenstermacher, CEO of GALA (Globalisation and Localization Association) reflects on his experience working within the localization industry and tells us his views on some of the problems and opportunities affecting the industry today.

KantanMT: Hans, you’ve been working in localization for over 25 years, and with GALA since 2002 – how did you get started in the industry?

Hans Fenstermacher: I began as a translator and interpreter in New York City in 1982. I was lucky to get an in-house translation position right out of college, where I received excellent training from seasoned experts. I translated everything they would let me from 6 languages into English – documents, annual reports, business letters, print ads, you name it – and I worked as an editor/proofreader on lots more. I also did some consecutive interpreting (legal, medical, business meetings) and was thrilled to be an interpreter at the L.A. Olympics in 1984 in the UCLA Olympic Village, too. Those first few years were a great linguistic and operational training ground for my career. After getting my M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher school (and briefly considering a career in the U.S. State Department), I decided to jump into the translation business with both feet and haven’t looked back since!

KMT: What events (actual events/technology developments) do you feel most helped to shape how the localization industry operates today?

HF: You have to remember that the translation business was the original offshoring industry. We’ve sought resources in-country ever since I can remember. The Internet gave that process a huge boost; now we were able to find and work with linguistic resources all over the globe! Not to mention all the other advantages the Internet gave the business world. Then there’s Translation Memory. I recall my early days in the translation business, translating the same sentences over and over again. What a huge productivity gain to be able to recall those and reuse them. On the other hand, I do think that as an industry we “gave back” those productivity gains in the form of discounts to the clients much too quickly. Instead of using the extra margins ourselves and investing in more ways to improve our business, we seemed eager to pass the cost savings right on to the customers. That was great for them, but not so good for us as an industry. And this pattern has become chronic over the past 20 years. We’re seeing it again with MT, I’m afraid. This is one of the reasons that it’s hard for smaller LSPs – which, it must be remembered, is most of the localization industry! – to do R&D and innovate.

KMT: Is there anything that has maintained itself since you began working in the industry (service levels/attitudes etc.)?

HF: On the positive side, with those who do translations for a living, quality is still considered paramount. You really find very few language professionals who don’t care about doing a good job. That’s encouraging and continues to give our industry a great base to build the future on. Some linguists and business owners are perhaps too insistent on “high quality” without really knowing what that is or how to define it, but if I were a customer, I’d rather work with those kinds of people to adjust expectations around value (quality vs. cost) rather than wringing my hands about not being able to find someone to do a decent job.

One negative thing that has been slow to change is the general attitude about translation from those who buy it. It’s still largely an afterthought, an add-on at the end of the content process. I think this comes from persistent ignorance about what translation is and a lack of ability to assess the end-product. That’s changing, albeit too slowly (but I’d like to think that GALA is helping accelerate the business community’s understanding). We have a ways to go still, but companies are finally (!) realizing that their markets are global and that their potential customers don’t want to struggle to access their products in languages they don’t speak.

Something that is both positive and negative is the general attitude toward technology. As the industry has become increasingly technologized over the past 30 years, more and more emphasis is placed on tools to solve all our problems (quality, workflow, etc.). But just like in any business, adding technology to a flawed process doesn’t fix the process; in many ways, it just emphasizes the flaws. But technology has been a huge boon to translation, no question about that. MT (which it used to be said was five years from perfection and always will be) has really become a useful tool that is finally (mostly) ready for prime time. And we have other fine CAT and workflow technologies that have enabled our industry to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

KMT: What do you think is next in terms of game changers for the industry?

HF: I think the interpreting and speech translation sector is ripe for disruption. Technologies are fast coming upon us that will change how we deal with speech. This could give a big boost to languages that have a small digital presence – I’m thinking of African and Asian languages, where much less digital, written content has been produced. Speech recognition and generation have made big strides in recent years. But I think the biggest advances are still to come.

I think the next few years will see some fascinating combinations of existing technologies to form a sort of “bleeding” edge for the industry: MT+transcreation for marketing on the fly? Sounds far-fetched, and yet I’m sure somewhere someone is stroking his or her chin thinking, “Hmm, maybe, just maybe!” How about TM+MT+authoring for automated content creation simultaneously in multiple languages? Without writers or translators?? Sounds heretical, and yet…

KMT: Are there any under the radar start-ups that you think will shake things up (apart from Kantan ;))?

HF: Well, Tony’s always been at the forefront of the industry :)! We’re all not privy of course to the secret strategic thinking taking place at most startups, but I’m really encouraged by what we can see. Now that the financial crisis of the past 5 years is mostly behind us, there’s a renewed energy to innovate and disrupt. It seems venture capital is getting in the game again, consolidation is back in the news. People are investing in the future of our industry. It’s exciting! From what I’ve seen in the past 18 months as CEO of GALA – side note: after 30 years in the LSP business, I have the privilege of being more of an observer now, and it’s fascinating – I think we’re going to see some pretty innovative things coming out of emerging language markets, like Russia, China, India. Not to mention the tremendous work going on in Africa, mostly under the radar. Sometimes people ask, when will Africa catch up? If you ask me, Africa isn’t going to catch up, it’s going to lead!

KMT: People always talk so highly of GALA and its events – what do you think that GALA brings to the industry that other organisations don’t?

HF: Thanks, I’m glad to hear that. We at GALA work incredibly hard on behalf of the language industry. I was a freelancer, production manager, business owner, and corporate executive in the past 30 years, but I’ve never worked harder in my life than right now. And the same goes for all of us at GALA. We have a huge passion for improving the industry and helping our members grow. It shows in our events, publications, collaborations, and programs. One thing people may not realize is that GALA is entirely funded by ourselves: no grants, no government money, no outside capital, nothing. We operate like an entrepreneurial startup, lean with no frills, so we focus all our energy on delivering value to our members. Another key point is that GALA is non-profit. That means we can, and we do, re-invest all our funds in programs and activities that help our members and the industry. And membership dues are our fuel! Events are great occasions to learn and network, and we love them. But annual dues from our over 400 member companies are what sustain our work all year long. Finally – and this is critical – one of GALA’s key missions is to promote and advocate for the industry. I don’t think any other language industry organization does as much as we do to proclaim the value and importance of the language business to the world. Without languages, everything stops. It’s that simple. GALA is the global voice that relentlessly makes that point.

KMT: What role do you hope GALA will have in the development of the translation and localization industries?

HF: A huge one, I hope! I think our role can be two-fold. To the industry itself, we want to become the global resource for information, development, and standards. GALA can help continuously improve and professionalize the business of language and be a vehicle for sharing and multiplying knowledge. Secondly, facing outward beyond our localization “bubble,” GALA can be the voice of the professional language industry, speaking with credibility and authority to the business community, policymakers, and others. In the end, our mission is the same: make sure that languages are a core element of every global engagement. That will mean more value for language work and more business for the companies who do it!

KMT: The GALA, Istanbul conference looks like it’s going to be another great event. What part of this particular conference are you most looking forward to?

HF: Wow, that’s a tough one. So many great elements. Think! Interpreting is a wonderful new addition to focus on the exploding interpreting sector. We’re really happy to be working with our new partners at InterpretAmerica on that. We also have the Director-General for Translation coming to speak to us. He represents the biggest language-services buyer in the world. How exciting is that! One of the best parts of GALA Istanbul, though, will be seeing so many friends an colleagues and meeting new ones. I can literally go from 7 in the morning until midnight every day and not talk to everyone I want to. This is our biggest, best conference yet, so I’m sure that will be an even greater challenge than usual!

KMT: What advice would you give to people who are attending the GALA conference for the first time to make the most out of the event?

HF: Don’t be shy! Don’t hang out with the people you work with (much as you may like them J). Walk up and introduce yourself to new people. Our signature event “Speed Networking” is an awesome way to get a jumpstart on that, so don’t miss it. Visit the exhibits! It’s not about selling or buying, but about learning. This is a great way to see new tools in action (some have special demos, too), ask questions, find business partners, and more. Talk to GALA members about the organization! Find out what it can do for you, and how you can get involved and gain more value for your work. Finally, ask the GALA team for help! If you’re looking for something or someone in particular, ask us. We’ll help get you connected.

Thanks to Hans for taking time out of his busy schedule to take part in this interview – we’re sure that the Istanbul conference will be a huge success and look forward to meeting many interesting people during the event.

The KantanMT Team

Interested in setting up a demo with the KantanMT team during the event? Send Niamh (niamhl@kantanmt.com) and email to book in a time slot!