Posted by: Kevin Perry | April 28, 2010

IBM and Lionbridge: Fact and Fiction around the Partnership

I have to say I was excited about the feedback, interest and overall dialogue around the IBM and Lionbridge announcement. Real-time multilingual communication is transforming the industry and it is great to be leading the charge. I want to set the record straight around this announcement. Similar to politics in Washington DC, many things can get fabricated and distorted. This blog is about separating FACT from FICTION…so here goes.

1.) Lionbridge real time translation is a technology solution – a SaaS product – not a service offering. Enterprises who buy this platform will license this technology as they would any SaaS application. For any services that come out of this technology –i.e. post editing – can be done using any service provider the enterprise chooses to work with. RTTS is a license. It does NOT lock enterprises into any service provider.

2.) This announcement does not mean that IBM gets access to our customer TM assets. In fact, we will use our existing technology (translation workspace) to keep assets secure in its own private tenancy. With this agreement, we will have a three year exclusive agreement that:

  • gives us the rights to license and sell their real-time technology
  • a patent cross-licensing agreement
  • A partnership that establishes Lionbridge as IBM’s preferred deployment partner for real-time translation technology and related professional services.

3.)IBM selected Lionbridge as a partner because of our thought leadership, scale/size, SaaS based technology approach to localization, and our ability to bring this to market successfully.

4.) RTTS (Real-Time Translation Service) is not based on RbMT technology. It is based on SMT (Statistical Machine Translation) technology. IBM has deployed RTTS internally through “n.Fluent,” a project that made the RTTS technology generally available to IBM’s approximately 400,000 employees for chat, email, web page, crowd sourcing, eSupport, blogs, knowledge portals, and document translation. It has been in pilot for the last 4-5 years.

5.) Until today, the majority of multilingual communication has been:

  • Unaffordable – Human translation is expensive and can’t be done for all content
  • Unintelligible – free MT tools provide rough gisting and will not work for enterprises.
  • Unavailable – Cost and quality barriers of traditional MT inhibit translation of large volumes of fast-growing enterprise content

Traditionally, Lionbridge’s sweet spot has been working with companies that have high end, complex translation requirements. We will continue to offer this high level service to our customers. Having said that, there is a large portion of the market segment that is untapped today (e-support (customer care), Knowledge base, IM’s, tier three languages, blogs, emails etc.) that requires a cost –effective solution for large volumes of content that are not currently localized. Real-time Translation (RTT) provides enterprises a new way to access high UTILITY content, not Publication quality content, globally without having to invest huge sums of money in upfront translation and related multi-lingual content management systems.

Bill Sullivan, IBM’s Globalization Executive and a member of LISA’s advisory board, shared his thoughts on what this means to the industry and to LISA in particular – Very interesting read and provides a different opinion from IBM Check it out.


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