Posted by: Kevin Perry | July 15, 2010

Real-Time Translation vs. Machine Translation or can we work in harmony

I was recently asked a valid question by one of my customers and I’m sure it’s one that others may be thinking, too, so I thought I’d address it here today.

“Isn’t Real –Time Translation Service (RTTS) the same thing as traditional machine translation (MT)?”

Actually, it’s quite different. Traditional MT plays an important role for not only Lionbridge, but also our customers and prospects that have deployed MT within their organizations. They use this important technology as a productivity tool with the sole purpose to achieve 100% publication quality. In other words, it is used to bring down the cost of existing translation and utilize a heavy post edit.

RTTS primary goal is to provide “Good Enough” translation for the vast amount of content that goes untranslated within an enterprise (Blog’s, Knowledge bases, real-time chat, etc. ) Real-Time is about translating content after someone shows interest not “just in case” they happen to read it. Common Sense Advisory has stated that ~99% of enterprise content goes untranslated today. That is a big number and frankly an unacceptable number for the dynamic and digital world we live in. This industry needs to transform itself and wake up to the realities of the business world. It is about what I call “Consumer time” – we want it now and localization is no different.

Is “good enough” okay for the 99% of content that goes untranslated today? That is a question that each business and industry needs to ask itself. I was recently meeting with a customer and demoing the technology (yes…it is live! Ping me to find out more). They shared with me that there is a tremendous amount of user generated content on their web that can’t be translated by traditional means. As the Chief Marketing Officer put it, there are “have to’s” and “have not’s” as it relates to translation. We do not address the “have not’s” because of cost, time and quality. RTTS is the first technology I can see addressing this pain.

So you have options as a consumer:

1) You can continue to use traditional MT as a productivity tool to get you to 100% publication-ready translation

2) You can use RTT to translate the vast amount of content on the fly, realizing it won’t be 100% accurate, but good enough. The result will be significantly better than the freeware tools and without the heavy investment of a traditional MT tool.



  1. Real-Time Translation vs. Machine Translation or can we work in harmony

    What is the percentage of customers that you’ve seen adopting RTTS for their corporate websites or customer portals?

    • We are close to closing out our beta program because we already have candidates signed up (news coming soon around that). The interest is extremely high and we have accelerated our deployement efforts due to this high interest. Once we go General Availability (GA), we believe the sign up will be significant. The three primary areas of focus based on customer feedback are: IM Chat, Knowledge base, and Blog/Community Wikis.

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