Machine Translation: the Right Expectations, the Right Priorities

Machine Translation: the Right Expectations, the Right Priorities

Machine Translation today is a real productivity service. While the conclusion has been obvious looking at the performance data MT services deliver, many organizations with the right characteristics have now decided to adopt the technology to support their workflows, cut costs and save resources.

Will the rollout of a Neural Machine Translation solution lead you into the space age? Oh, well – yes it will. But it is important to manage our expectations.

However, what should you expect from introducing the tech in your workflows? Well, it all depends on how you set out to change your world: start small, expect little – start large, get more results early. Adjust your expectations depending on how much ammunition you have.

Machine Translation and the right rollout conditions

“It is always important not to expect very radical improvements in cost and throughput when starting out on small projects” – warns Globalese CEO Gábor Bessenyei in an interview he gave together with Crosslang’s Luc Meertens  to the TAUS blog recently. Small projects will not produce giant results. Gábor has provided an exemplary rollout by a Turkish company:

“This company managed to double productivity to 5,000 or 6,000 words a day – about twice the rate of the human-only process. But we should be very careful not to believe or spread stories about ten-fold productivity figures from MT projects.”

However, more often than not, end clients and LPSs alike do tend to expect too much from an MT deployment. Gábor is certain it is not only the issue of not understanding the technology well enough and expecting too much based on very limited corpora. The problem often lies in overestimating the benefits of an MT deployment.

Win some, lose some: take good care of your ecosystem

“End clients think they can save a lot of money, while at the same time they don’t have the right compensation package in place to pay either their LSPs or their translators. It’s very important that there is an ecosystem process in place whereby everyone can see how they benefit from automation. For example, translators ought to be able to see a benefit from the introduction of MT – such as applying a lower word rate but being able to work much faster. Rolling out a new pricing model should be done very carefully.”

And pricing schemes and compensation packages are an absolute must – as Andrew Joscelyne, the author of the TAUS article puts it:

“The vision of transparency that Gabor pictures is real. We can track translation throughput on a real-time basis and share the reporting with translators and clients. We would whole-heartedly agree that this type of business intelligence is part-and-parcel of the paradigm shift that NMT is taking the industry through these days.”

Gábor believes the technological change driven by MT technology is happening fast. He thinks however that, while the technology may render traditional generic translation obsolete in many contexts (e.g. travel guides, menus, other B2C content) the technology will also create ample opportunities, especially on the areas of content management and quality assurance.

Read the full article on TAUS here.

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