The TM Debate Heats Up, SDL Fires Back
In the August 2006 edition, CSN Magazine featured a new translation memory technology, and we posed the question “is TM obsolete?” We couldn’t publish an article like that without also speaking with Keith Laska, Vice President of SDL Trados Technologies. We expect innovation from an industry leader like SDL, and at CSN, we weren’t disappointed.
Keeping a promise to continue adding innovation in the TM technology space, SDL is about to release something new: SDL Trados Synergy 2006. Due in October—think of it as the next-generation project management server technology. But the real gold nugget for SDL Trados customers seems to be innovation around SDL Perfect Match Translation Memory Technology. After hearing about this technology, we posed the question, is translation review obsolete?
CSN – Last year, after the merger of SDL and Trados, CSN interviewed you about the future of SDLX and Trados. In that August 2005 interview, you made a promise, “that the localization ecosystem will see a lower total cost of technology ownership.” Is that what led you to develop SDL Trados Synergy?
Keith – With tight deadlines, heavy costs controls, and an ever-increasing reliance on technology automation, our customers have been asking us to deliver a new breed of project management efficiency. Our SDL Trados Synergy is the next-generation server technology that truly addresses the majority of requirements that project managers face in corporate language departments or as language service providers.
CSN – So, why do you refer to it as a server technology? How does it help?
Kieth – Maybe it’s best to begin by laying out a typical project scenario. A project manager (PM) comes into work, receives a project with 400 files, seven file types going into 15 languages, and immediately begins file preparation work. This means creating 15 separate language projects, with 15 different translation memories, and 15 different translation folders. All in all, the PM is about to undertake a project that will contain over 6,000 separate translation files. This can take a very long time.
Next, they send the prepared files “over the wall” to translators in worldwide locations who have accepted the job. The PM may know the project due date, but the PM has zero visibility into the status of the job on a file-by-file basis at any given time. The PM certainly won’t find issues with a project until it’s late in the game. And with 6,000 files on the go, the chance for human error is exponential.
Finally, the PM receives files back and needs to quality check the project, adding considerably to review time. Even though the original project analysis showed a considerable percentage of “100% matches,” these 100% matches need to be reviewed to make sure they are in-context with the current project, as a lot of 100% matches may still be out of context.
CSN – Okay, we’re talking about a lot of work. You’re reminding me of my project management days. I take it that SDL TRADOS has innovated around these issues?
Keith – More than innovated; we’ve cut the process in half. Let me explain the new world with SDL Trados Synergy.
A PM comes into work, gets some coffee and sits down. The PM opens SDL Trados Synergy, revealing a world that is centralized and neatly organized (see Figure 1). The PM receives the same 15-language project that involves 6,000 files. But this time, the PM simply opens the customer profile for this customer in the Synergy dashboard, and with one click of a button, the project begins processing.
Because the customer profile, which was created sometime prior, knows exactly where the customer’s files are. The customer profile knows what 15 languages the project is going into, and what file types the customer sent. The profile even knows which translation memories to use, and whether the PM needs to use multiple file-based TMs or connect to the central TM server for processing. It also knows which historical bi-lingual files to choose in order to benefit from SDL PerfectMatch Technology.
Finally, the project is complete with files for translation, Project TM, and even reference files. It is packaged up, and the project manager sends the package to one or more translators, who use a free Synergy client to accept the projects.
CSN – Of course, it sounds like a nice scenario, but is it really just one click, and then you’re done?
Keith – Implementing a project can be that simple, if the client profile is established. But, of course, that’s just the first component. The project has also been posted to the PM’s project tracking dashboard, where the PM can see this project, or unlimited other projects, currently being worked on, and in real time.
CSN – What do you mean by “real time”?
Keith – I mean that the PM can view each and every project created with Synergy, and receive 360-degree visibility to what the status is for a project, a language, or even a file-by-file view. For the first time, a PM has full visibility into the minute details of a project’s status. And don’t underestimate this feature. When it comes to correcting mistakes before they become too large, this type of knowledge is sheer power.
Of course, all of this includes central server technology, which allows the PM to connect everyone in the translation supply chain that is using SDL TRADOS technology, connect them to one central database.
CSN – So then, with SDL Trados Synergy, a PM gets project-file automation, greater project visibility, and central TM server connectivity; these are the efficiencies that you said customers are asking for?
Keith – Actually, there’s more. We have opted for the “platform approach”: customers also receive SDL MultiTerm Extract, for automatically creating terminology lists, plus SDLMultiTerm, for sharing terminology, and our revolutionary SDL PerfectMatch Technology included in the package.
CSN – So by now, the readers should be interested enough. But I’m sure everyone is asking what SDL PerfectMatch Technology does and what the hype is all about.
Keith – SDL PerfectMatch Technology is the icing on the cake. It provides a perfect TM match, which means a company will never again have to review—or pay for— “100% matches.”
CSN – Why would customers have to pay for 100% matches, anyway, and how does this technology work?
Keith – It’s really the way that TM tools work, by “matching” source sentences to target sentences, and storing that “match” in a database for future use. You have untranslated sentences, which carry a full translation cost. You have fuzzy or partial matches, which typically carry a “review” cost. You also have “100% matches,” which are direct hits with a sentence previously translated.
CSN – That’s pretty clear. But a 100% match is, well, a 100% match; why does anyone have to review it?
Keith – Good question! 100% matches are reviewed as normal practice, and there’s a very good reason for it. If you have TMs with millions upon millions of sentences stored in them, there is a very high chance you could have a source sentence that has multiple translation matches. That’s because each one might vary slightly, depending on context. When you’re dealing with highly specialized verticals, such as pharmaceuticals, automotive, engineering, or electronics, you need to be more than 100% sure that you have the right sentence in the right place. Reviewing 100% matches helps ensure that none of the previously translated sentences have been reused out of context. This is where SDL PerfectMatch Technology truly shows its worth.
CSN – So how does it work?
Keith – What SDL PerfectMatch Technology does is guarantee, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the 100% match is in context and will not have to be reviewed. It does this by comparing original source files against new source files and locking down guaranteed matches. You can be “101%” sure that these matches do not need to be reviewed.
CSN - Companies have paid, and are still paying, thousands and thousands of dollars on 100% match reviews. If I understand this correctly, you have just eliminated 100% match reviews for in-context matches?
Keith – Exactly. And this included as an integrated part of SDL Trados Synergy. And in this workflow, the matches happen even before project translation begins, at no cost to the customer.
CSN – I agree, that is news. And so what is the cost and configuration model for SDL Trados Synergy?
Keith – We’ve come up with a pricing and technology model that really fits every possible customer profile. The price is very scalable, depending on your needs, allowing you to benefit quickly with minimal investment. You can invest in the project automation piece alone. You can work with SDL Trados Synergy in an online or offline environment. You can have the solution completely hosted, with no expensive IT setup and maintenance costs, or you can “rent” the software and spread the costs, to eliminate capital expenditure or alleviate concerns over cash flow.
CSN – That’s a lot of options. I think what I heard is that you can either purchase it outright, or you can acquire it as a service (SaaS), but in multiple different ways. Why so many paths?
Keith – Well, companies can struggle making decisions with the inherent “jumps” associated with moving from desktop to server technology. This model allows them to take what I call “ROI steps”: to acquire the software, work with it until return on investment is recouped, then scale up to the next level. It’s a comfortable way to get comfortable with your technology choices.
CSN – How would you summarize SDL Trados Synergy?
Keith – SDL Trados Synergy is the best of both SDL and TRADOS technologies. It takes the full power of TRADOS technology and adds the intuitive, user-friendly nature of SDL technology. It allows seamless connectivity with the entire translation supply chain of SDL TRADOS users, which is the most relied upon and trusted technology in the industry. File prep automation, 360 degree project status visibility, and central TM connectivity are all included. It makes project managers measurably more efficient. And SDL PerfectMatch Technology integrates seamlessly and saves companies thousands upon thousands of dollars in unneeded review costs.
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