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ClientSide News Magazine pictureOn the heals of several major announcements from SDL surrounding the acquisition of Tridion (a leading WCMS) as well as Passolo (one of the market leaders in visual software localization tools), along with recent success stories surrounding the use of their machine translation solution, SDL Knowledge-based Translation System (SDL KbTS)—it is obvious that SDL is leading the way in connecting the entire global supply chain through technology and integration. CSN has asked SDL to provide us with an overview of how they define the global supply chain, how each of these solutions help the market throughout this supply chain and to share with our readers their technology roadmap and the vision they have for the marketplace as well as themselves.

SDL is on a mission – a mission to help the world’s corporations drive global brand consistency and accelerate time-to-market for all a company’s global content. Quoted on the London Stock Exchange, it has grown to be a global market leader with three core businesses: technology for the translation supply chain, language service provision, and true global web content management. This article examines the strategy of SDL and the importance of technology in enabling the translation supply chain to help global corporations conquer language.


Global corporations are faced with challenges today that have never been seen before. Since the advent of the internet improved communications and the implementation of free trade agreements between countries, the face of business has changed forever and companies are faced with competition from places never seen before. In addition, consumers are no longer worried about where products come from – so long as they arrive on time and they are what the consumer wanted, then they‘re happy. When something ceases to function, there is not the same desire to fix it – “throw it away and buy another” is the motto of the younger generation.

This brings enormous pressure on companies as they strive to remain agile and competitive in the face of increasing global competition. Cutting time-to-market, delivering a unique customer experience, and protecting global brands are now major imperatives that have been impacted by the immediacy of the internet. Gone are the days when a company could take a year to build a product, ship it to foreign markets, and leave it to their subsidiaries to tailor it over time to the requirements of different markets. The internet is immediate and information is immediately available to a global audience. Global corporations are now aware that they need a more effective strategy for ensuring that their information is made available in the language of their customers – quickly, efficiently, and accurately.


The customer is king. When faced with different products to choose from, the customer will always go for the product that feels right to him/her – and language is a key element of that consideration. So, delivering language is critical – and yet it is complicated, as it involves people who are spread across the world.

Typically a corporation will manage the localization process through one or more corporate language departments. They may have internal translators, or they may outsource to one or more Language Service Providers. Those LSP’s will either use internal resources or outsource to professional freelance translators around the world. This is the translation supply chain. Connecting these people was never a problem before the arrival of the internet – information was simply shipped by email to a subsidiary in a foreign country where the translation process occurred using local agencies. It happened, no one complained and life continued.

So what’s different now? The answer is “the internet”. Suddenly companies want information more quickly, and in more languages. The translation supply chain is being squeezed harder than ever before – there are literally not enough translators in the world to manage the vast increase in language requirements coming from corporations around the world.

The answer to the problem is technology – and this is a critical element of strategy for SDL – enabling the translation supply chain through an integrated platform of technology to empower corporations so they can efficiently manage the process of delivering corporate information to the globe.

We call it Global Information Management (GIM).


You will never take the human out of the translation process because language is a living, breathing experience that changes with time and reflects the culture of all peoples. It is unlikely that automated or machine translation alone will ever deliver that ultimate experience, or the quality that companies require for their brand. Therefore, humans are an essential component of the process of translation and the role of technology is to ensure that they are working efficiently and in harmony with the needs of their clients , the end-user corporation.

However, automated translation is important and SDL continues to invest in its Knowledge-based Translation System (called SDL KbTS). KbTS has provided a valuable service to the world’s leading brands for over three years and combines machine translation with translation memories, dictionaries, automated workflow, and human post-editing to deliver publishable quality multilingual content up to 50% faster and at up to 40% lower cost than traditional translation processes. This proven and award-winning solution is used by organizations such as Best Western, The Chrysler Group, CNH, HP, RS Components, and more.

SDL identified many years ago that the management of increasing volumes of content was difficult and that technology would play a critical role. SDL sought to develop a technology base to assist in automating critical processes of the supply chain while leaving the ultimate translation process to humans.

There are four major components of the technology story: starting with the creation of content, the storing of that content, the translation process, and the publishing of content to one or more different channels. These are all intricately linked with one another and understanding their interdependencies drives greater efficiency and quality. As an example, making reference to previously translated content at the authoring stage will improve the end-to-end content creation process.

SDL’s technology strategy is to provide a technology- enabled and connected translation supply chain, which enables corporations from any country to utilize the services of any LSP and any professional freelance translator to create and maintain high quality multilingual content quickly. This is the SDL GIM platform.


The starting point is to centralize information assets into a single repository. Regardless of the vendor being used, organizations should place all previously translated content into a centralized repository where it can be accessed and re-used. This information is the very lifeblood of a corporation and represents the intellectual property of the corporation – as such it should be owned and controlled by the corporation. SDL Translation Management System (TMS) is an example of such a centralized repository. Built on industry standards, it enables a corporation to store any multilingual content and use it to drive efficiency across the translation process – regardless of how many vendors may be used across different global markets.

When new content is submitted for translation, SDL TMS analyzes the content and determines how much has previously been translated. Any such content is matched and delivered back to the user. Any remaining content that needs to be translated is automatically passed with context to the relevant agencies or translators to translate.


A second critical component of the communication process is terminology management. SDL has developed a market-leading solution called SDL MultiTerm that allows a company to store their core fundamental terminology within a centralized repository that can be accessed company-wide.

“The power of effective terminology management is that it enables consistent communication – not only in the source language, but also in every other language required.”

The power of effective terminology management is that it enables consistent communication – not only in the source language, but also in every other language required. The Translation Management System references the terminology repository as it analyzes submitted content. Through linguistic algorithms and trademarked technology SDL TMS understands the terminology and automatically delivers the translated terminology within the target languages. Equally, SDL AuthorAssistant recognizes terminology and highlights the use of incorrect terminology in the authoring process.


There is a mindset change happening within authoring departments worldwide. Gone are the days when information was simply written and thrown over the proverbial wall for translation. Today’s authors are aspiring to the art of “authoring for a global audience”. SDL is helping this become a reality by empowering authors to leverage the contents of their centralized terminology and translation memories together with their chosen style guide. This is done by a piece of technology called SDL AuthorAssistant. This product links into the authoring tool being used and allows a company to author for a global audience by making reference to a consistent terminology and using an efficient translation process.

So for the first time ever, corporations have a way of proactively defining terminology and re-using the wealth of translated content that has gone before – at the beginning of the content lifecycle – in the authoring process. By doing so, organizations are no longer looking at translation in a silo of its own, but they are looking at improving the end-to-end efficiencies of the entire lifecycle and looking at what can be done at different stages of the process to drive brand consistency, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies.

However, more and more content is required in more and more languages and the corporation needs an efficient way of delivering all new translation requirements to the translation supply chain. The centralized repository that is accessed by all the authors within the company needs to be connected seamlessly with the translation supply chain so that everyone is using the same repository and gaining maximum efficiencies from accessing it.


SDL acquired Trados in 2005. Already established as the defacto standard for translation software, Trados is now used by more than 80% of the world’s professional translators. SDL’s strategy for Trados is to develop it further in order to provide the most productive translation toolset integrated with the enterprise software used by the end-user corporation. With the release of SDL TMS 2007 and SDL Trados 2007, that integration was delivered. Suddenly users of Trados 2007 could automatically receive from SDL TMS 2007 content packaged into a format easily understood by the translators and designed to include the information required for translation, including for example, the context of that information.

In addition, managing the translation process across a group of translators is time consuming – the delivery of SDL Trados Synergy provided an effective project management tool to assist that process and help all components of the supply chain to work together efficiently.


SDL continues to evolve and develop their range of technology solutions. Whilst nothing can be written about future acquisition strategies, it is clear that SDL continues to evaluate services and technologies that help deliver on the strategy of Global Information Management. The acquisitions of Tridion and Passolo fit that requirement exactly:

  • Tridion is a market-leading web content management provider. Today every company is looking at how to utilize web-based technologies to market to, sell to, and support their customers. It is a natural extension of the SDL strategy to link the initial XML web-content delivery with the back-end translation supply chain to enable for the first time ever the efficient creation and maintenance of multilingual websites. This serves not only to deliver an integrated end-to-end solution, but also accelerates the understanding of the importance of the translation supply chain within senior management of end-user corporations.
  • Passolo is the market leading solution for software localization. The acquisition of Passolo brings this technology into the SDL group, integrated with SDL Trados to enable LSP’s to bid for and manage software localization projects alongside more traditional documentation projects.


We live in a world where the communication is king. Over time more and more content will be delivered through web-based technologies. Corporations across the globe strive to compete by marketing and selling through the web while looking at innovative ways of lowering the total cost of delivering global support to their customers. SDL aspires to provide solutions to manage global content, which means managing all global content within an enterprise corporation and managing the complex translation supply chain, enabling the world to communicate in the chosen language of the customer – whatever that language will be. What greater role can a company have than helping the world communicate?



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