SDL Automated Translation Survey 2009

For the second consecutive year, the recently consolidated under one brand SDL (news,site) releases the results from the 2009 Automated Translation Survey. Read on below for all the statistics.

Automated translation, also known as machine translation, is the concept of using software to translate content from a source language into any number of target languages. The idea of using automated translation for some amount of content is gaining momentum throughout many global companies. How much momentum? SDL asks the same question and offers the results of its Automated Translation Survey.

Who Responded to the Survey?

For those of you who think vertically, the results represent (in order of significance):

  1. Information Technology (IT) and Software
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Life Sciences
  4. Electronics and High Technology
  5. Media and Publishing

For those of you who think regionally, the percentage of respondents breaks down as such:

  • 57% from North America
  • 27% from Europe
  • 10% from Asia
  • 6% from Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa

For those of you who think brand first, the respondents are from the following companies:

  • Wolters Kluwer
  • Océ
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Honda
  • Kellogg's
  • Oracle
  • Agfa
  • Netgear
  • Intel
  • Garmin
  • Nokia
  • Adobe

What did the Survey Reveal?

  • 28% of the surveyed organizations are either using or planning to use automated translation, a 5% increase since the inaugural version of the survey
  • According to 76% of respondents, concerns about quality continue to the key roadblock to adoption
  • Compared to two years ago, 50% of the surveyed organizations are more likely to use automated translation
  • Due to the aforementioned concerns about quality, 37% of respondents would not use a public Internet-based service; 28% consider the usage of a public service to be inappropriate
  • Technical documentation is the leading candidate content type for automated translation at 60%
  • 57% of the surveyed organizations are more likely to adopt automated translation when coupled with human post-editing because of improved quality
  • French, Italian, German and Spanish (FIGS) are the dominant languages in demand, according to 80% of respondents

For specific statistical results, please see the link to the formal report below.

What Does it All Mean?

As the global economy continues to expand and the economic borders between countries continue to blur, making your content available both to employees and customers in their native language becomes vital. In other words, the need is only going to grow.

Unfortunately, complete reliance on an automated translation solution is not ready to meet this growing need. Until the software catches up, organizations will augment their investment in automated translation with human translators for post-editing.

Opportunities abound for:

  • Existing vendors to improve their translation services
  • Startup companies to come in and provide a better service than the entrenched players
  • Translators to make money either freelancing or full-time as part of the post-editing efforts

Where to go for more information?

The full report is available from SDL.com (registration required). Download the PDF, take a look, and then let us know in the comments what you think about automated translation. Is it a viable business or will quality concerns always provide a ceiling?