What matters most

The latest trends and developments in the translation industry

A conversation with Meinrad Reiterer

Where is the translation industry going? It’s a question MEINRAD’s founder and CEO Meinrad Reiterer is eager to explore. During his 30 years as a translation service provider, the picture has changed considerably. Recently he has identified a clear trend towards machine translation and interfaces which enable agile integration of client systems with the software used by translation agencies.

As in other industries, time hasn’t stood still in the world of translation. It’s hard to imagine now that 30 years ago translations were ordered and sent by fax, and CAT tools only existed in a very limited sense. There were translation memory systems, but they were viewed with great scepticism – now they’re an established and crucial part of the translation process.

Machine translation makes its mark

It’s a similar story with machine translation: rightly mocked at first, now there’s no avoiding the subject. The benefits of artificial intelligence can’t be denied, and machine translation is making a bigger and bigger impact on the industry. MT engines are constantly being developed and enhanced with new features, with their adaptability and integration of terminology hugely improving in recent years. And it’s not just the range of available MT engines that’s growing – more and more CAT tools are being updated to incorporate the results from multiple engines, using a sophisticated algorithm running in the background to use the best result each time. The aim is to help translators and post-editors deliver larger translations more quickly.

Automation and integration

Another noticeable development over the last few years is that integration of client systems (authoring systems, CMSs, PIM systems etc.) with the software used by their translation partner is becoming more and more important (keyword: interfaces) The aim is to tailor the translation process to suit the client’s workflows, to minimize the amount of manual work required for both parties. Not only does this save time and money, it also reduces the risk of mistakes.

It’s clear that other aspects of the value chain – such as technology, consulting, integration and automation – are becoming just as important as the translation itself. Clients want optimized processes and as little manual work as possible, a trend that can be seen in the increasing numbers of people actively asking for these kinds of solutions.

Adapting to specific translation workflows

The challenge is to select and configure the systems you want to be integrated. In very few cases are there one-size-fits-all solutions: even “off the shelf” options for common authoring and content management systems usually need to be adapted. A website hosted in WordPress, for example, can be structured very differently, and this needs to be borne in mind when integrating the software. That means the amount of programming required will vary from one system to another.But interfaces can be created for (almost) all systems, whether they’re off the shelf or customized. Here are some of the systems where translation interfaces have already been successfully created: 

  • Authoring systems such as Schema ST4
  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • TYPO3
  • Marketo
  • SharePoint
  • and others

And there’s increasing demand for GIT integration (especially GitLab and GitHub), which enables agile translation of software texts, MadCap Flare projects, Help & Manual projects, FrameMaker files and lots of other text-based formats (xml, html, xliff). These interfaces allow translation projects to be launched more quickly, which speeds up the overall process and saves clients lots of time. It’s a comparatively simple way to integrate systems, and it’s worthwhile for everyone who frequently needs translations delivered as quickly as possible.

The industry consolidates

In recent years another trend that has emerged is the consolidation of the translation market. There’s a growing gap between large translation agencies geared towards delivering huge projects at low prices (with quality often taking a back seat) and smaller and medium-sized agencies specializing in particular fields. The latter keep pace with new technology as it develops, but they also set great store by producing high-quality translations, optimizing workflows and consulting with clients. So various providers are available, and the agency that’s most suitable will vary depending on the requirements of each project and client.

Specialist translators who know how to use the tools

Speaking of being suitable, the constant flux in the translation industry can make it hard to find translators with the right qualifications. That doesn’t just mean having the language skills and knowledge of the respective specialist field – translators should also be familiar with the latest technology and software tools so that they can produce accurate translations quickly. Finding these gems is one of the main challenges for translation agencies.

The ongoing issue of terminology in the translation process

Last but not least, businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of terminology management. Globalization demands a multilingual corporate language, and terminology has a key role to play. As well as saving clients considerable amounts of money in their translation projects, professional terminology management helps ensure consisting phrasing and a better image as a result. And modern tools and technology make terminology management a lot more straightforward than it used to be. For example, the QTerm tool is a popular and simple way to get started with managing terminology.

The lesson from all this is unmistakable: the industry is moving towards optimizing how technology is used in order to accelerate the translation process and give clients maximum value for money. So translation agencies have to keep their finger on the pulse.


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Main image: © Rene Knabl