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Archive for the ‘Machine translation’ Category

Last article on Linkedin

I’ve just written an article on Linkedin about our new API for post-edited machine translation. Enjoy it! Translating, fast and slow

Written by Diego Bartolome

17/03/2015 at 09:49

Innova o desaparece

He escrito este artículo para el blog de GALA… Innovate or Disappear.

The world changes so fast. Industrial revolutions took several decades to spread, but nowadays disruptive innovations become available worldwide in a matter of months. This is the age of speed. The models describing change are no longer linear but exponential. If you are leading an organization, you need to redefine yourself in real time to keep up with competition that might not yet be known. The sustainability of your company may be at stake.

When we were kids, we all had the necessary skills to innovate: questioning, observing, associating, networking, and experimenting. Maybe because of education, the intensity of each is somehow lost during our youth, and when we become adults, only some lucky ones such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos can create companies that disrupt entire industries. Certainly, those inspiring leaders do not have an extreme performance for every skill, but rather a fruitful combination or the right DNA.

Innovators are usually continuous questioners who enjoy asking lots of questions that challenge the status quo. As we learned from the Toyota Production System invented by Taiichi Ohno, you must ask Why at least five times to find the real cause of a problem. Many managers tend to ask Why just once, which implies that they patch problems without any real change or improvement. Another good question is What if. Leading by questioning usually leads to new insights and directions that might have been previously disregarded because of fear.

Observe. Everything. With intensity. If we do that, new ideas might arise to improve the way we do things in our own company. We must see life as if everything was new and continue to be surprised by everything that surrounds us. Just like when you were a kid, when everything was so new it was challenging to keep up. Can you see things others can’t? You should never stop learning, and don’t be afraid of surprises that might be closer than you expect. Just open your eyes.

Many innovations come today from associating, i.e. connecting ideas from different fields into the one we know best. This is T-Type knowledge, where only a little is known about many different fields, and wide know-how of a particular area. The best innovations are located at the intersection of several disciplines.  Some experts define creativity as the ability to connect things. So play around and enrich what you do with ideas from other fields.

Networking is also a key to successful innovation. Get to know people, and talk about their passions and things you could do together. Build trust among the people you know, and create something of worth with them. Certainly, people like you are easy to connect with, but people that are completely different might become your most innovative partners. Attend industry conferences (such as GALA’s upcoming event in Istanbul) but learn also from people in other fields. You’ll never regret it.

Last but not least, experimentation is the first step to making things happen. Wanna-be doers just think about their ideas, fall in love with them, but never go beyond that, creating zero value for society. If you want to achieve something and improve the world, you need to start playing, experimenting, breaking things, and asking for forgiveness rather than permission. This experimentation will help you validate your hypotheses, and will show you what works and what doesn’t. You never know until you try.

In my session at GALA 2014 in Istanbul, I’ll discuss how to add these innovative skills to your organization. In preparation for this session, you may wish to read the book The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen. And if you want to share your experience with innovation at your company, be sure to attend KnowledgeFest with me!

Written by Diego Bartolome

16/03/2014 at 00:10

Customized Machine Translation: the Path to Success

No doubt, you have used one of the many online machine translators (MT) to translate a short text or a web page. If you didn’t speak the target language, you probably looked at the result and thought, “Well, that French looks like good enough to me!” On the other hand, if you did speak the target language, you probably thought, “MT doesn’t work. This isn’t the quality I want to offer my customers. MT produces awful results. MT is the enemy that will put me out of business.”

 However, online MT might not be the best approach to solve your pains (or your customers’). Nowadays, you can select among several MT providers that offer a wide variety of solutions ranging from rule-based MT (e.g. Systran or Lucy Software) to the best-of-breed statistical MT (e.g. tauyou, Asia Online or Safaba), or you can even develop a system yourself using Moses, Joshua, Apertium, or any other open-source software. Your decision depends mainly on your available resources and the time to market. Now might be already too late.

 After choosing the engine, there are languages that work best with MT. If we take English as the source, translating into Latin Languages with MT can lead you to realistic productivity increases above 200% with a customized statistical MT in a controlled environment. On the other side, languages such a Polish, Arabic, or Chinese yield to the worse results, although still with some minor productivity gains. The general rule here is that the closer the languages, the better the results, no matter if the engine is statistical or rule-based. You shall measure everything you can, ranging from post-editing time, subjective evaluation, and metrics such as the Word Error Rate or the Post-editing distance.

 The domain you choose is also relevant, since it has an impact on the quality. The domain might be decided by your customer, although it is a better decision if you decide based on your overall revenue, your skills, and the domain results. Since it is easy to try and see how good it works, take your decisions based on available data. In our experience, technical domains, as well as legal or medical, yield to significantly better results than marketing or news. The metrics you will be extracting from your projects will tell you where to focus your efforts.

 Integrating a new tool in your workflow is never straightforward, because people need to change the way they work. In that sense, the less number of steps, the better. Thanks to current APIs such as the one defined by TAUS, MT systems can be plugged into any CAT tool fairly easily. However, other differentiated workflows can also provide the best adaptation and use of resources. Many of our customers first pre-translate the files, and then they run that file through MT, which will translate the remaining segments. This approach provided optimum results before the widespread availability of APIs. Choosing an API or the pre-processing step depends mainly on the CAT tool, your current process, and the translation speed of your MT provider.

 After putting MT into production, the key task is to optimize the engines and provide automatic feedback so that they can improve over time. The first one, and maybe the most important one, is correcting the errors translators feel are important. After that, you can analyze the metrics and develop rules either at the input or at the output to improve the quality. The most common approach is to feed the engines with the updated translation memories (TMs) periodically. At the beginning of the implementation this is done more often (e.g. weekly), and after around 3 months, updates become less important because the quality will improve, as metrics will state.

 We have not mentioned the most important aspect of human quality MT, which is the post-editing staff. Certainly, the skills required by post-editors differ slightly from the translators. That is the reason why organizations such as GALA are promoting initiatives such as the GALA Talent Program. Post-editors should be given clear guidelines, they shall know whatis expected from their job. For instance, a client translating e-commerce listings has a clear description of the types of edits they should do and the maximum amount of time that should be invested in any item. Regarding payment, a fair scheme is needed where everybody wins: end client, LSP, and freelance. Do not simply apply a rate reduction that might lead to jobs rejection and decrease in the morale of your team.

Nowadays, we see many more types of content than we used to – e-mail, multilingual chat, social networking, document filtering and selection, etc. – and more are sure to come in the future. Some of the customers with translation needs in these areas would be quite happy with a customized MT solution that produces “good enough” quality without any human intervention. Your best option is not to try to convince them they need better quality (and refuse to use MT at all), but rather to embrace the chance to diversify your portfolio with MT-based services that bring new, recurring revenues for your company. The business model is also a key aspect of the implementation of MT in your organization. Think about it in advance!

(This article was published in Dragosfer in 2013)

Written by Diego Bartolome

15/02/2014 at 10:34

2013 ATC Conference

Being at the ATC Conference was fun. Lots of things learned and many new people met. I believe that this is one of the most important points when you go to conferences, learning and sharing. Those events that enable it are a success, you have them all in your mind.

I presented “New Business Models for the Translation Industry” (almost 700 views in 2 weeks!) which tried to challenge the status quo and propose new business models that enable Language Service Providers (LSPs) evolve, or even not die in the future. Any industry that does not adapt itself and addresses the needs from the customers will risk its future positioning. Newcomers and disruptors will take the lead and others will be forgotten.

It was interesting to see the reaction from freelance translators to the last slide, which intends to start a debate about the future, to see if a 0.00 price per word could exist in this industry. Of course, I’m not stating that freelancers won’t be paid, or that machine translation will take the lead, but rather that LSPs and other companies shall try to find innovative ways to generate more revenue. Much more than now, which will ultimately be benefical for all the translation and localization value chain.

It’s obvious that good translations have an impact on sales. Good human translation is more important than ever. And more content is to be translated. The future is yours, you choose.

Written by Diego Bartolome

15/10/2013 at 13:19

EliaND Munich

I was in Germany on May 2nd to attend my second Elia ND conference, which had a very interesting schedule. unfortunately, I could only make it on Thursday, but it was a great opportunity to learn new things, talk to friends, and also meet new ones.

Diego @ EliaNDWe had a presentation on our fruitful cooperation with Nova Language Services, which you can find here. The main idea we wanted to share was that another model for an LSP is needed, and in order to reach that point, a cooperation strategy might be relevant to sustain your competitive advantage. You can’t do everything on your own. After I introduced the theoretical framework for business model generation based on lean start-up principles, Guillem reviewed the three main outcomes for Machine Translation, our API, and fast social media translation. In case you are interested, let us know.

Looking forward to the next conference in Malta!

(btw, thanks Renato Beninatto for the photo)

Written by Diego Bartolome

06/05/2013 at 14:59

Publicado en Machine translation

Tagged with

TMS Inspiration Days in Krakow

I was last Thursday and Friday in Krakow for the TMS Inspiration Days, which was a fruitful experience. The first day was about sales, business models, coaching, and scaling the company, and I found it really interesting. The main outcome: define a sales process at your company so as not to be so dependant on people. The second day was more technical, but good to learn how important are ERPs such as XTRF for the translation industry. Although there might be some learning curve, then you can only cut down costs and increase margin by automation.

Diego Bartolomé in KrakowI didn’t talk about machine translation (MT) this time, but rather about business models, how to analyze yours, define where you want to go, and then plan the actions to go from one point to the next one. It is the first time I give this talk in an industry conference, since in GALA Miami it was part of the KnowledgeFest. Of course, there are things where I can improve, but the general feeling was that the tool is useful for boosting your business. All together, we analyzed an example to transition from an SLV to an MLV, a challenging change.

I also run before each conference day, this time alone, 10 km on Thursday morning and 10.5km on Friday. I enjoy this way to see the city, Krakow’s river (Vistula) is an impressive zone to go running.

Good to get to know all of you!

Update (May 2013): You can find the photos of the event here.

Written by Diego Bartolome

21/04/2013 at 22:42

GALA Miami 2013

Last week, I attended GALA 2013 Conference in Miami, my first year as Board Member. Last year in Monaco I already enjoyed the learn & share environment, so I was expecting the event, in spite of the high number of trips I have already plan for first semester 2013. The next ones: Krakow for the TMS Inspiration Days, Munich for ELIA ND, and Boston for the ALC conference. And Localization World London and TAUS Executive Forum are also interesting events to go, I hope I can make it.

Everything started on Friday evening, with an informal dinner with the Board Members that were already there, Hans, Fabiano, and Robert. It was nice! And then we saw also Joël and Terena, who arrived later that day. It wasn’t until the next day when we met Veronique, and Kim came later on Sunday. A pleasure spending time with these great people who are leading the Association. The Board meeting was the chance to get to know them better and discuss the present and future of  the organization. I think that listening to everyone’s opinions will lead to the optimum choices! We are the voice of the industry.

GALA 2013On Sunday, we had a wonderful opening reception, where everyone could start socializing and meeting the +250 attendees. I think that this social events are great to relax and talk without the business pressure with all the people. Without them, GALA conferences will be just another conference, but the unique venues combined with the high number of breaks allow to meet a higher number of people tan in other places. People that are eager to learn, improve, and share experiences. In this sense, the Speed Networking was also impressive, but the most interesting place was the boat for the dinner. Socializing with a nice view on Miami is something we wil never forget.

The program was impressive as well, congrats to the committee. I could attend a high number of outstanding sessions. I learned a lot. I shared also some experience. Together with Seprotec, we presented a new approach for Spanish into Latin American Spanish that was enjoyed by the attendees. It’s not the classical machine translation system, but a new approach to reduce the costs of approaching the Latin American market. The presentation is available here.

One of the things I bring home is that the industry is changing at a fast speed. Technology is driving most of these changes, but others are related to processes, to sales, or to business focus. Even, giving a higher appeal to what others have been doing for several years might lead your company to  success, as Hogarth showed us, while some attendees complained. The key is showing the value of what you do. And finding those customers that are willing to pay for it. The battle of the price per word is over. The battle of new value propositions is just starting. It’s up to you to start moving into that direction. Find the converge of what you can be the best at, your passion, and what can generate revenue with high profit. Then, just move fast. Very fast.

We could see this on the KnowledgeFest that was held on Wednesday. Sales and Marketing tables were full of people willing to learn, to enhance the way they are doing business. In this sense, my proposal on business model generation also fits there, as a tool to plan strategically before starting. Maybe GALA is not the place to do business, but to improve your business. And this session outdoors helped us broaden our strategic view on the industry and the operations of our companies. I think it was very valuable.

By the way, the 6:45 running sessions with friends (Robert, Véronique, Reinhard, Tea, Lucia, and Don) were the perfect start of the day! Thank you. And thanks as well to Allison, Amy, Laura, Doreen, and Hans, for a great conference. Bravo. Next year: Istanbul.

To do note: improve our sales process in our main target area for 2013.

Written by Diego Bartolome

25/03/2013 at 22:55

End of the year

and these are the things we’ve done during the semester at tauyou <language technology>.

Have a great 2013! It depends on you.

Written by Diego Bartolome

31/12/2012 at 09:49


This October comes full of events for me, from which I’ll try to learn, as always.

The first one comes this Tuesday, 11th, at 12h,at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), where I’ll explain during 90 minutes my entrepreneurship experience for the NLP students in the TICOM Master. Besides, I’ll give some hints on the basics of machine translation. If you are interested to come, please let me know.

On 18th October, I’ll go to Germany to give a speech in TcWorld/Tekom on the usage of machine translation solutions in language service providers. Hope to see you there!

And the last thing by now is my cooperation in a new series of the dialogues among entrepreneurs in Tecnocampus, where we will get to know Manel Sarasa better.

Written by Diego Bartolome

08/10/2011 at 22:00

SDL acquires Language Weaver

On July 15th, it was announced that SDL acquired Language Weaver, the leader in statistical machine translation for US$42.5 million. It’s interesting to see that the turnover was US$12.2 million in 2009 ($1 million loss). This is good news for the machine translation industry.

With respect to Systran, ProMT, Linguatec and others, Language Weaver was one of the pioneers in applying statistical machine translation to the real world, long time before Google or Asia Online entered the market. However, their turnover is not really impressive, which shows that machine translation still has to expand the market and reach the tornado. This is also positive for the players already involved in enabling communication among people and companies.

In my opinion, the quality of any machine translation system cannot be obtained without the help and deployment in Language Service Providers (LSP), that is the reason why Ta with you is positioned as a technology provider for LSPs. At this point, machine translation is a serious tool to boost productivity and turnover of translation agencies, as well as a help to companies who need a fast and pretty accurate translation of certain types of documents. From the current market size of around $200 million, the machine translation industry has still a long way to go.

SDL might think that with this acquisition and their Trados monopoly, they will retain a vast majority of the market. Instead, from their history one tends to imagine that it is a really the opportunity for competitors, since it is not a good strategic decision to rely on a single provider for most of the tasks in your workflow. Besides, their systems cannot be perfectly customized, which is one of the clear advantages of machine translation solutions, and confidentiality might not always be guaranteed.

Some of the most important reactions in the industry below.

Kirti Vashee

David Grunwald

Common Sense Advisory

Tim Walters

Renato Beninatto

We will keep on working harder to reach those market niches others are not addressing, more news in our webpage soon …

Written by Diego Bartolome

22/07/2010 at 18:04

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