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It is not MT but Cloud that is turning the translation industry upside down

by Rikkert Engels, on Nov 25, 2019 9:27:56 AM

The rise of MT and how it impacts translation is on the agenda at all translation conferences. Automation and connectors are nowadays also a hot topic. As concrete example, we had to close registration for our 2 webinars within a few days as max capacity was reached.

But this misses the bigger change. The major shift in translation is not MT. It is an enormous improvement in efficiency, but with more or less the same process. The real change is driven by cloud adoption. It is the cloud that has started to change the industry upside down. Let me explain. The cloud caters for a paradigm shift how things are done. The cloud is built for eco-systems, while on premise is ideal for vendor lock in.


Serving a client for many years is the core strategy of all providers, whether you deliver services, technology or both. In the on premise world, this was relatively easy to accomplish. You tell the client you have an open architecture and that everything is built with open standards, then you build a few customizations and integrations and the client is locked for years. Open standards? Have you ever asked as client what open standard exactly? There is no open standard!! Take Tapicc as an example. That could be an open standard but so far, it looks like Xillio is the lone wolf embracing it.

The cloud is fundamentally changing this. In the cloud, open is a reality and is demanded from the clients. I was recently at the Gartner IT expo and they advised all 7000 CIO’s in the room to never ever get yourself into the position to buy a monolithic solution. I would argue that 90-95% of current translation technology solutions will not get the CIO approval for renewal. Luckily for the current translation technology providers, it usually does not reach the CIO for approval. But for how long?

Modern cloud first solutions like Uber or Airbnb are built on digital eco-systems. And translation is heading there as well. There are many examples of front runners in the industry. Intento, Be Lazy, Taus DQF and Systran are great examples of a modern eco-system approach within translation.

Another fundamental reason why modern cloud solutions are open is that they are mostly built on open solutions. Any new app is essentially a combination of open API’s, aggregators and own development. The combination of the three leads to a unique value add. If it is built on open technology, it is a lot easier to be open first yourselves as well. This is also the main reason why new technology is gaining market share so quickly and the older ones are having so much trouble catching up. Older technology providers have an obligation to support existing clients, but also have to be in the cloud. They often solve this by building a wrapper around existing legacy and call it cloud. This is not to disqualify them. It is often the only way for them to support both use cases. New modern solutions do not have that problem. They start designing with open API’s and aggregators from day 1 and are as such open from Day 1. The wrapper solutions can’t be open as the core of the solution is not open.

Cloud adoption leads to an eco-system approach. And although the language industry works very well within its own eco system, the eco system is built on relations. Not on technology. All major players offer everything on their own. The common path to get to the top 10 is to own the client, have your own solution, your own MT, your own connectors, your own TMS etc etc. That is changing and that will set the translation industry up side down.