Looking Back on 2015 For SDL and The Translation Industry

Update October 9th 2019: This blog refers to adaptive/statistical machine translation, which has now been replaced by SDL’s powerful neural machine translation (NMT) solution. To learn more about NMT please click here.

Another year has flown by. It does not seem that long ago since I was writing a blog on the 30th anniversary of SDL Trados. And yet here I am again, the 31st year of our company has passed and I am trying to collect some thoughts and observations on another interesting year for us and the translation industry.

Let me focus inwardly for a little while. In 2015 as a company we have focused on both product innovations and continuing to improve how we do things.

SDL in 2015

The most obvious place to start is the launch of SDL Trados Studio 2015, which brings many new features to our customers. We always try to balance the benefits we can deliver to our very diverse user base; project managers, translators, reviewers, corporations, freelancers and translation agencies. Everyone has slightly different needs and with Studio 2015 we wanted to bring improvements to all our customers. From the new and improved SDL AutoSuggest 2.0 which focuses on translation speed, Retrofit which will really help project managers and TQA for reviewers which is something demanded by corporations and LSPs, there is something for everyone.

The innovation did not stop with our flagship product as we introduced SDL Language Cloud, our online platform to deliver Machine Translation. With its vertical engine and personalized terminology, Language Cloud is making Machine Translation more and more sophisticated. Another ‘online’ launch came with the release of SDL Studio GroupShare Cloud, to facilitate better productivity and efficiency across teams.

One of the most thrilling (strong word!) innovations I have seen this year, which we showcased during our autumn roadshows, is Language Learning. Language Learning will enable mass and effortless personalization for machine translation. The ultimate goal remains to enable every piece of content to be translated in every language. Of course an almost impossible dream, but with developments like Language Learning I feel it can make a real difference on how much we could translate. Watch this space in 2016!

We also ventured into new areas: the first trial of a simple translation editor, dedicated to part-time translators and people who do the occasional non-paid translation.

Over the years I have been a firm believer that it is not only the product that matters but it is also about the whole experience people have working with us and what we can contribute to the community. We are certainly not finished, but I think we made some significant progress on how we interact with the industry and our customers.

We have introduced two customer success teams: one dedicated to corporations and translation agencies, as well as one dedicated to freelancers. We want to try and make it easier for people to get in touch with us and resolve small issues. Of course this is not a replacement for a proper support contract, but it is certainly a helpful step forward. We have also launched a new community called SDL Community, where people can ask questions, resolve issues and interact with other users. Our SDL Roadshows attracted more people than ever with over 3,000 people joining our worldwide events during the year. Attendees had the chance to get an update on industry and product trends, get questions answered and of course network with fellow translators.

Our goal to create informative content for customers has continued, introducing new speakers to our webinars, roadshows, eBooks and videos. We set about increasing our content creation with an effort to educate on the value of translation to ensure customers can make the most of our products and share tips and industry insights for everyone to benefit from.

The translation industry in 2015

Looking more generally at the translation industry I suppose you could say the consolidation trends have continued with acquisitions of larger agencies still continuing, talking to people at conferences and roadshows the pressure on rates seem to continue and corporations are nonetheless continuing to drive localization into new language pairs and for new content types.

The debate of cloud vs. no cloud continues and I really can’t see how this trend could evolve over the years. Confidentiality is still a firm objection in using the cloud and the global news channels continue to add to peoples concerns on whether they are willing to store their work on external cloud systems. What was assumed to be an unstoppable force seems to be encountering a slowdown.

Most importantly I want to thank all our customers and people who have interacted with us. Thank you for choosing to work with us, for participating in debates and forums, for helping fellow users, for taking the time to join us at our events, for giving us videos and testimonials or working in a focus group to help us improve our products and websites. I wish you all a great 2016! There is an exciting future ahead of us and I am looking forward to another energizing, educational and collaborative year!