Saturday, December 29, 2012

Annual Review–Most Popular Posts of 2012

“Blogs are about sharing with authenticity. A good blog can help you really connect deeply with your audience in a meaningful way because the content is not only relevant but insightful and personal. I think most enterprises miss that point. When you do it right, your customers will walk away not only having learned something new but will also feel much more connected to your brand.David Armano EVP, Global Innovation & Integration at Edelman Digital
It seems like it was a just a moment ago that I summarized the most interesting blog posts of 2011 but here we are again and the world has not ended. I was not as active writing in 2012 as I was in 2011 as I felt that I had said much of what I had to say, and really there is only so much one can really write about machine translation without being repetitive. The topic has had more coverage across the industry and is perhaps slightly better understood now than it was last year. I am limiting the list to the top 6 since I had fewer new posts this year.  Since Google has killed the PostRank service I am now reduced to only providing the most popular list of blog posts. PostRank used to give us much better insight into the broader influence of any web content and helped identify seminal and influential rather than simply popular content. I resolve to be more active in the new year if I have ideas for new material and I am always open to suggestions. There are still many misconceptions about MT and I think that it would be useful to cover this in more detail and perhaps I will delve into that in 2013. 

Here is the list of most popular posts in order of popularity:

  1. Exploring Issues Related to Post-Editing MT Compensation This article continues to get attention today even though it was written early in the year and it still shows up regularly in the top 3 for every week. The post has links to several interesting comments on post-editing and I think this is possibly one of the reasons why it continues to be popular as it gathers different opinions and viewpoints in a useful and unbiased way. The popularity of this post suggests that this is an important issue to resolve in a fair and equitable way to enable broader MT adoption. All parties involved need to work together to establish trusted and equitable compensation for this process. I hope that others will step forward to share opinions and approaches that might further the dialogue. It would be useful for translators especially to step forward and suggest ways to do this more efficiently and accurately. For example this post by Jason Hall shows that simply equating MT output quality to TM matches may not make sense, and that leveraging MT is entirely different from leveraging TM.

  2. The Moses Madness and Dead Flowers This post was written very late in 2011 and thus it’s popularity was not reflected in the 2011 list. But it is another post that has continued to see regular traffic as more people wade through the Moses technology and realize that “free” and “DIY” is a still really a pipe dream with MT. Being able to whip up some sort of an MT system by throwing data into a computer has become very easy but the technology is still very complex and hairy, and requires at least "some" fundamental knowledge for any real success. I remain very skeptical about any instant MT approaches and I think we will continue to see a market where you get what you pay for. I would avoid any LSP whose strategy is based around instant MT solutions.

  3. Emerging Language Industry & Language Technology Trends This was a post that seemed to strike a chord and it very rapidly rose to being one of the most popular posts of the year. Thanks to all those who shared their opinions to provide broader context. In case you missed it you may also wish to take a look at Translation Guy’s humorous take on the post. You may also find the Asia Online Trends and Translation Industry predictions interesting and you can access the webinar and slides through the link provided.

  4. A Short Guide to Measuring and Comparing Machine Translation Engines This post provided specific and constructive advice on using BLEU scores correctly to assess your MT systems in a fair and accurate way. I see BLEU scores continually being used to mislead gullible users on a regular basis and there were even some presentations at the AMTA 2012 conference that claimed systems having .90 or 90 which to my mind is only possible if you cheat. In short BLEU measures the quality of MT system output against one or more human reference translations of the same material. It needs to be done carefully if you want meaningful and accurate results. It is possible to calculate BLEU scores on two human translations of the same material, and even there I have never seen a score higher than .7 or 70 since humans do things quite differently. There is a great discussion on the many issues with BLEU in this article and I recommend it so that you can understand the increasing number of discussions where it is referenced today.

  5. The Relationship Between Productivity and Effective Use of Translation Technology MT should only be used when it actually provides measurable productivity advantages. Higher quality MT systems generally provide much higher return on investment (ROI) and this post explores this issue in some detail. MT is a means to build long-term production advantage, but only when you do it well and if you are going to invest in this technology my advice is to do it as well as possible. Most of the short cuts will lead to dead-ends and remember that with MT, you are competing with smart people at Microsoft and Google who are doing the best they can for a general internet user population. Most translators will likely prefer to use these "free" engines to crappy LSP produced Moses and RbMT engines.

  6. Understanding Post-Editing  This is one of several posts on the subject of post-editing. This is a subject that is worth exploring more as there are also many misconceptions about the nature of the process and it would be useful for more voices to air both good and bad post-editing experiences so others can learn. Jost Zetsche has written about this in some detail in his newsletter but the scope and understanding of the role of language experts is still evolving and it is a worthwhile discussion to continue. I have not seen anything really useful coming out of conferences so I suspect the best stuff on the subject will happen in blogs and LinkedIn discussion forums.
I once again invite any interested guest authors who might wish to use this blog as a way to share an idea or an opinion on the translation industry. (There is a good blend of buyers, LSPs and translators who watch this blog). I do not seek only those who agree with me to apply to do this, and in fact I hope that some who disagree will also step forward. I have always thought that it is useful to hear many different opinions to better understand a subject. So please don’t hesitate to send me contributions that you think might be interesting to the audience that has been following this blog. I thank you for your support and I hope that the content here will continue to earn your interest and comments to extend the discussion beyond my thoughts on key translation automation related issues.

It is also interesting to note that some older posts continue to strike a chord with readers and remain active in terms of visibility because the themes are longer lived and also perhaps because they ring true. The original post on standards, the analysis of why Google changed the use model of their MT systems and some of the posts that discuss the reaction to automation or industry disintermediation were also posts that generate continuing interest and continue to show up high in the list in Google Analytics.

I found a very interesting blog post that I think is worth a read, as it points to the changes that widespread information availability and ease of access creates to traditional commerce by socially engaged human beings. There is also a link to the research data from Mary Meeker on the changing online world that is worth at least a quick look. I think we are heading back to world where it is more important to understand how people connect rather than assume that technology and data will solve every problem known to man. I have always preferred the emphasis on Why? rather than  How?

Commerce in 2013 is about integrating the whole experience around the customer -- social, local, and mobile, bricks and clicks, in real life, in real time, and over time.  
Finally, I want to share a beautiful piece of music by Mercedes Bahleda that I discovered through Pandora  - the video is also very evocative and sublime with scenes of inter-species communication and a langorous swim dance. Those of you who find the sight of a female human breast offensive (there are unfortunately many in America who actually do) may wish to avoid actually looking at the video. I suggest you turn the volume up and play this on good speakers for maximum effect.

Happy New Year – I wish you health, happiness and joy

I don’t tell the murky world
To turn pure.
I purify myself
And check my reflection
In the water of the valley brook.

Zen Master Ryokan

“If the light’s not in you, you’re in the dark.”
Marty Rubin

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Understanding the Translation Buyer

In my last post I talked about various viewpoints on the emerging trends in the industry and I noticed that the post very quickly established itself amongst the most popular of the year. In fact second only to a March posting on post-editing compensation, a subject which continues to draw ongoing attention. In many ways this post is an expansion on some of the points that were raised in the last post.

When one considers the general focus of translation work done by the professional translation industry, I think we see that a large part of the work is related to translating content that facilitates and enables international commerce. The world of localization, to a great extent focuses on the content that is closely related to the final packaging of products that are sold in international markets. This focus is the software and documentation localization mindset that is at the heart of the largest translation agencies work in the business translation industry. So much so that one company chose to name themselves SDL, though most of the other agencies in the industry have exactly the same focus.

Much of the content (which is just a word to summarize a particular collection of words) that gets translated is mandatory and necessary to be able to participate in target international markets. So most global market focused enterprises translate what they absolutely must, to legally participate in key target markets, some do more,  but for the most part only what is absolutely necessary gets done because it is slow and expensive. An example of doing the least amount possible: Microsoft Office products have a Thai user interface but if you hit the F1 online help button you will only see help in English! But everybody understands some amount of translation MUST be done to be viable in international markets e.g. Honda could not sell cars in Europe without creating some amount of final customer (aka end-user) and distribution channel material about their products in “key” languages.

To my observation this traditional content is 1) marketing content (brochures and high-level product descriptive web content, legal liability, some advertising) and 2) product packaging related material since most customers and some governments require that imported products have user documentation and other basic service information be contained in the package that international customers buy, preferably in their language. The SDL mindset is a result of the increasing importance of software products and services in the world in the last 20 years. In fact, we see few translation agencies (LSPs) older than 20 years old in this industry. This has resulted in a world where “translation projects” are often outsourced to agencies (LSPs) today as it does not make economic sense for companies to build internal translation task focused teams unless they have ongoing and continuous needs to translate material.  And as we know it is still quite messy to coordinate translators across many languages to release products at the same time across the globe.  While there is change afoot across many dimensions, most of this traditional localization will continue, though I suspect that much of the paper documentation will get thinner and much more content will move to the web. Today global enterprises have to seriously consider translating new and continuously flowing text and video related to their products offerings that is accessed via tablets, smartphones and PCs. It has become important to translate “external” content that customers peruse and use to make purchase decisions and also provide a much richer set of information to enable self-service with products after the purchase.  

We live in an age, where increasingly marketing and corporate-speak is challenged, undermined and sometimes even seen as disingenuous and false. (Raise your hand if you trust and respect corporate press releases about their amazing “ground-breaking” products).  Today we see customer voices rise above the din of corporate messaging, and taking control of branding and corporate reputations with their own “authentic” discussions of actual customer experiences, while marketing departments look on haplessly.  We are also seeing a shift away from corporate controlled top-down marketing messages, to more open uncontrolled customer initiated and driven conversations and some have been saying that the old view of corporate websites cannot succeed anymore. In 2012 global enterprises need to do different things to be successful in building a satisfied and loyal customer base. Corporate marketing messages have gained the same patina as political party propaganda and most customers look elsewhere to determine the real truth about anything they might consider buying. While a few companies are learning the new rules of engagement, many still continue the old way and risk irrelevance. There is growing awareness of these forces of change as we can see from the many discussions related to these trends and the popularity of discussions on disintermediation and change in the translation industry. GALA recently alerted their members of the need to cooperate, collaborate and develop meaningful standards and stated the following:
To respond to these challenges, LSPs, tools providers, content developers, and all players in the language industry need to be smarter than we were in bygone days. We need to cooperate and collaborate, not only because now we truly can, but also because it is the new way of the world. Those in our midst who don’t collaborate with others will soon find themselves losing out on opportunities and falling behind.
Collaboration means more than having a Facebook page, a profile on LinkedIn, some files on Google Drive, and tweeting. The new collaborative paradigm means participants are distributed, peers are connected, work is interactive, and ideas are shared. Innovation goes up, down, and across the supply chain. But real cooperation also requires a certain level of trust. Intuitively humans only collaborate to the extent they trust others. As the ice of the P.C. era melts away, we may see trust building mainly through discussions in social networks and networking at conferences right now, but this is only the beginning of the Social Collaboration era. Over time, more ways will appear to establish trust and form collaborative networks.
The changing dynamics at the broadest level are eloquently described by John Hagel as The Big Shift.  He describes various core assumptions and historic conditions that are being undermined today and I like his advice on how to deal with change. The following is good advice for an industry with 25,000 companies.
If we approach interactions with the zero sum mindset – that there is a fixed quantity of resources that must be distributed and your gain will inevitably be my loss – we virtually ensure that we will end up with short-term transactions and undermine any efforts to build longer-term relationships.  In contrast, if we adopt a positive sum mindset – that through our collaboration we can generate a growing pool of resources – we are likely to be much more successful in building long-term trust based relationships. In turn, this means we will be more effective in participating in the knowledge flows that have the potential to generate the most economic value, thereby creating a virtuous cycle that builds upon itself and generates powerful network effects.

So, if we see that the way the customer gathers information and assesses purchase decisions is changing, we should also understand that the content that will have the most value in helping to build customer relationships and thus international market success is also changing.  Aligning your business processes and strategies with this new reality is likely to be a wise thing to do.  We can see today that while there will still be an ongoing need for the traditional SDL-type of content, there is also high-value content being created in much less controlled ways that could significantly benefit international business initiatives. The graphic below illustrates this. There is great value in identifying content that customers are creating about user experience and product feedback and translating that in addition to traditional localization content. Better yet, global enterprises could encourage this in sponsored forums. We see today that more informal corporate content (e.g. blogs and product discussion forums) and also “external” content created by customers in user forums can be invaluable in helping to build market momentum. A lot of this new high-value content is much more unstructured and fleeting but can still influence customer purchase behavior, so it should be taken seriously and considered worthy of translation through new production approaches like community crowdsourcing or automated translation with carefully tuned MT systems that easily outperform free MT solutions. 
For many global enterprises even internal communications about new products and services are increasingly becoming multilingual so the role of translation can be significantly greater than the limited scope defined by the SDL mindset.  Thus “internal” emails and product design discussions that are embedded in Microsoft Office documents also become very valuable to producing products that are truly localized for different markets, especially if these discussions are global and multilingual. There is probably a role for language translation specialists who can solve these new kinds of problems for global enterprises. Many corporations are attempting to solve these problems on their own since the translation industry is for the most part still only focused on the historical SDL-type solutions. How many LSPs do you know who are involved in translation projects related to customer conversations in social media?
However, the decisions to translate knowledge bases, customer discussion forums or high-value customer created content is probably happening in executive suites rather than in the localization department. Thus it makes sense to learn to understand and speak to the needs and view at this level. The conversation is likely to be quite different from the TM value and word rate discussions that happen with localization departments. (Which I know are also important.) I expect that new translation production models to build success in international markets will involve MT (and other translation automation), crowd sourcing as well as traditional project management. It is very likely that old production models like TEP (Translate-Edit-Proof) will become less important, or just one of several approaches to translation challenges as new collaboration and translation production models gain momentum.I think that the most successful approaches to solving these "new" translation problems will involve a close and constructive collaboration between traditional localization professionals, linguists, MT developers, end-customers and probably others in global enterprise organizations who have never worked in "localization" but are more directly concerned about the quality of the relationship with the final customer across the world. At the end of the day our value as an industry is determined by how useful our input is to the process of building international markets and the requirements for success are changing as we speak.
I will take a stab at describing what qualities might be most appealing to the target buyer who may not even know that the word localization is related to translation. The vendors that would have the most attractive profile with an executive suite buyer (VP Sales, VP Marketing, VP Customer Support, VP Customer Experience, COO, CMO, CFO etc..) would probably have the following characteristics:
  • Be an expert on solving language translation related business problems rather than be just a language service provider (LSP) who manages translation projects of defined bags of words
  • Ability to identify, recruit and retain a superior human translator workforce
  • Ability to understand and participate in the larger customer satisfaction and customer loyalty building dialogue that matters at the C-level and explain how translation contributes to this beneficially
  • Ability to interface with and process and translate critical content in a highly automated workflow as seamlessly as possible
  • Ability to adjust production to business needs i.e. combine and mix TEP, MT, PEMT and Community-based production as required to meet customer needs
  • Ability to articulate and adjust time, quality and cost parameters as necessary to meet different customer requirements rather than force all projects through the same millstone
  • Ability to have a productive and objective discussion on deliverable translation quality across different production methods
  • A commitment to open standards to facilitate data transfer and exchange on a long-term basis so that efforts transfer and scale across information delivery mechanisms (web, tablet, smartphone, documentation)
  • Demonstrated competence and an understanding of developing superior automated translation technology (i.e. beyond building dictionaries and operating Moses in rudimentary way). Preferably better than is possible with free MT on the web or your basic DIY effort.
  • Ability to manage and handle small (single sentence) projects as well as large bulk projects with equal ease and efficiency
  • Ability to respond rapidly to changing customer requirements

It is said that the Winter Solstice of 2012 is a very special time, (actually so special that the planetary alignment we see now apparently only happens once in 26,000 years.The Earth, The Sun and The Center of Galaxy are on the same line at the moment of this Winter Solstice.) and depending on your viewpoint either a time for great new beginnings or a time of final reckoning. Hopefully for most of us this is a time of wonderful and energizing new beginnings and evolution. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Emerging Language Industry & Language Technology Trends

As the year comes to a close, it is sometimes useful to review and look ahead on where things may be going, and even though many of these type of ruminations can be self-indulgent and self-serving, I have decided to throw in my two cents anyway. These are personal opinions on other opinions, and like much of what I do in this blog, this is also a collection of information that I consider most worthwhile to share on this subject of trends.

The translation industry remains a highly fragmented industry with relatively inefficient production and business models. In 2012 we still have over 25,000 language service providers (agencies) of varying quality and professionalism doing the work of business translation across the globe. Efforts to define the final product or service produced by these firms are unsuccessful despite valiant efforts from industry associations.   However, many have been talking about change and disintermediation and many of us are aware that something is afoot. My intent here is to collect and organize different opinions rather than only promote my own and hopefully I succeed in creating a broader clarity on these emerging trends and possibly starting some discussion on this.

A trigger for this post was a conversation with Bob Donaldson who presented on this theme at Translation Forum Russia. I have also added some material gathered at other conferences I attended this year that extends these initial opinions. Bob has simplified my task by gathering and sharing the opinions on key trends of several different viewpoints as summarized below. (I have kept the text exactly as presented in his slides at TFR but you could get clarifications and detail beyond this slide verbiage by directly contacting him). 

Multi-Language LSP Vendor (MLV) Perspective by Renato Beninatto
  • Renato 
  • Rise of Micro translations (interesting response to this point by Luigi Muzii)
  • Outsourcing to translator teams
  • Demand for “long tail” languages

CAT Tools Training Perspective by Angelika Zerfass
  • 654698_r4605693a3f2f3 
  • Terminology Management gaining traction (finally)
  • New content types (twitter) don’t fit old processes
  • File management becoming more complex

Translator Perspective by Jost Zetsche
  • Deep integration of MT into translation workflows
  • Limited lifespan of LSP as (mere) middleman
End Buyer Perspective by Anonymous
  • Demand for continuous translation with very little context (Micro translation)
  • Declining Quality Expectations
  • MT will fill the gaps created by the first two at an ever-increasing price
Single & Regional Language Vendor (SLV/RLV) Perspectives in aggregate
  • Greater usage of MT
  • Multi-faceted approach to quality
  • “Price compression” will drive small/inefficient players out of business
  • “Disintermediation” will show up in various forms
  • Greater demand for self-service portals
Bob Donaldson Top 4 Trends Summary
  • RTEmagicC_Donaldson_Bob_02.jpg 
  • Transition from “Project Orientation” to “Content Stream” orientation
  • Increasing integration of MT at all levels
  • Increasing emphasis on velocity rather than price or quality
  • Increasing reliance on global SLV partners rather than freelancers
All resulting in changing and needed innovation in business models

As I consider all these views, my own sense is that the following trends are increasingly understood to be clear and continue to gain momentum:
  • Business translation is shifting focus from intermittent project work of relatively static content to continuously flowing streams of information that might enhance international business. The old “software and documentation localization” (SDL?) view of the world is becoming a smaller part of the core translation challenges that global enterprises face to be successful in international markets.  There is also a growing awareness that translation should be able to flow from document/video to PC/web to mobile/tablet easily, quickly and efficiently.
  • An expanded view of critical and translation-worthy content that includes more informal corporate content as well as customer generated content and social media conversations about products. Social media has dramatically changed the traditional top-down views of marketing, and this impacts the decisions on what is important to translate as enterprises realize that purchase decisions are being made in social online conversations and information sharing.
  • The importance of automation and collaboration increases. This is more than just MT, it includes greater integration of content flows from the information creation process all the way to information consumption. Successful use of comprehensive automation and collaborative processes will help create meaningful differentiation and competitive advantage amongst LSPs and help identify superior players.
  • The increasing importance of cloud based services and infrastructure to facilitate collaboration and standardization of translation-related informational flows. This will also mean that desktop tools (TM, MT) will become less important over time as usage shifts to the cloud.

On the MT front I expect the following trends, much of this is already in place and also gaining momentum:
  • Increasing awareness amongst translation professionals that domain focused MT produces the best results in terms of production efficiency and productivity gains. We will hear of many more successes of these kinds of focused systems.
  • Increasing understanding of post-editing based translation production and processes. While there will be some or many “premium” translators who refuse to work on PEMT projects, more and more translators and LSPs will learn to work effectively with MT.
  • Continued momentum in the understanding of MT system quality which will result in better PEMT experiences and trusted, fair and equitable compensation practices. This is essential for broader long-term adoption.
  • A shift away from free and instant MT solutions to expert collaboration and expert-built MT systems(Some will say this is self serving and to some extent it is.) It has become increasingly easy to get some sort of MT system into place by throwing some data into a hopper, but very few of these systems provide long-term productivity gains and strategic advantage out-of-the-box. MT in 2012 is still very complex and getting some kind of basic system together quickly should not be equated to building long-term production efficiency. Experience and knowledge about MT system development matter, and the best, i.e. the highest productivity and best overall ROI systems will still come from experts. As Malcolm Gladwell says, “Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.” Experts are people who have built hundreds or thousands of MT systems. Many who experiment with Moses and other instant MT solutions will learn that deep expertise is required to move the system quality beyond the initial engine capabilities and that long-term business advantage only come from continuously improving MT systems. In 2013 MT system development is still an evolutionary process and a skill based technology, not the instant iPhone-like gadget that some want it to be. There is a difference between using MT well and just blindly using MT because it  is in vogue. If you don’t know what you are doing and what you will do after your initial system is in place, being able to do it quickly initially is not going to really add much to your business leverage. 
  • Better understanding of what MT can and cannot do, and more pro-active use of MT to build long-term competitive advantage rather than just be a means to react to cost pressure or client demands. This means that some LSPs will build MT systems BEFORE they actually have a customer to ensure that they have an advantage in particular domains that they feel have strategic promise and potential.

I have discussed the importance of automation (process integration which includes MT and much more than traditional project management) and collaboration (which also means that you respect your workers and customers) as important elements of new business models that can effectively respond to and take advantage of these trends. I would like to add agility as a critical third element. What is agility or agile? I think this is increasingly becoming more important as a critical element for success in the future. 
: Characterized by quickness, lightness, and ease of movement; nimble.
: Mentally quick or alert
: marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace
: having a quick resourceful and adaptable character
So are there any examples of where all these elements come together? Not really, and definitely not at large LSPs like Lionbridge, SDL et al.  Largeness (over $50M for the translation industry) generally tends to undermine agility and often collaboration (in the sense I use the word) too. I think there are smaller companies where all these elements are more visible and look like they have the potential and promise to bloom. A nice and succinct description of “agile” is presented by Jack Welde, CEO Smartling in the first 8 minutes of this video.
An 8 minute overview of Agile Business Translation
I suspect that many new business translation customers will opt for this type of lean, quick and more cost-effective approach over the traditional LSP sales and TEP process hype, where the customer is often treated like an idiot that needs to be slapped into shape. Lingotek is another company with an approach that has many key elements in place and I think is well positioned to challenge the old model. In both cases outsiders are creating tools to change a cumbersome old business model and facilitate rapid collaborative production. DotSUB and Amara are two that are focusing on facilitating translation of the huge volumes of video content that are increasingly useful to help sell products and services, and are increasingly recognized as more important than a lot of traditional localization content. In all cases these new approaches can steer easily to professional, MT or community based production or any combination of the above at significantly lower prices with “quality” intact. Try and have this discussion about flexibility, speed and various production modes with a large traditional LSP and you will likely see that it may be possible at a significantly higher price, and I suspect the conversation will also be labored and difficult.

All of this for points to examination of changing business models and innovation and the most interesting discussions I have seen on this subject for this industry are at the The Big Wave. Listing all these trends has some value but it is useful also to understand how all these trends mix together and what implications it might have. I can’t say I have the answers but I think these are good things to ponder.  I have seen several interesting posts about this at the Big Wave site. For example here are some selections from this post:
TEP is the unique answer of most translation vendors, an old-fashioned and somewhat obsolete answer too, but it is the only model they know.
At a closer look, none of the big players in the industry, however, has produced substantial product, technological, or process innovations.
When customers don’t get any new value from traditional vendors to meet new or implicit needs, they abandon these vendors and do something different themselves to better accomplish their goals.
This is why innovation in translation has always come from outsiders.
There are also interesting posts On Information Asymmetry and The Disintermediation Myth: Bogy or Opportunity? which are provocative and worth reading even though some might feel they are slightly opaque.

The future is likely to see multiple production models co-exist e.g. TEP, PEMT, Customized MT, Free MT, Crowdsourcing or Community Collaboration as well increasing examples of social translation, as these will all be necessary to solve different types of translation challenges we face. I have often thought that it is too complicated to buy translation from traditional LSPs and I hope that we as an industry make this much more clear and simple for the customer who has never heard the word localization used in relation to translation. There are a lot more of these customers out there than there are customers in localization departments. People usually find it easier to buy, when they know exactly what they will get for a given price. People like predictable outcomes (really hard to do with MT) and would like to be able to easily compare alternatives.

I would welcome any readers who would be interested to share their own perceptions and views on these trends as a guest post. I assure you that I will print it without modification (hopefully no personal attacks or rants).