The Machine Translation Maturity Model (MTMM)


Editor’s note: this blog references and draws inspiration from The Machine Translation Maturity Model, first described in a white paper published by Donnelley Language Solutions (now SDL). As a research company, Nimdzi does not officially endorse specific companies or associations, but we strive to share innovative ideas with our audience regardless of the source, including content developed by other sources. 
Now that that’s over with… let’s jump right in!


We all know that old saying, “Predicting the future is easy… getting it right is the hard part.”

For centuries, predictions have been made regarding the state of the environment, breakthroughs in health science, and advances in technology. Some predictions have turned out to be right on the mark – while others missed the mark entirely. Perhaps one of the best examples of missing the mark, was the following 1966 statement made by the Automatic Language Processing Advisory Committee (APAC):

“There is no immediate or predictable prospect of useful machine translation.”

In 1964, APAC was commissioned by the US government to look into the progress of machine translation (MT), assess the barriers that scientists were experiencing, and weigh these barriers against the translation quality. Following its investigation, APAC believed that the MT translation quality was slower, exceedingly more expensive, and significantly less accurate than human translation. And although many felt that APAC’s findings were incredibly shortsighted, the report essentially ended MT research in the United States for more than a decade.

MT has come a long way since the electronic calculators of the 1950s and the antiquated operational systems of the 1960s and 70s. What once was used primarily to keep tabs on the Russians and translate complicated technical documents is now used in the software localization industry, online networking services, desktop publishing, and international commerce. For organizations wishing to expand their business and connect with the international market, MT might just be the single-most important investment.

Shoppers reliant on translation services

 But as Valeria Cannavina, Senior Project Manager at Donnelley Language Solutions points out…

"Simply put, MT translation is currently far from being just a plug-and-play technology." - Valeria Cannavina

And this is where Donnelley Language Solutions comes in. With years of specialized experience as a language technology and service provider, Donnelley Language Solutions will partner with your organization to give you the upper hand. As a professional language services provider (LSP), Donnelley Language Solutions will help you understand the MT landscape, bring you up to speed with the latest developments, and advise you on how MT translation can best be used by your organization in order to optimize your processes, your productivity, and your profits. With its extensive background in multilingual communications, transcreation, and translation, Donnelley Language Solutions excels at helping clients build their brand and voice, grow their business, and strengthen their reputation.

With Neural MT (NMT) still regarded as relatively new, many organizations overlook the importance of aligned procedures to guide their use of MT. In order to help their clients develop a greater understanding of this technology and ensure they are using it as efficiently and as effectively as possible, Donnelley Language Solutions has recently unleashed a framework that will work to improve their clients’ existing production model and maximize their MT investment. With the adoption of the Common Sense Advisory’s Localization Maturity Model (LMM), an adaptation of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), Donnelley Language Solutions has recently unfolded the Machine Translation Maturity Model (MTMM) which consists of five maturity levels, each divided into different action items. Have a look at the various levels, decide for yourself what level your organization is currently at, and reach out to Donnelley Language Solutions to help advance your current level and increase your return on investment (ROI):


It’s important to set fair and realistic timelines for your RFP, taking into account your internal constraints while ensuring that vendors have enough time to deliver meaningful responses. That said, simulating time-sensitive project delivery circumstances can be a powerful way to evaluate vendor performance in real time.


Level one

If you find yourself at this first level, it may be because you are just starting off and most of your communication is currently internal. Perhaps you do not have the time nor the budget to fully invest in MT translation which also involves developing best practices, gathering essential resources, and establishing a localization department. By following the steps outlined in this level, you may just be able to increase the value of MT within your organization.


Level two

You have a firm grasp on what it is you do and effectively convey this message to your customers. If you have started to document some of the procedural tasks that are repeatable (for instance, your criteria for identifying texts that can be sent out to MT or how to store the text by category), you are likely at the repeatable level. However, if you are of the belief that terminology management is a relatively low priority, you may wish to reconsider. Donnelley believes that investing in terminology management has the potential to pay dividends by ensuring consistency, and outlines specific steps that can help to evolve your existing processes.


Level 3

Businesses at the Defined level have a clear understanding of the importance in partnering with an LSP. Goals have been well defined regarding the integration of MT into your business operations, and a roadmap for continuous improvement has been laid out. You are starting to see the ROI benefits for your investment. At this level, Donnelley Language Solutions will work with you to further mature your MT procurement strategy.


Level 4

At the Managed level, a company’s MT is intimately connected to its corporate goals and part of the overall production process. If you require assistance in managing your MT department, Donnelly Language Solutions has the experience and expertise you can trust. The focus at this level is on automation – Donnelley Language Solutions outlines the various steps to take in order to improve the maturity of your sourcing model.


Level 5

Just as the title suggests, organizations at this level now have a company running like a well-oiled machine. With a team of engineers, terminologists, reviewers, and project managers, the content creation process for MT is running smoothly on a daily basis. However, you may now wish to find innovative ways to continue to receive the same high-quality output while minimizing the associated time and cost. Luckily for you, Donnelley Language Solutions has the steps to take that will allow you to continue to improve beyond Level 5.

Connecting to the global market isn’t just about communicating to multiple markets – the communication has to be simultaneous and of the highest quality

Customers expect relevant information at their fingertips. Since MT facilitates fast-flowing content, global customers have access to the most current information in digital format. If your business has its eyes on the global market, understanding just how powerful a tool MT can be, and following the steps outlined in Donnelley Language Solution’s MTMM, is a step in the right direction. Connecting to the global market isn’t just about communicating to multiple markets – the communication has to be simultaneous and of the highest quality. MT has emerged as a translation tool of choice for high-volume, high-speed translations.

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