IBM, Lionbridge to Offer Real-time Translation for Business

IBM and partner Lionbridge plan to offer real-time translation of most written enterprise content via a cloud-based service by the end of this year.

The service will use statistical algorithms to instantly translate content including Web pages, documents, e-mail, instant messages, blogs and customer support information, the companies were to announce Thursday. Lionbridge gained exclusive commercial rights to IBM's RTTS (Real Time Translation Service) technology under a multiyear technology license agreement, and the two companies said they have signed a patent cross-licensing deal.

Together, the companies say they can reduce the cost of text-to-text machine translation while solving quality challenges. Unlike the freeware offered today for online translation, such as Google Translate, the IBM-Lionbridge offering will be customizable for specific organizations' content and business processes, the companies said. It can speed up and improve communication with consumers and among employees and partners worldwide, expanding opportunities for collaboration, they said. IBM and Lionbridge are positioning the offering as enterprise-focused rather than aimed at consumers.

The SaaS (software as a service) offering will combine RTTS with Translation Workspace, a cloud-based translation system from Lionbridge. It will be sold through Lionbridge's Geoworkz.com platform, which is based on Translation Workspace. IBM will also be able to sell the technology as part of its own service offerings.

The system is designed for content that can't be translated profitably or efficiently using human translators, Lionbridge said. The company will establish an offshore development practice that will customize applications for each customer's languages and business needs.

IBM said it is already using RTTS internally, making it available to about 400,000 employees for translating chat, e-mail, documents, knowledge portals, Web sites, blogs and other content. Altogether it has translated more than 100 million words, the companies claimed.

The SaaS offering will be available in a beta test starting in the next few months and become a commercial product by the end of this year, Lionbridge said. Pricing has not yet been determined.

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