One of the big guys

Post date: 25-Apr-2011 23:41:33

More than ten days have now elapsed since the 3rd memoQfest in Budapest, Hungary. I’ve waited until now to sit down and write something about the event as first impressions can often be misleading, and I believe it is now a good time for me to look back and rely on my memory to remember what really mattered about the conference—that is, the underlying meanings underneath the presentations—and reflect on what the event meant for me.

Among the dozens of attendees and speakers at memoQfest, there were very few freelance translators, perhaps less than 10 per cent. It’s not difficult to know why, as the programme was mostly geared at translation agencies and enterprises, and representatives of such companies made up the bulk of attendance.

However, even if few presentations were useful for true translation professionals (rather than business people who are in the game just to profit from translators' work by paying ever-decreasing rates), attending the event in Budapest was fun because of the social events and networking opportunities.

Ultimately, it was also good to see first-hand what the people who run translation agencies are up to. There are different types of translation companies, and I truly believe that it's possible and profitable to work with the good ones as long as there's an understanding of the needs on both sides.

Throughout the event, the Kilgray management made it clear that the company has now reached a new stage in which they aim to fight with the big guys for the number one position in their market. It sounds good at first, but what it really means is that new features will be increasingly aimed at large customers such as LSPs and corporations. Unfortunately, no tool will be a market leader if all their customers are freelancers. For instance, Wordfast used to be the best tool for translation professionals until a few years ago, but money talks, and now the makers of Wordfast have virtually become a Transperfect sister company.

Kevin Lossner, who made several relevant points from the audience, asked when and whether Kilgray would pay more attention to freelancers’ needs by making improvements not only to the expensive server edition, but also to the “Translator Pro” version. Regardless of what they said, my take is that the gap between the two tools will widen in the coming months and years and perhaps reach a point where freelance translators who need minimal management functionalities will need to buy memoQserver.

Several questions concerning memoQ feature requests were made during the "ask the geeks" session and also during the presentation about Kilgray support. I know those people exist, but I have yet to meet somebody who made a feature request which was accepted and implemented in a later build of memoQ (after 4.0). When I bought memoQ, I did it not only because I thought (and still think) it is the best CAT tool available. I did it also because I had seen at the first memoQfest in 2009 that they still believed in tailoring a tool for translators by listening to translators.

But truth is that they're now one of the big guys, and arguably receive tons of requests every week. Thus they need to prioritise, and obviously they're giving priority to requests made by those customers who are bigger and more lucrative to them—which, by the way, makes perfect business sense. But I think they should come public about it.

Everybody from Kilgray said during the event that all requests are reviewed quite often and that at least a response is given to each one. I have made one feature request more than two months ago and I haven't received any feedback. I spoke to some people in Budapest and said I'm okay with being told "no", but I think I deserve some kind of acknowledgement. I received evasive answers. I guess I should have seen that coming, but customer relationship at Kilgray is no longer better than customer relationship at other CAT tool vendors.