Translating an idea into Success

*MultiCorpora and CEO Pierre Blais featured in La Presse Affaires and Le Droit. This article has been translated into English, to view the original version, please click here. 

Translating an idea into Success

Assisting translators in simplifying and improving their work

May 19, 2011, Montreal, Quebec

Written by: Pierre Duhamel, collaboration spéciale, La Presse

MultiCorpora is the result of Gerald Gervais’ experiences years ago as he managed a translation service within the Federal Government.

He realized his employees often translated the same phrases, the same expressions and the same words. He also realized that on a regular basis, the same terms were translated differently. He vowed to find an IT solution to these problems upon retirement.

He therefore founded MultiCorpora in 1999. This Gatineau software company is now used by over 60% of the translators and linguistic revisers within the federal government, the government of Quebec and Switzerland, as well as some thirty international organizations like UNESCO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, OECD, FAO (UN Food and Agriculture) and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands, an organization that works with 55 languages.

When Gerald Gervais left his management position in 2005, the company had a good customer base and it had already penetrated the European market and had positive capital.

To succeed him and prepare his son Daniel, to eventually take on the leadership, the company hired Pierre Blais, a specialist at bringing software to market.

He himself was an entrepreneur and had led a company of 300 employees.

As for Daniel Gervais, who co-founded the company with his father, he serves as the Executive Vice President and assistant Director, in addition to leading the R&D and Professional Services and Customer Support teams.

MultiCorpora offers “language technology” – in short, this includes a series of ten modules that each meet specific needs to simplify the work of the translator. The first is a translation memory software that saves the translations done by an organization or a business so that the contents can be reused in a subsequent translation job.

“10 to 50% of the words used by an organization are repetitive. The software recognizes them and prompts the translator to insert them in the text,” explained Pierre Blais.

Unlike the most common machine translation software – such as Google – our software takes into account the context of each text, and will not confuse a computer’s “server” with a waiter (server) in a restaurant.

The software is so powerful it can even establish the link between a source word and the equivalent in a language that uses other types of characters such as Mandarin, Arabic, Russian or indigenous languages.

Another software manages the terminology specific to an organization. “The Department of Defense uses 250,000 different terms that should not be confused,” he said. The complexity is exponential when it comes to translating into multiple languages that do not have the same meaning in the various armies of the 28 country members of NATO, another MultiCorpora client.

Project Management

There is also a software component for project management in translation services. The software evaluates the volume of content of every new text that is already in the company’s “memory-bank”, which gives the manager a good idea on the cost for the new translation and the time it will require.

“We are the Microsoft of translation,” said Pierre Blais. A rather small Microsoft with 40 employees and revenues of about 5 million dollars, but the company records an annual growth in sales of 18% and did not suffer from the recession of recent years.

The translation industry is valued at $15 billion and growing at 7% per annum.

To further develop within the European market, where potential is huge, Pierre Blais’ first decision after his appointment was to open an office in Brussels. The company now wants to raise its profile in the corporate world where it already has clients like Kraft, Ford Canada, and Toys “R” Us.

MultiCorpora recently opened an office in Montreal to serve the corporate market and is targeting the US market more and more. “Our largest customer is the publisher RR Donnelley. American companies are much more sensitive than ever on the need to communicate with their foreign customers and with their strong Hispanic minorities. In the health and insurance field, the need is urgent,” he said.

“Canadian government organizations in the marketplace give us stability but our growth will be at the international level.”


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