Attitudes of translation agencies and professional translators in Saudi Arabia towards translation management systems

Waleed Obaidallah Alsubhi (Department of English and Translation, College of Science and Arts, Jeddah University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

Saudi Journal of Language Studies

ISSN: 2634-243X

Article publication date: 9 January 2024

Issue publication date: 15 March 2024




Effective translation has become essential for seamless cross-cultural communication in an era of global interconnectedness. Translation management systems (TMS) have redefined the translation landscape, revolutionizing project management and execution. This study examines the attitudes of translation agencies and professional translators towards integrating and utilizing TMS, with a specific focus on Saudi Arabia.


The study's design was based on a thorough mixed-methods strategy that purposefully combined quantitative and qualitative procedures to create an array of findings. Through a survey involving 35 participants (both project managers and professional translators) and a series of interviews, this research explores the adoption of TMS, perceived benefits, influencing factors and future considerations. This integrated approach sought to investigate the nuanced perceptions of Saudi translation companies and expert translators about TMS. By combining the strengths of quantitative data's broad scopes and qualitative insights' depth, this mixed-methods approach sought to overcome the limitations of each method, ultimately resulting in a holistic understanding of the multifaceted factors shaping attitudes within Saudi Arabia's unique translation landscape.


Based on questionnaires and interviews, the study shows that 80% of participants were familiar with TMS, and 57% had adopted it in their work. Benefits included enhanced project efficiency, collaboration and quality assurance. Factors influencing adoption encompassed cost, compatibility and resistance to change. The study further delved into participants' demographic profiles and years of experience, with a notable concentration in the 6–10 years range. TMS adoption was linked to improved translation processes, and participants expressed interest in AI integration and mobile compatibility. Deployment models favored cloud-based solutions, and compliance with industry standards was deemed vital. The findings underscore the evolving nature of TMS adoption in Saudi Arabia, with diverse attitudes shaped by cultural influences, technological compatibility and awareness.


This research provides a holistic and profound perspective on the integration of TMS, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the opportunities, obstacles and potential pathways to success. As the translation landscape continues to evolve, the findings from this study will serve as a valuable compass guiding practitioners and researchers towards effectively harnessing the power of technology for enhanced translation outcomes.



Alsubhi, W.O. (2024), "Attitudes of translation agencies and professional translators in Saudi Arabia towards translation management systems", Saudi Journal of Language Studies, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 11-27.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Waleed Obaidallah Alsubhi


Published in Saudi Journal of Language Studies. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at

1. Introduction

The translation landscape is deeply intertwined with translation technology, prompting researchers (Man et al., 2019; Cronin, 2003; Millán and Bartrina, 2013) to underscore the intricate association between translators and technological tools. Significantly, Gough (2017) posits that the translation process cannot be studied in isolation from the translation technology ecosystem. This perspective underscores the imperative of understanding the interplay between translators and technology. A series of prior studies have emphasized translators' active engagement with various translation technologies, prompting a crucial inquiry into the translators' level of awareness concerning these tools. Gough (2017) emphasizes that translators should possess a foundational grasp of the fundamental concepts underpinning translation technologies to effectively leverage them. Furthermore, Mahdy et al. (2020) noted that the reluctance to adopt Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools often stems from a lack of understanding and familiarity among translators, rather than intrinsic limitations of these tools. Thus, the possession of a sound comprehension of the conceptual framework of translation technologies is pivotal not only for their successful adoption but also for enhancing the efficiency of the translation process itself.

Effective translation is a fundamental pillar of seamless communication in today's era of rapid globalization and cross-cultural interaction. Within this context, the emergence of translation management systems (TMS) has significantly transformed the translation landscape, revolutionizing project management and execution. TMS, which amalgamates innovative software tools and methodologies, has introduced efficiency, enhanced collaboration, and improved quality control (Katan, 2009; Gambier and van Doorslaer, 2010). Amidst this transformative wave, it becomes crucial to comprehend the perspectives of translation agencies and professional translators regarding the integration and use of TMS. This study delves into an exploration of these perspectives, focusing specifically on the unique context of Saudi Arabia.

The trajectory of TMS adoption mirrors the swift evolution of translation technology. Often coupled with CAT tools, TMS plays a pivotal role in project management, effectively coordinating tasks such as file handling and optimizing translation memory (Federico et al., 2012). These systems address conventional workflow limitations and offer practical solutions for managing multilingual content (Al-Rumaih, 2021). Furthermore, within the intricate realm of translation, TMS has emerged as a catalyst for fostering team synergy across geographical boundaries. It ensures consistency in terminology, facilitating seamless communication within linguistically diverse environments (Verplaetse and Lambrechts, 2019; Tennent, 2005).

A comprehensive review of the existing literature concerning TMS reveals a diverse landscape of advantages, limitations, and implementation challenges. These systems hold the potential to significantly enhance translation efficiency, streamline project coordination, and strengthen quality assurance (Mahdy et al., 2020). However, reaping these benefits comes with its share of challenges. Compatibility issues, resistance to change, and linguistic and cultural adaptation concerns have emerged as prominent obstacles (Esselink, 2000).

Despite the ongoing discussions, a significant research gap exists in exploring attitudes and perceptions toward TMS among translation agencies and professional translators, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Comparable studies across various contexts highlight that cultural influences are vital in shaping technology adoption (Al-Gahtani, 2004). This underscores the need for a closer examination of these factors within the unique Saudi Arabian landscape. The multifaceted nature of Saudi Arabia's linguistic diversity and cultural intricacies raises pertinent questions about integrating TMS into translation practices. Additionally, theoretical frameworks that elucidate technology adoption patterns within the translation domain offer a promising avenue for understanding the dynamics behind the acceptance or resistance to TMS (Rogers, 2010).

The significance of investigating these attitudes extends beyond mere technology adoption; it delves into the broader discourse on the role of technology in a field characterized by linguistic finesse and cultural awareness. The Saudi Arabian context adds complexity to these perspectives, shedding light on the translation's interplay between tradition, modernity, and cultural consciousness.

Machine Translation (MT) is a dynamic field with a rich history and evolving methods. It has significant implications for the translation industry, including translation management systems (TMS), and is relevant to the study of the attitudes of translation agencies and professional translators in Saudi Arabia towards TMS. The history of MT provides context for understanding the advancements in translation technology. Early rule-based MT systems struggled with linguistic complexity, leading to critical evaluations, as seen in the ALPAC report (Aziz Berkan Karadeli, 2023). The challenges within MT, such as handling low-resource languages, idiomatic expressions, and cultural context, are pertinent to the study of attitudes toward TMS. Understanding these challenges informs the contextual landscape of translation technology (Kumar et al., 2023). Evaluation metrics in MT, including BLEU and METEOR, are essential for assessing translation quality. Recognizing the importance of evaluation methods is relevant to the study's assessment of attitudes toward TMS quality and performance. MT systems have applications in various domains, including the business and professional translation sectors (Lee et al., 2023). Understanding these applications is fundamental to comprehending the role of TMS in the translation industry. The future of MT is relevant to the study as it shapes expectations and attitudes toward TMS. Advances in AI and deep learning promise more accurate and context-aware translation solutions, which can influence the acceptance and integration of TMS in the translation landscape (Tasmedir et al., 2023).

Considering these aspects of MT in the literature review, the study on the attitudes of translation agencies and professional translators in Saudi Arabia towards TMS gains a broader context. It is evident that the evolution of MT, its challenges, and its applications are all intertwined with the adoption and perceptions of TMS, particularly in the unique cultural and linguistic landscape of Saudi Arabia. This study contributes to the broader understanding of technology in translation and the specific factors that shape its acceptance in Saudi Arabia.

A glimpse into the academic landscape reveals the work of Alotaibi (2014) in Saudi Arabia, Mahfouz (2018) in Egypt, Mahdy et al. (2020) in Yemen, and Abu Dayyeh (2020) in Palestine, who have contributed to our understanding of CAT tool dynamics. Yet, the comprehensive investigation of translation technology in its entirety and an assessment of awareness levels towards these technological tools are aspects that await deeper exploration within the existing research landscape.

Taking a closer look, the study by Abu Dayyeh (2020) meticulously evaluated the adoption of CAT tools within the context of Palestine. The study's outcomes unveiled a hierarchy of utilization, with online electronic dictionaries taking precedence, followed by online translation software and Internet search engines. In stark contrast, interviews conducted as part of the research uncovered a widespread lack of familiarity among Palestinians with translation memory systems, terminology management tools, and the array of available corpora resources.

A point of distinction to highlight is that the research conducted by Almutawa and Izwaini (2015) primarily concentrated on in-house translators situated within organizations and agencies. This specific focus potentially introduces a set of organizational barriers that might have influenced the perceptions and attitudes towards TMS adoption at the time. As this study endeavors to bridge this gap by encompassing a wider spectrum of Saudi translators, it aims to offer a comprehensive perspective on the evolving landscape of translation technology awareness.

The study aims to address the following research questions:


What are the attitudes and perspectives of translation agencies and professional translators in Saudi Arabia regarding the adoption of TMS?


What are the levels of awareness and familiarity with TMS among the participants in this study?


What are the perceived benefits and satisfaction levels associated with TMS integration among the participants?


What implementation challenges and training needs are identified in the context of TMS adoption in Saudi Arabia?


What are the participants' perspectives on the future trajectory of TMS in Saudi Arabia, including preferences for deployment models, compliance with industry standards, and recommendations for advancements in the TMS industry?

In light of this, the study's significance lies in its contribution to the understanding of the interplay between translation technology and translators, emphasizing the importance of a solid grasp of technology for successful adoption. It also highlights the transformative potential of TMS in improving translation processes. The unique cultural and linguistic context of Saudi Arabia is recognized as a crucial factor influencing technology adoption. Moreover, this research offers insights that are valuable not only for TMS adoption but also for the broader discussion on technology in the translation field, aiding practitioners and researchers in navigating this evolving landscape.

2. Methodology

2.1 Study design

The study's design was based on a thorough mixed-methods strategy that purposefully combined quantitative and qualitative procedures to create an array of findings. This integrated approach sought to investigate the nuanced perceptions of Saudi translation companies and expert translators about TMS. By combining the strengths of quantitative data's broad scopes and qualitative insights' depth, this mixed-methods approach sought to overcome the limitations of each method, ultimately resulting in a holistic understanding of the multifaceted factors shaping attitudes within Saudi Arabia's unique translation landscape.

Quantitative methods contributed to the ability to quantify trends and derive statistically significant patterns from collected data. Through structured surveys and well-designed questions, the quantitative aspect of the study provided a numerical perspective to participants' viewpoints. Qualitative approaches added an element that probed into the complexities of participants' experiences, complementing this quantitative base. This aspect illuminated underlying motives, personal anecdotes, and contextual intricacies that quantitative data frequently misses through open-ended inquiries and narrative responses.

2.2 Study participants

The sample participants were meticulously selected to ensure a comprehensive representation of the Saudi Arabian translation landscape. A purposive sampling technique was used to handpick 35 participants, each embodying a distinct perspective within the translation community. This approach aimed to capture a spectrum of viewpoints, ensuring that attitudes towards TMS adoption were not homogenized.

The selection process involved calibrating experience, linguistic pairs, and organizational affiliations. Participants with varying experience levels, from novices to seasoned professionals, were included to account for the potential impact of familiarity on attitudes. Diverse linguistic pairs enriched the sample, recognizing the role language dynamics might play in shaping TMS attitudes. Both translation agencies and independent practitioners acknowledged the varying organizational contexts shaping TMS attitudes.

2.3 Interviews

A series of interviews were conducted to enhance the comprehensiveness of our insights. These interviews adopted an informal conversational tone rather than a conventional formal structure. Participants were engaged in dialogues centered around their experiences with TMS. These conversations explored participants' preferences, reservations, and observations concerning TMS. Furthermore, participants were encouraged to share the transformative impact of TMS on their work routines and workflows while delving into any encountered challenges.

These interviews were conducted in person, providing a conducive environment for open and candid discussions. The interactive nature of the in-person setting facilitated participants' willingness to express their opinions freely. Each interview session lasted approximately 30 min, ensuring a balanced exploration of the topics without overwhelming participants.

Participants' privacy and confidentiality were paramount throughout this process. Personal identities and private information were meticulously safeguarded, ensuring anonymity and compliance with ethical research standards. These interviews aimed to extract profound insights from participants' experiences and opinions rather than intruding into their details.

Participants were also handed out the survey questionnaire for completion during the interviews. This allowed participants to express their thoughts verbally during the interview and in writing through the questionnaire. The survey questionnaires were collected after the interview, ensuring a smooth and coordinated data collection process encapsulating both spoken and written perspectives.

The following table shows interview questions that have been carefully crafted to elicit detailed responses, contributing to the depth and richness of the data collected through qualitative interviews (see Table 1).

2.4 The questionnaire

The survey questionnaire, meticulously crafted to align with the research's objectives, functioned as the principal instrument for data collection. Designed with a keen focus on established research standards, the questionnaire encompassed several sections, each thoughtfully tailored to elicit insights into distinct dimensions of attitudes, perceptions, and experiences associated with the integration of TMS:

  1. Introduction and consent: The questionnaire initiation included a comprehensive introduction that elucidated the study's objectives and underscored the voluntary nature of participation, confidentiality assurance, and ethical considerations. Participants were invited to express their consent to participate in the study by appending their signatures, ensuring a well-informed and consensual research engagement.

  2. Participant background: By delving into the participants' affiliations with translation agencies or independent practice, this section sought to grasp the diverse organizational contexts within which these attitudes towards TMS are formed. Furthermore, inquiries about years of experience within the translation domain provided valuable context for understanding the interplay between experience and attitudes.

  3. Awareness and familiarity with TMS: To establish a foundational understanding, participants were prompted to indicate their prior awareness of the TMS concept, gauging the extent to which this technology was known within their professional sphere. Additionally, respondents were asked to gauge their familiarity with TMS, offering insights into the existing knowledge landscape within the Saudi Arabian translation industry.

  4. Benefits and perceptions: This section unveiled participants' perceptions of TMS benefits in the translation workflow. Through multiple-choice queries, the questionnaire aimed to uncover the facets of TMS that resonated most with the participants: enhanced project efficiency, improved collaboration, elevated quality assurance, streamlined management, or other facets.

  5. Challenges and implementation factors: This section's exploration of barriers to TMS adoption was a central focus. By soliciting participants' insights into factors impeding TMS integration, such as cost considerations, compatibility concerns, and resistance to change, the questionnaire aimed to unravel the complexities involved in TMS implementation. Participants' perceptions of the financial implications of TMS deployment were probed, adding another layer to the exploration of challenges.

  6. Experience with TMS: For participants who had interacted with TMS, this segment delved into the nuances of their experiences. Ranging from their overall satisfaction levels to their perception of valuable TMS features, this section sought to provide a granular understanding of the tangible outcomes of TMS adoption. Furthermore, participants were invited to share challenges encountered during TMS implementation, affording insights into potential pain points and obstacles.

  7. Decision factors: This part of the questionnaire explored the decision-making dynamics regarding TMS adoption. This section provided a comprehensive vantage point into the intricate interplay of considerations in the TMS adoption journey by inquiring about essential TMS features, criteria for TMS selection, and influential factors in the decision-making process.

  8. Impact and training: An exploration into the broader ramifications of TMS adoption formed the crux of this segment. Through inquiries about the impact of TMS on the overall translation process, insights were gained into how this technology reshaped workflows, collaborations, and quality assurance mechanisms. Additionally, the training aspect was addressed, with participants sharing their experiences and levels of satisfaction with the training and support received.

  9. Future considerations: Participants' future perspectives and preferences were highlighted in this segment. By inquiring about intentions to explore other TMS options, envisioning improvements in the TMS landscape, and expressing deployment preferences, the questionnaire aimed to encapsulate forward-looking insights that could inform future developments in the TMS domain.

  10. Additional comments: A qualitative dimension was introduced in this section, providing participants the opportunity to share unstructured insights and comments on TMS or related themes. This open-ended space acknowledged the uniqueness of individual perspectives, allowing participants to voice nuanced opinions that predefined questions might not capture.

2.5 Data analysis

The quantitative data collected from the survey underwent a rigorous analytical process to derive meaningful insights. Descriptive statistical methods were employed to synthesize the responses into frequencies and percentages, offering a comprehensive overview of participants' perspectives and attitudes. This numerical representation provided a foundation for understanding prevailing trends and patterns within the dataset.

Furthermore, the qualitative responses from open-ended questions were subjected to thematic analysis, a methodological approach to uncover recurrent themes and patterns within the qualitative data. By coding and categorizing participants' narrative responses, this analysis sought to uncover nuanced insights, revealing more profound layers of attitudes, experiences, and perceptions.

3. Results and discussion

3.1 Perspectives on TMS adoption: a multifaceted analysis

The examination of attitudes regarding TMS adoption among translation agencies and professional translators reveals a multifaceted interplay of factors and perspectives. The insights highlight the complex interplay between cost, compatibility, awareness, and technical challenges that influence the decision to adopt TMS. The perceived benefits of TMS adoption, including streamlined project management, enhanced collaboration, and improved translation quality, underscore its potential to revolutionize the translation workflow. However, challenges related to change resistance, implementation complexities, and training requirements must be effectively addressed to harness TMS's benefits fully. The interviews also shed light on the evolving nature of TMS, with participants expressing interest in advanced features like AI integration and mobile compatibility, indicating a continuous quest for innovation within the translation industry.

3.1.1 Awareness and familiarity with TMS

The interviews revealed a spectrum of awareness levels and prior experiences with TMS. Most participants were well-versed in the concept of TMS and had firsthand experience with its implementation, while others exhibited limited or no familiarity. This variation aligns with the findings of previous studies (Carrillo, 2007; Shuttleworth and Cowie, 2014; Alkan, 2016), suggesting that adopting TMS is still in varying stages of maturity across different industry segments.

3.1.2 Perceived benefits and satisfaction

Participants with direct experience highlighted tangible benefits of TMS integration, including heightened project efficiency, improved collaboration among team members, and enhanced project management.

TMS streamlined project management, reducing manual tasks. It also improved collaboration, leading to higher translation quality, remarked one participant.

Another interviewee noted, “Centralizing translation assets ensured consistency and saved time. Real-time updates helped track project progress effectively.”

The utilization of TMS was particularly noted for its contribution to managing translation assets, leading to increased consistency in translated content and quality assurance.

3.1.3 Implementation challenges and training needs

Challenges encountered during TMS implementation were multifaceted, ranging from technical hurdles to the adaptation to new workflows.

Resistance to change was a barrier. Some team members were hesitant about using new technology, shared an interviewee.

Another participant added, “Setting up and customizing the TMS to fit our needs took time and effort. Technical issues also cropped up.”

The need for training was emphasized as well.

Training was necessary but time-consuming. We had to invest resources to familiarize everyone with the new system, another respondent explained.

These findings resonate with earlier studies that emphasized cost, compatibility, and change resistance as impediments to TMS adoption (Gambier et al., 2004; Folaron, 2012), underlining the importance of addressing user concerns to foster successful integration.

3.1.4 Future trajectory of TMS: evolving needs and aspirations

Participants offered insights into the future trajectory of TMS in the Saudi Arabian context. Preferences for deployment models, the importance of complying with industry standards, and recommendations for advancements in the TMS industry were discussed.

“We're looking for AI integration in TMS for advanced automation. This would revolutionize how translations are managed,” remarked one interviewee.

Another participant stated, “Mobile compatibility would be great. Translators on the go could benefit from managing tasks and tracking progress. Moreover, participants stressed the need for language-specific features and better data security to align TMS with industry standards.

These forward-looking perspectives emphasize the requirement for continuous research and development in TMS technologies to address the evolving needs and aspirations of translation agencies and professional translators in Saudi Arabia. The themes and excerpts from the interviews provide a rich understanding of attitudes, challenges, and opportunities related to adopting and utilizing TMS.

3.2 Quantitative insights

The survey participants comprised 35 individuals, including translation agency representatives and independent professional translators. Their years of experience in the translation industry varied, with 8 participants (23%) having 0–2 years of experience, 9 participants (26%) having 3–5 years, 8 participants (23%) having 6–10 years, and 7 participants (20%) having 11+ years of experience.

The survey unveiled a substantial awareness level within the participants' domain. An impressive 28 respondents (80%) demonstrated prior familiarity with TMS, signifying a commendable industry cognizance. Conversely, a minority of 7 participants (20%) indicated an absence of knowledge concerning TMS.

An intriguing observation emerged regarding TMS adoption rates (Figure 1). Among the surveyed individuals, 20 participants (57%) reported practical usage of TMS in their translation undertakings, emphasizing a noteworthy uptake of TMS within the community. Delving into the perceived advantages of TMS incorporation, 18 participants (90%) acknowledged TMS as a catalyst for augmenting project efficiency. Acknowledging the significance of collaborative synergy, 17 participants (85%) attributed improved collaboration among team members to integrating TMS. 14 participants (70%) underscored TMS's impact on enhancing quality assurance mechanisms, thereby fostering consistency across translations. In comparison, 16 participants (80%) highlighted TMS's role in streamlining project management and tracking, contributing to efficient resource allocation.

The survey delved into the nuanced factors influencing the adoption of TMS (Figure 2), shedding light on the decision-making dynamics among participants. A significant majority of 25 participants (71%) underscored the financial aspect, deeming the cost of implementation as a pivotal determinant of TMS adoption. 21 participants (60%) accentuated the importance of compatibility with existing tools and workflows in shaping their inclination towards TMS. The human element came into play, as 14 participants (40%) cited resistance from team members as a tangible challenge in adopting TMS. At the same time, 8 participants (23%) highlighted the role of awareness deficiency as a deterrent to TMS adoption.

Delving into participants' financial perceptions of TMS implementation, the survey identified distinct patterns in participants' outlooks. A discerning 10 participants (29%) considered TMS implementation moderately expensive. 15 participants (43%) perceived TMS implementation to fall within an affordable range, implying a balanced cost-benefit proposition. Notably, 7 participants (20%) indicated optimism in the long-term cost-effectiveness of TMS adoption.

Participants' future intentions regarding exploring other TMS options were diverse. While 17 participants (49%) expressed openness to considering alternative options, 18 (51%) indicated their intention to remain with their current TMS.

Participants' perspectives on the future of TMS indicate a forward-looking orientation:

  1. AI Integration: 16 participants (46%) expressed keenness for integrating artificial intelligence (AI) within TMS, recognizing its potential to drive advanced automation and revolutionize the translation landscape.

  2. Mobile Compatibility: An interest in enhanced mobile compatibility was voiced by 11 participants (31%), reflecting a growing need for flexibility and accessibility in translation management.

  3. Language-Specific Features: The significance of catering to linguistic nuances resonated with 7 participants (20%), suggesting that tailoring TMS features to language-specific requirements would enhance its utility.

In considering deployment models, the survey revealed a preference for cloud-based solutions (51%) over on-premises (31%) or hybrid (17%) alternatives. A noteworthy 21 participants (60%) underscored the imperative nature of complying with industry standards in developing and deploying TMS.

Turning to training and integration, 19 participants (54%) received formal training from TMS providers, with 9 participants (26%) benefiting from external training programs. Satisfaction levels with the training provided varied, with 7 participants (37%) being “very satisfied,” 10 participants (53%) “satisfied,” and 2 participants (10%) remaining “neutral.”

Regarding integration with Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, 23 participants (66%) experienced seamless integration, 10 participants (29%) encountered some compatibility issues, and 2 participants (5%) reported no integration capabilities.

When asked about any additional comments, participants shared their perspectives, offering valuable insights into various aspects related to TMS:

Participants emphasized the impact of TMS on improving translation efficiency and acknowledged opportunities for further enhancement. They emphasized customizable workflows, integration with machine translation, and real-time collaboration as areas with potential for enhancement. Participants believed that these features could substantially enhance overall productivity and streamline translation workflows. In addition, they emphasized the importance of robust data security measures, harnessing the potential of neural machine translation, and staying updated on evolving industry trends for the continued advancement of TMS technology.

Several participants emphasized the need to raise awareness about TMS software, particularly among certain sectors and managers. They pointed out that some managers lacked familiarity with TMS and sometimes confused it with basic machine translation tools like Google Translate. This lack of awareness was particularly notable among specific international companies operating in Saudi Arabia. Addressing this gap in understanding was deemed crucial to promoting wider adoption and effective utilization of TMS within these sectors.

Participants expressed a need for expanded educational initiatives, including workshops and lectures with a focus on TMS. Their request for more structured learning opportunities reflected their recognition of the importance of comprehensive understanding and effective use of TMS tools. The call for enhanced education underscores participants' enthusiasm to develop their skills and knowledge related to TMS technologies.

Another observation pertains to the readiness of the local translation market for TMS adoption. Participants noted that cost-related factors pose a significant challenge to the integration of TMS within the industry. Furthermore, the fragmented nature of the translation market was identified as another obstacle. This fragmentation appears to contribute to the absence of a unified approach toward TMS adoption, impacting its seamless implementation across various segments of the market.

These results offer a comprehensive insight into the diverse attitudes, considerations, and perceived benefits surrounding the adoption of TMS. This study contributes to the broader understanding of TMS integration within the Saudi Arabian translation landscape by delving into the nuanced factors and individual perceptions.

3.3 Interpretation and significance

The combined insights from the interviews and survey questionnaire have shed light on the complex landscape of TMS adoption and utilization in Saudi Arabia. These findings lay the groundwork for a comprehensive discussion of the key themes, implications, and potential avenues for future research. The implications of these findings extend to multiple dimensions within the translation ecosystem. Practitioners and agencies can benefit from the insights into the benefits and challenges associated with TMS integration. Decision-makers can consider the highlighted factors influencing adoption, such as cost and compatibility, while strategizing TMS implementation plans. Moreover, the identification of future considerations like AI integration and mobile compatibility provides a forward-looking lens, guiding potential enhancements in TMS technology.

In terms of scholarly contributions, this research bridges a gap in the existing literature by offering a focused exploration of TMS adoption within the Saudi Arabian context. Previous studies have explored technology adoption in translation in a general context (Gambier et al., 2004; Al-Gahtani, 2004). This study, however, focuses on the specific landscape of TMS adoption. By doing so, it enhances the body of knowledge around translation technology's practical realities within a distinct cultural and linguistic milieu.

3.3.1 Adoption and perceived benefits

The research findings indicate significant attention and adoption of TMS within the Saudi Arabian translation industry. The interviews and survey responses point to a prevalent awareness of TMS, with most participants demonstrating prior familiarity. This heightened awareness reflects the global trend of growing recognition of the potential benefits offered by TMS in enhancing translation workflows (Christensen and Schjoldager, 2017; Wallis, 2006).

Participants generally hold positive perceptions of TMS, which are substantiated by tangible benefits resulting from its integration. The reported benefits encompass enhanced project efficiency, improved collaboration, heightened quality assurance, and more efficient project management. The research has revealed that TMS have garnered substantial attention and adoption within the Saudi Arabian translation industry. These findings resonate with previous research highlighting TMS's potential to significantly improve translation processes (Bowker, 2002; Gough, 2021).

3.3.2 Factors influencing adoption

The research identifies several factors that impact the decision to adopt TMS. Cost emerged as a prominent concern, echoing earlier studies that underscore the significance of financial implications in adopting new technologies (Gambier et al., 2004; Folaron, 2012). Compatibility with existing tools and workflows was another key determinant, aligning with the broader technology adoption literature emphasizing seamless integration with established systems (Rogers, 2010).

Resistance to change and lack of awareness were challenges in TMS adoption. Resistance from team members points to the involvement of human factors in technology adoption, indicating the importance of effective change management strategies (Orlikowski, 2000). The need for increased awareness emphasizes the importance of educational and communication efforts to promote the benefits of TMS among potential users (Shuttleworth and Cowie, 2014).

3.3.3 Future considerations and innovation

Participants' forward-looking perspectives provide insights into the future trajectory of TMS within the Saudi Arabian translation landscape. The expressed interest in AI integration reflects the ongoing shift towards automation and the potential role of AI in revolutionizing translation processes (Jiang and Lu, 2020). The need for mobile compatibility aligns with the evolving work patterns, emphasizing the importance of flexibility and accessibility in managing translation tasks (Hampshire and Porta Salvia, 2010). Furthermore, the suggestion of language-specific features emphasizes the diversity of linguistic requirements in translation and localization processes (Esselink, 2000).

3.3.4 Deployment models and standards

The preference for cloud-based deployment models resonates with the broader trend of organizations adopting cloud technologies for enhanced scalability and accessibility (Armbrust et al., 2010). The importance placed on complying with industry standards underscores the role of standards in ensuring interoperability and quality within the translation domain (ISO17100, 2015).

3.3.5 Training and integration

The findings suggest that formal training plays a significant role in ensuring effective TMS implementation. The varying levels of satisfaction with training underline the need for tailored and comprehensive training programs to address diverse user needs (O’Brien, 2011). The smooth integration of TMS with CAT tools highlights the technical compatibility required for seamless workflows and enhanced productivity (Somers, 2003).

3.3.6 Understanding awareness and usage patterns of TMS

In relation to TMS, one plausible rationale for the observed limited awareness of CAT tools could stem from their relatively recent introduction to the Arab context. Al-Ajmi (2011) highlighted that the dearth of such corpora in the Arabic domain might be attributed to the absence of requisite programs to compile such resources. Although Al-Ajmi's (2011) study was conducted some years ago, a recent investigation by Man et al. (2019) aligns with this notion, suggesting that translators are inclined to favor technologies that offer swift solutions. The intricate functionalities of certain translation technologies might pose a hurdle to their acquisition, as they frequently necessitate time and customization to fully comprehend and utilize.

The outcomes of the study demonstrate a prevailing recognition among the respondents regarding the necessity of acquiring proficiency in translation technologies. Their consensus revolves around the advantages of having a practical guide that elucidates the array of translation technologies available. Furthermore, there is a consensus on the indispensability of incorporating instruction on translation technologies within undergraduate degree programs. Notably, close to half of the participants admit to never having participated in a dedicated course on utilizing translation technology. Despite this, their expressed intent to leverage technology underscores a noticeable knowledge gap in this domain. These findings resonate with Han's (2020) study that the conventional teaching approach is becoming obsolete. This alignment is further underscored by Man et al.'s (2019) conclusion, emphasizing the fundamental role of systematic training in nurturing technological competence. In light of these insights, this study underscores the urgency for more robust training initiatives to effectively heighten awareness and proficiency in translation management systems.

3.4 Limitations

While this research strives to provide valuable insights into the attitudes and perspectives of translation agencies and professional translators towards the integration and utilization of TMS in the Saudi Arabian context, several limitations warrant acknowledgment. Firstly, the study's scope is confined to a specific geographic area, namely Saudi Arabia. This limitation potentially restricts the generalizability of findings to other cultural and linguistic contexts, necessitating caution when extrapolating the results to different regions.

Secondly, the research's reliance on a mixed-methods approach, combining survey questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, might inadvertently introduce biases or discrepancies. Participants' self-reporting of their attitudes and practices, while valuable, could be influenced by social desirability bias or the tendency to present oneself in a favorable light. Thirdly, due to time and resource constraints, the sample size of the study might not fully encompass the diversity and nuances within the entire population of translation agencies and professional translators in Saudi Arabia. This could potentially affect the representation of minority perspectives or underrepresented groups.

3.5 Recommendations

Moving forward, this study lays the groundwork for future research endeavors to explore the intricate landscape of TMS adoption and utilization. In light of the insights gleaned, several valuable avenues for further investigation emerge. Firstly, there is significant potential in conducting cross-cultural comparative studies that transcend geographical boundaries. These studies could encompass diverse countries and regions, unraveling variations in attitudes, practices, and challenges related to TMS adoption. Such a global perspective could enrich the understanding of the universal and context-specific factors influencing the integration of TMS.

Secondly, the implementation of longitudinal studies, carried out over an extended period, holds promise in tracking the evolution of attitudes and practices towards TMS. These longitudinal observations could unveil dynamic trends and shifts in adoption patterns as translation technology continues to evolve. This longitudinal lens could also shed light on emerging challenges and adaptations over time. Delving deeper into the factors that contribute to resistance against TMS adoption stands as another avenue for future research. By conducting in-depth analyses of the specific barriers faced by translation agencies and professional translators, researchers can pinpoint the precise challenges that need to be addressed. This knowledge could pave the way for more tailored interventions and strategies to overcome reluctance towards TMS integration.

A promising research focus lies in investigating the efficacy of various training and educational initiatives geared towards TMS adoption. Understanding which training methods are most effective in equipping translation professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge can facilitate smoother integration and maximize the benefits of TMS technology. Furthermore, the exploration of hybrid models, which seamlessly combine human expertise with TMS capabilities, presents an innovative direction for future investigation. The potential of striking a balance between automation and human creativity could revolutionize translation practices and enhance the efficiency of workflows.

Considering the ethical dimensions of TMS integration is essential in this digital age. Future research could delve into the realms of data privacy, security, and potential biases introduced by TMS. This exploration ensures that the integration of TMS remains aligned with ethical standards and societal considerations. Lastly, as emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and natural language processing gain traction, probing their intersections with TMS could be a productive avenue. Investigating how these technologies can synergize with TMS to create more advanced and efficient translation workflows could shape the future of the translation industry.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, this comprehensive research endeavors to provide a substantial understanding of the attitudes, challenges, and prospects encompassing the adoption and utilization of TMS within the intricate Saudi Arabian translation realm. Through meticulous exploration, this study has unveiled the intricate web of factors influencing TMS adoption, encompassing financial considerations, technical intricacies, human dynamics, and the imperative of heightened awareness. The elucidation of these dimensions enriches our comprehension of the multifaceted nature of TMS integration.

The significance of TMS's integration lies not only in its immediate benefits but also in its potential to revolutionize and elevate translation workflows in the long run. The recognition of its potential advantages and the participants' contemplation of future possibilities underscores the transformative role that TMS can play within the translation landscape. However, these aspirations cannot be realized without acknowledging and overcoming the prevailing challenges. Notably, the cost implications, the intricate web of compatibility requirements, the resistance posed by entrenched practices, and the essential need for comprehensive training stand out as formidable challenges that must be addressed with strategic measures.

In a broader sense, the insights garnered from this research extend beyond the immediate scope of TMS integration. They contribute to the ongoing discourse surrounding the broader domain of translation technology adoption and adaptation. By shedding light on the nuances, intricacies, and considerations surrounding TMS, this study offers a roadmap for translation agencies, professionals, and researchers who strive to navigate the swiftly evolving technological landscape within the translation domain.

In essence, this research provides a holistic and profound perspective on the integration of TMS, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the opportunities, obstacles, and potential pathways to success. As the translation landscape continues to evolve, the findings from this study will serve as a valuable compass guiding practitioners and researchers towards effectively harnessing the power of technology for enhanced translation outcomes.


Perceived benefits of TMS

Figure 1

Perceived benefits of TMS

Factors influencing TMS adoption

Figure 2

Factors influencing TMS adoption

Interview questions for exploring perspectives on TMS adoption

ThemeInterview questions
(1) Awareness and familiarity with TMS
  • a.

    Could you elucidate your level of awareness and familiarity with translation management systems (TMS)?

  • b.

    Have you gained practical experience with TMS implementation, and if so, could you provide a detailed account of your experiences?

(2) Perceived benefits and satisfaction
  • a.

    From your vantage point, what discernible benefits result from the integration of TMS into the translation workflow?

  • b.

    Can you share specific instances where TMS has positively influenced project efficiency, collaboration, or overall project management?

(3) Implementation challenges and training needs
  • a.

    What multifaceted challenges did you encounter during the implementation of TMS, encompassing both technical intricacies and adaptation to new workflows?

  • b.

    How did your team respond to the introduction of TMS, and were there instances of resistance to change?

  • c.

    Could you expound on the training process for TMS within your organization, detailing the invested resources and methods employed to familiarize team members with the new system?

(4) Future trajectory of TMS: evolving needs and aspirations
  • a.

    Anticipating the future, what deployment models for TMS do you prefer in your specific context?

  • b.

    In what ways do you envision AI integration contributing to advanced automation in TMS, drawing on either your experience or aspirations?

  • c.

    How vital do you consider mobile compatibility in TMS, particularly for translators frequently on the move?

  • d.

    Are there language-specific features or data security measures that you deem indispensable for TMS to align with industry standards?

Source(s): Table by the author

Funding: The researcher received funding from the Grant Program for Studies and Research in the Field of Translation of The Arabic Observatory of Translation to complete this research study in the field of translation for the year 2023.


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Corresponding author

Waleed Obaidallah Alsubhi can be contacted at:

About the author

Dr Waleed Obaidallah Alsubhi is Assistant Professor of Translation at the University of Jeddah. He received his Master’s Degree in Translation from Sheffield University, and his Ph.D. in Translation Studies from Birmingham University, UK. He worked as a translation project manager for several translation and localization projects. He also works as Consultant for several institutions. His research interests are translation and cognition, translation technology, audiovisual translation and localization.

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