Machine Translation Technologies for Global Brands

Posted on by Keith Laska

As the amount of content generated by marketers continues to grow, so do the challenges faced by global organizations to effectively translate that content into native languages its customers understand around the world, inside and outside the enterprise.

Consumers are hungry for relevant content and a deeper experience with their favorite brands, and according to a 2012 survey by Content Wise, marketers have increased their total spending on content development by 45% between 2005 and 2012. Google’s statistics show that its total number of indexed pages grew from one trillion in 2008 to 30 trillion in 2013.

Add in the influx of user generated content from social media channels, and that’s quite a translation dilemma you’ve got on your hands. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit 64% of executives say language barriers make it difficult to gain a competitive foothold in international markets and 49% say that a language barrier has stood in the way of a major international business deal.

Today’s language translation solutions have to not only translate content, but also help deliver informative, relevant and consistent customer/partner experiences that help increase sales and drive brand loyalty – across multiple channels, cultures and devices.

What’s a fast-growing, multi-national corporation to do?

Solutions such as new machine translation technologies (MT) meet those needs, providing scalable and cost-effective ways to deliver high-quality translations and expand the types of content that can be translated, including chat, email and social media (a July 2012 IDC report stated that “it is vital to communicate across language boundaries. However, the volume of text is growing astronomically, and no human translator can keep up with this growth…Machine translation is ideal for gaining quick cross-language understanding”).

Machine translation solutions allow organizations to communicate and support customers across languages and channels like chat and email, but in a cost effective manner that enables worldwide self-service by making all communication channels multilingual.

Machine translation technologies impact across five key areas:

1. Self-service translation for anyone, anywhere, anytime publishing: One of the critical requirements for simplifying translation is to enable anyone and everyone to self-serve so they can submit content for translation without going through dozens of steps or evaluating individual translators or vendors. Marketers, analysts, execs should all be able to quickly select the language, the quality they need and the deadline, upload the content and supporting information and receive the results – on time and on budget.

Additionally, by providing multilingual content via the corporate site through a knowledge base, FAQs, chat or other channels, companies can significantly reduce their overhead costs and put the power in the user’s hands. For example, while the average inquiry to a call center costs $33, self-service is typically only one or two dollars.

2. Sentiment analysis/predictive analytics: Brand makers need to know what customers are saying about products by region and language, and use that data when designing new product rollouts, adding value to existing products and solutions, or improving the customer experience.

MT enables one to predict the customer journey based on localized, hard facts about behaviors and buying patterns. Automatic translation is the ideal technology to translate user-generated data from multiple languages into a single language for more efficient and accurate analysis of global customer sentiment, improve the customer experience, help build loyal customers and brand advocates, or better plan and execute brand strategies.

3. Enterprise Search: Adding machine translation to the enterprise search process can deliver more relevant results because when keywords are translated, documents can be searched in their native language and more accurate results are returned.

4. Invaluable Collaboration: With a machine translation technology, all employees can communicate immediately, inexpensively and globally even via email and chat in other languages – previously difficult to implement due to the real-time nature of collaboration.

5. Address a Myriad of Translation Needs: Machine translation allows you to address and fill every translation need – from translations of real-time content like chat and email, to dynamic content like user reviews, knowledge-based articles – to more static documents like legal agreements and product manuals (as part of a human translation process). When translation is easily accessible for all ad hoc needs, customers and employees to have better access to information they need, when they need it, regardless of the language of origin.

Keith Laska is CEO of SDL Language Technologies Division.

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