White Paper

Seamless TranslationTM - delivering for the user

A WorldLingo White Paper

Table of Contents

1. The next two years will be electric

1.1 It will all be over in two years
1.2 How did we get here?
1.3 The users are in charge
1.4 Who are these users?
1.5 What users are demanding?

2. Exposing an organization's translation assets to users

3. The delivery of quality translations

3.1 What is the difference between Translation and Localization?
3.2 A picture tells a thousand words
3.3 Money talks
3.4 Leveraging the organization's translation assets
3.5 Speed is a quality issue as well

4. A different way of processing documents for translation

5. Translating economics into good business sense

5.1 One man's trash is another man's treasure
5.2 Use real data to drive your translation expenditure

6. Theory versus Practice

7. Seamless Translation

7.1 And the winners are
7.2 If they

8. Work with Us

1. The next two years will be electric

The Internet places resources at the fingertips of users, empowering them to access information when they like, where they like and in the manner they like. This phenomenon has unleashed a paradigm shift in translation services.

Enterprises that take advantage of this new paradigm will:

  • Generate increased revenues,
  • Cut translation costs,
  • Achieve broader and deeper market penetration,
  • Provide reliable, proven services to their customer base as they enter new markets, and
  • Be leaders in delivering a new business model of relationship services that most international customers only dream of today

The focus of this paradigm shift is not so much about the information we translate today, but the mass of information that is not translated for both economic and logistical reasons.

This paradigm shift will produce winners and losers.

It will change the competitive landscape forever. Winners will see an explosion in their current market share, unlock new markets, and seize opportunities. Their global competitors may never recover from the head start conceded.

Below is a clear, concise outline of the three developments key to achieving this paradigm shift. Included is also a profile of the best-suited organizations to implement, and subsequently benefit from this paradigm shift.

If your organization fits the profile, a roadmap follows explaining how to leverage your translation assets in the market place to ensure success. If your organization does not fit the profile, then you have a checklist to position your organization as a winner.

1.1 It will all be over in two years

This paradigm will not penetrate 100% of commercial enterprises and government organizations within two years.

However, the early adopters of this technology will have the opportunity to discover latent needs, develop strategies to ignite these untapped resources, then gain and hold a solid advantage.

Two years is all it will take to determine the winners and the losers.

1.2 How did we get here?

AltaVista's Babelfish exposed the enormous depth of demand from users for information in their own language.

It has been just as effective in exposing the shortfalls in machine translation technology. Just about everybody has their AltaVista story where they translated a document into a foreign language and translated the result back again to produce a hilarious outcome. Machine translation has hit a seemingly insurmountable wall. 65% to 70% accuracy seems to be the best that can be hoped for from machine translation as we know it today. It has remained at that level for the past 20 years.

Some Machine Translation vendors claim a 90% accuracy rate, but in the eyes of a user, 90% accurate should be almost right. Users do not consider one word in every ten wrong to be almost right.

Since the translation industry could not get computers to translate accurately, they focused on helping people perform translations faster and better. On building productivity tools for people who perform translations. Translation memory tools like Trados, Star, Déjà vu, and SDLX; terminology management tools; workflow technologies; quality control systems and more.

The lessons learnt using these productivity tools, the assets assembled through their use, and the newfound power of information users will drive this paradigm shift to Seamless Translation.

1.3 The users are in charge

The position of power possessed by users on the Internet and the competitive advantage gained by organizations, that meet the demands of users will drive this change.

The decision to translate no longer belongs to the organization - it is at the fingertips of users. More and more software is granting the user the power to request a translation, usually one translated by computer.

Microsoft, for example, has built WorldLingo's translation service into every copy of Office XP shipped and every copy of Word 2002. If a user wants a translation - it is just a click away. Every day thousands of users download and add the WorldLingo Browser Translator to their web browser, so the web translates on the fly as they surf.

This is just the beginning. Notice when you install a new product from vendors like Microsoft and Adobe, the language you speak is one of the first items you specify. Before long, the Internet will be serving the user in their native language without any interaction required from the user. The Internet will just "know" in what language to provide the information. It will be a seamless experience for the user.

Add to this the users of Babelfish type services and very soon, you will have tens of millions of users requesting translations and computers will perform those translations.

But here is the rub -


Computer translations today are just not accurate enough.

The accuracy of these translations can be improved dramatically, but generally the users do not have access to the "translation assets" (past translations, translation memory, terminology databases, etc.) essential to improve the accuracy.

Those assets are held by the organization that owns the information and are inaccessible. Those translation assets must be accessible to the user requesting a translation to improve the accuracy of computerized translations.

1.4 Who are these users?

They are almost 400 million in number. Less then 40% speak English. By 2007, Accenture predicts that the number one web language will be Chinese.

Research from IDC and Forrester shows users are three to four times more likely to buy when you communicate with them in their native language. In addition, they will spend twice as long on your website. The business imperative is there to get it right.

They are your clients, your prospects, your employees, your partners, your kids and communication with them does not just mean being spoken at - but real two-way communication that will incorporate email, chat, and real time communication systems.

The only cost effective way to provide these users with translations today is by computer. However, the translations performed by computer today are not accurate enough.

The number of worldwide e-mail mailboxes is expected to increase from 505 million in 2000 to 1.2 billion in 2005, according to International Data Corp. The volume of information on the Internet today and the amount of new information produced every day by organizations, means that there are not enough people qualified as translators on the planet to keep up with demand.

In addition, most users expect to gain access to everything on the Internet instantly and for it to be free. When you throw these time and cost variables into the equation, the economics and practicalities of translating such information do not stack up today.

1.5 What users are demanding?

Users want translation to be like electricity.

When you want light, you just flick a switch. Most people do not think if it was oil, coal, wind, water, or sunshine that fueled the power station to produce the electricity to switch their light on. Nor do they really ponder if it is AC, DC, or three-phase power or if a candescent or fluorescent bulb that produces the light. - They just want light.

Translation is the same; it should be seamless. A user just wants information they can comprehend. Most do not care if man or machine produces it, if translation memory and other tools are used, if the translators are in country or not. When they request information, they expect it in their language. Why would they want it in a language they do not speak?

In short, translation should be seamless.

The next two years will see the "winners" deliver translation like electricity. It shall be seamless to the user. Here are the three key areas yielding the advances to make this possible:

A. Exposing translation assets to users of the organization's information

B. The delivery of quality translations

C. Better processing of the documents for translation.

2. Exposing an organization's translation assets to users

Over the past decade as the use of productivity tools for human translators has grown, most organizations (or the translation houses they have hired) have had the opportunity to amass some very valuable translation assets like:

  • Existing Translations,
  • Translation memories,
  • Terminology databases,
  • Localized graphics, and
  • Style guidelines.

These translation assets are very specific to their company, division, or product line.

Many organizations now realize the value of these translation assets and ensure translators assign ownership of these assets as part of their service agreement. However, what is the use of owning these assets if they are never used or only used for very limited purposes.

So today an organization may have legal ownership, but many could not actually lay their hands on their translation assets quickly or easily. A user would have no chance of leveraging these assets to obtain a more accurate translation. The translation assets could be stored on individual PCs in the organization, in a bunch of different departments, many are probably still in the hands of the translators.

The management of these and other translation assets will become the translation issue of the decade for global organizations.

Management does not mean ownership. It certainly does not mean locking them up in a secure vault where they can never be used, or only used with extreme difficulty. The key goal of managing these translation assets is to ensure they can be used cost effectively and seamlessly by users of the organization's information to obtain the best translation available.

These translation assets are a key foundation to the provision of a seamless translation system and a high priority should be placed on their management. The development of open interfaces like TMX and TBX have made it possible to gather these disparate assets into an appropriate management system.

WorldLingo's TAMSTM (Translation Asset Management SystemTM) is nearing release and is currently undergoing beta testing. It has the following objectives:

  • To ensure ownership of the translation asset,
  • To ensure possession of the translation asset,
  • To provide high availability of the translation asset to users,
  • To handle very large volume translation assets,
  • To be able to drill down to serve specialist subsets of the translation asset, and
  • To allow users access to the translation asset for the purpose of having the document translated as requested, but not allowing a valuable corporate asset to be pilfered.

Since this is such a key requirement for an effective seamless translation system, if your organization would like to participate in the beta program to gain first hand experience in the effective management of translation assets, then contact WorldLingo and request a beta slot for your organization.

3. The delivery of quality translations

The quality of a translation is much broader then simply the correct word here or there. Today "documents" are much more than words. Documents include graphics, sound bites, video, smart tags and much more. In the world of ecommerce, documents include amounts of money specified in various currencies. Maybe these should belong in the realm of localization rather than translation.

3.1 What is the difference between Translation and Localization?

The simple answer is users do not care. That is more detail than they want or need to know. When they seek a document, they expect it in their language. Not just the words, but all the elements.

3.2 A picture tells a thousand words

This universal truism has been totally ignored by the machine translation industry. Pictures, diagrams, and graphics that contain text are simply not translated.

Yet if a picture tells a thousand words, then wouldn't a translated diagram make an enormous difference to the comprehension of machine translated documents?

An untranslated diagram is like waving a red flag at a bull. It jumps off the page and says this document has not been properly translated. A translated picture may not involve the translation of any words, but rather the substitution of a more culturally appropriate version.

A seamless translation system can deliver translated pictures, diagrams, graphics, animations, videos, presentations, sound bites, etc seamlessly to the user.

3.3 Money talks

You know it does.

So why would a translated document include amounts of money in foreign currency. If a user lives in Germany, do amounts in Chinese Yuan really mean anything to the user? Who knows the exact amount they will be charged once exchange rate variations are taken into account?

Yet a seamless translation system on the Internet can easily access current exchange rates for calculating the conversion. The organization could define rules to ensure price points are met. A multi-currency payment facility means the user is charged the exact amount they are quoted. This is one area where Internet based translation systems can deliver a higher quality result than traditional translations. Quality that will add dollars to your bottom line.

If you want to do actual business over the Internet you should make it as easy as possible for people to purchase from you, and people are much more likely to purchase if the prices are in their own currency. The amount is meaningful to them. Moreover, multi-currency payment systems are very easy and cheap to establish today, in as little as three days you could be accepting payments in 120 different currencies.

3.4 Leveraging the organization's translation assets

If an organization makes its translation assets accessible to users, then the users can obtain much higher quality translations, both in terms of accuracy and consistency. These translation assets include:

  • Pre-existing translations,
  • Translation memory,
  • Terminology databases,
  • Localized graphics, pictures, diagrams, video, sound bites and other complex elements,
  • Specialized machine translation engines, and
  • Style guidelines.

Invisibly to the user, a seamless translation system will use these translation assets to obtain the best translation available for the user. Key to this is the organization's Translation Asset Management System.

3.5 Speed is a quality issue as well

Speed is a key component of the quality of a user's Internet experience. Slow page loads cause users a great deal of stress and make the whole process tiresome. Given the chance, they will gladly go to another site that does not have the delays.

Even though Seamless Translation involves a lot more intensive processing, it needs to deliver the resulting translation faster. To achieve this sophisticated caching is required.

4. A different way of processing documents for translation

Internet documents are three-dimensional. You navigate through them, rather then read from top to bottom. Sophisticated marketers design websites to tunnel users through to the desired end.

For a translation system to be seamless it must navigate through the website with the user, taking the cookies, JavaScript, Perl, CGI scripts, multimedia elements, in its stride. It must deliver the user through to the end of the tunnel designed by the marketer, say to a shopping cart and payment page.

This processing system must be open and able to communicate through XML interfaces like TMX and TBX. It should efficiently access the translation asset management systems for the organization that owns the document and use the caching systems efficiently.

This processing system is mission critical and must run 24 hours a day seven days a week without fault. It must be able to scale and process very high volumes of translations, because as more and more users successfully use seamlessly translated documents, they will want to access more and more documents.

5. Translating economics into good business sense

In a perfect world, every organization would have all their information translated into every language, by subject experts located in each country around the world. Naturally this translation would be edited and proofread. It would be localized perfectly for each country taking into account all the cultural considerations. Transactions would be in the local currency and the translations would be constantly updated so they are always current. All communication associated with that information would take place in the local language. Moreover, all this would translate instantly.

Unfortunately, economics intrudes on the perfect world and there are few, if any organizations for which the scenario painted above is feasible. Consciously or sub-consciously, every organization makes decisions about what they will translate into which languages and what they will not. Invariably that decision is driven by the likely return on the translation investment.

Seamless Translation will change the dynamics of this cost/benefit analysis by introducing a mid-point. This will allow foreign language speakers to access much more of an organization's information in a usable manner increasing both sales and customer satisfaction levels.

5.1 One man's trash is another man's treasure

The value a user places on a piece of information could be vastly different to the value placed on that information by the information owner. An organization may have reams of technical support notes or user group discussions that it could not cost justify having translated by a human translator.

However, if one of those notes or discussions contains the solution to a particular problem a foreign language speaker is having, the user may be prepared to pay for a human translation. However, first the user has to find the likely support notes or discussions that could provide the answer. This is an optional extra you can add to Seamless Translation. It puts more information in the hands of the user, information upon which a user can make a decision - is this worth getting human translated to get the exact solution to my problem?

Often when users are searching for solutions, they feel like they are searching for a needle in a haystack. If you were searching for such a needle, would you appreciate someone saying the needle is under one of those ten pieces of straw? Seamless Translation can do that for a user.

5.2 Use real data to drive your translation expenditure

Statistics based on the actual use of the organization's information show which documents are in most demand for each language. Through Seamless Translation, an organization can understand which information they will gain the most from by having it translated by a human.

Using this data generated from a seamless translation system will help the organization derive greater benefit from each dollar they spend on human translation.

6. Theory versus Practice

In theory, many organizations would like to centrally manage this seamless translation process and the assets associated with it. However, that is not the way the Internet was built or the way it works.

The Internet is incremental by its very nature - seeing what works and adding to it. The Internet moves too fast for any five year grand plan tightly controlled from the center.

To be successful, a seamless translation system must allow an organization to put the infrastructure in place for use by users of its information, but then allow the users to utilize that infrastructure in an adhoc manner - because they will.

7. Seamless translation

This is what we call "Seamless TranslationTM" and all the building blocks are either here today or are in advanced stages of development and will ship over the next 6 to 12 months. I can tell you this because WorldLingo is shipping and developing many of these components. We are careful to ensure easy integration with the other pieces of the puzzle.

So now, it is up to you to decide whether your organization is going to be one of the winners from the Seamless Translation revolution. Will your organization use Seamless Translation to:

  • Generate increased revenues,
  • Cut translation costs,
  • Achieve broader and deeper market penetration,
  • Provide reliable, proven services to your organization as you enter new markets, and
  • Be a leader in delivering a new business model of relationship services that most international customers only dream of today

7.1 And the winners are

As promised in the introduction, here is the profile of the organizations best placed to be winners from Seamless Translation. They will already be heavy users of translation services and have:

  • Substantial translation assets:
  • Translation Memory
  • Terminology databases
  • Pre-existing translations
  • Style guidelines
  • Localized graphics, pictures, diagrams, video, sound bites and other complex elements
  • Large amounts of information that cannot be translated by humans in an economically feasible way,
  • Clients, employees, and stakeholders that speak different languages,
  • Recognized the decision as to what information to translate is no longer theirs. The user will translate it, however badly, if they want to. The challenge for the organization is to make it as easy as possible for the user to obtain a good translation that casts the organization in a favorable light, and
  • Stand to benefit commercially by making that information available to foreign language speakers through:
  • Increased sales (people are 4 times more likely to buy if you communicate with them in their native language)
  • Increased customer loyalty through better customer service - for example the provision of FAQs and support notes in the users language may let users solve many of their own problems and even prevent them in the first place, and
  • Greater employee involvement in international policies, discussions,and project teams

7.2 If they

1. Put a strategy in place to appropriately make their translation assets available to users of their nformation and start to roll it out over the next 3 to 12 months.

2. Start making Seamless Translation technologies available to users of their information over the next 6 to 24 months. Not by employing a big bang approach, but a piece-by-piece implementation that allows for learning and refinement.

3. Invest in translation assets that have a high leverage ratio. This might be by having the common graphical elements on the organizations website localized into several languages. Or expanding their terminology database to include the terms their organization uses over and over again.

4. Look at the business process the information is involved in and address any weak links. So if it is an ecommerce site focused on selling goods - get a multi-currency payment facility in place e.g. If it is a customer support site, make sure you have the infrastructure for effective two-way communication in place - multi-lingual chat and email translation.

5. Recognize the information user may place a higher value on a more accurate translation then the organization does. Make it easy for the user to request a more accurate translation and leverage the organization's translation assets to make it cost effective for the user. The side benefit for the organization is the translation funded by that user adds to and enhances the organization's translation assets.

8. Work with us

WorldLingo is determined to be the leading supplier of Seamless Translation technologies. So if your organization fits the profile of a winner and is keen to take the steps to make sure it wins from the Seamless Translation revolution, then why not start working with us now.

Join our advisory panels, participate in our working groups, test the technologies, and suggest improvements that will make Seamless Translation work better for your organization - in short join the revolution.

Contact WorldLingo and let's start working together. It is an exciting road ahead and we would love to have you on board.

©Copyright WorldLingo 2005

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Seamless Translation - Delivering for the user

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