The Role of Automation, the Cloud, and the Human Touch in Translation


The Role of Automation, the Cloud, and the Human Touch in Translation

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  October 01, 2014

Automation has been and continues to be an important tool in customer service and in communications as a whole, but when it comes to esoteric matters such as language translation, employing a combination of human and technological resources tends to deliver best results.

Automated translation can be a helpful tool, but can’t be what you rely on completely because of colloquialisms and different grammar, says Kelly Koelliker, director product marketing at KANA. If you do, it just ends up seeming like you’re talking to a machine, she adds, especially since “customers demand a high-quality, personalized experience, and that’s not limited to your English-speaking customers.” Use of automated translation tools is a fine first step, but then there should be human eyes on content delivered via e-mail or website, for example, or provided for agents communicating via any channel, she says.

“Customer service needs to be personal in any language,” says Koelliker. “So you can’t just rely on automated translation services.”

A best practice in content translation and storage, she advises, is that rather having 20 different language repositories, to have systems that can manage one piece of content in all its different forms, and to manage all of that with a centralized control and administration system.

Smartling is a cloud-based translation management company based in New York City. Nataly Kelly, vice president of marketing at the company, notes that the transition to cloud-based applications is becoming more mainstream across the entire business technology landscape, including customer relationship management, marketing automation, accounting, and business intelligence analytics. So why not apply it to language translation as well?

Harnessing cloud-based translation management services can expedite the process of translation and make such services more available to mid-market companies and even SMBs, she says.

“A cloud platform can automate translation workflow processes

between your team and your language service provider and gives you the

ability to leverage previously translated material, which saves time and

improves overall efficiency,” she says. “Plus, a cloud-based global delivery network eliminates the need for you to manually create separate websites for each language. A translation software platform can also be used to translate a customer service mobile app or even training materials for your international call centers, marketing brochures, support content for customers, legal documents, or any other type of documents.”

Rubric is also a content translation company, of which Francoise Henderson is CEO and

Ian Henderson is CTO. The 20-year-old company translates user manuals for Toshiba (News - Alert), and print brochures and websites, for example, for other companies. The bulk of its clients are in the high tech vertical.

The company leverages computer-aided translation, and every phrase is translated by a human and committed to a database. If a phrase occurs later, it can be pulled from that database, which greatly speeds up the translation process.

Henderson says the trend in translation is to move away from uncontrolled unmanaged translation, toward much more managed translation with a project manager. Still, he adds that there are something like 30,000 translation companies worldwide, and that even the biggest companies in this space have less than 1 percent market share.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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