How can SMEs benefit from translation technologies?



It is easy to think that only large companies can make use of translation technologies. However, today’s technologies are very scalable and perfectly suited for the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.

In this blog post, we explain which translation technologies are available and what benefits they offer SMEs.

What translation technologies are used today?

Many translation technologies have been developed to serve the needs of large enterprises. Large translation volumes and constant demand have accelerated their development. However, the same technologies can also serve smaller companies equally well. In the end, the need is the same: to get the source text translated into another language as quickly and smoothly as possible. The technologies have been developed over the years, and they have shortened translation turnaround times, improved cost-effectiveness and streamlined the ordering process. Here we present the four most common technologies that offer benefits to businesses of all sizes.

Translation memory remembers previously created translations

The benefits offered by a translation memory system include cost savings, efficiency and consistency. Cost savings are achieved by enabling the re-use of previous translation units (typically, character strings with the length of a single sentence) in future translation projects. This means that a professional translator does not need to translate the whole text from scratch: they can check whether the old translation suggested by the translation memory system, or a part of the suggestion, fits the context of the text to be translated and then edit it as needed. The translator translates all the new texts in the regular way, and they are stored in the same translation memory. This decreases the amount of words to be manually translated, increasing efficiency and shortening the time needed for the translation.

Depending on the text type and the coverage of the translation memory, the cost savings achieved through the use of a translation memory can range from a few percent to tens of percent of the total price of the translation order.

However, it should be remembered that the savings and efficiency are best realized when the texts to be translated are similar. For instance, the translation of a user manual that can be found in the translation memory does not necessarily offer any significant help with the translation of marketing texts nor decrease their price.

The third benefit of the translation memory is consistency. When different translators use the same translation memory, the terminology used in the translation can be kept more consistent. On the other hand, consistency also improves efficiency: if the translator is not fully familiar with the terminology involved in the translation, with the help of the translation memory they do not need to investigate every term from scratch.

Term base keeps the message coherent

Term base are another tool primarily developed for the needs of large enterprises. The main idea is to collect the terminology used by a company in its communication in one place where all employees can easily check the terms and get assistance for using them. The goal is to harmonize the terms used in the company’s internal and external communication. Examples of terms are the names of products and services, other terms related to the company’s operations and terms used more widely in the industry. The need for the coherent use of terms is emphasized particularly in external communication. Read more about the terminology solution we developed for ABB.

Acquiring a term base can also be well-justified when the company has operations in several countries and is engaged in a lot digital marketing. For instance, a challenge in multilingual search engine optimization is that the direct translations of keywords are often not the best choice for search engine visibility. For instance, it needs to be agreed whether to refer to digital learning solutions as “online training”, “elearning” or “web-based learning”. In this case, the company having its own easily accessible and centralized storage place for keywords and their search engine optimized versions in each of the company’s languages really is priceless. A term base is just the tool for this.


Customer portal makes ordering translations easy

Even though a customer portal is not strictly speaking a translation technology, it ties in with other technologies. The purpose of a customer portal is to make ordering translations smooth and fast. At the same time, the customer portal makes the process transparent: the customer can see how their translation is progressing. The portal can also be used for tracking the costs for each individual project and overall.

One of the most important goals of the portal is to decrease the need for sending email. It is much faster and smoother to place the order through the portal. In addition, the portal decreases administrative work. When employees who manage translations get ordering rights for the portal, they can place orders independently, without sending any extra messages and seeking approvals. The translations can also be found in the portal, rather than only in the inbox of the person who ordered them.

Machine translation for tackling huge quantities of text

Of the four technologies, machine translation is the one most clearly related to large translation volumes. However, smaller companies can also benefit from using it. The most important feature of machine translation is its speed and ability to process large translation volumes.

For small and medium-sized enterprises, using a generic or industry-specific machine translation engine is an attractive option. Generic machine translation engines can be used to securely and quickly translate short-lived content and ad-hoc communication, such as chat, instant message and email communication. In these cases, the most important thing is to convey the essential content of the message quickly in the required languages.

A generic machine translation engine is ideal in situations where large quantities of text need to be transferred into another target language. A good example is product reviews at web stores. The amounts of text can get so large that having the reviews translated by professional translators would simply be too big a job.

When a machine translation engine has been trained with industry-specific vocabulary, it can efficiently and quickly produce translations that follow the terms and common expressions of the field in question. When the amount of translations is high but the quality of translation is not a critical factor, machine translation can be used to efficiently produce translations, for example, for technical and well organized content, such as listings and manuals.

There is no need to fear the potentially lower quality of machine translation, as there is always the possibility to have the text post-edited. During post-editing, a professional translator refines the text from machine translation into a more readable and understandable form.

Download our free eBook: Machine translation - from fantasy to professional service

How to get these technologies for your company's use?

Translation memory

during a translation project. So there is no need to separately request it. A new translation memory is created for every new language pair that the company needs in its translations.

The only thing to remember is to verify with the translation service provider who owns the translation memory. When the company owns its translation memory, adding content to it can continue even if the services are centralized to another translation service provider at some point. The customer always retains the ownership of translation memories produced and maintained by Acolad.

Term base

Setting up a term base starts with surveying the needs: for what purpose will the term base be created and which target group the term bank is intended to serve. These matters are discussed with the language service provider. Once the starting point has been established, planning the structure and content of the term base can be started. It is also important to agree on maintenance procedures and who will take care of keeping the content up to date: the supplier, customer or both of them together.

Customer portal

The method of deploying a customer portal varies between language service providers. In practice, the party maintaining the customer portal needs some key company information of the customer so that the customer can place translation orders. In simplified terms, a customer portal can generally be acquired for use by asking and it does not necessarily require an order. According to Acolad’s practice, a customer account and access IDs are created upon the customer’s request.

It is a good idea to take the customer portal into use before the first translation order already. This way, making translation orders by email does not become a routine.

Machine translation

Deploying a machine translation system is a more demanding process, involving more preparations. Charting translation needs, selecting a machine translation solution that suits them and potentially training the machine translation engine constitute a rather long process. Once the preparations are complete, machine translations can be ordered from Acolad through the customer portal. This is the fastest way to obtain a finished machine translation.

The customer always receives data security descriptions for the machine translation system so that they can verify that sufficient measures are in place to ensure data security. For machine translation services ordered from Acolad, the source text is delivered to an external system for translation. Once the material has been translated, the target-language version is delivered to the portal. The text to be translated is not stored in the machine translation system for an extended period.

The technologies have been created to provide assistance

Translation technologies are not the sole privilege of large enterprises. The same technologies can be scaled quite well to also serve the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. For instance, cost savings can be obtained with the use of a translation memory alone. The technologies have been developed to make the work of all parties easier.

Does your company have translation needs with which technology could help, but you do not know how to advance the matter? Please contact us, so our experts can help you get started.

Read our previous blog post: How to choose a language service provider