A startling number of translation companies advertise automation in their list of services. It’s perhaps the biggest buzzword in our industry right now. Language service providers (LSPs) of all sizes say that they’re applying AI to automate every step in the localization process—but few actually deliver on that promise. Automation is a layered and nuanced process that varies greatly from company to company.
There is a lot of confusion around what an automatic translation tool is and what we can reasonably expect it to accomplish. The most interesting question is not about machine translation engines such as Google Translate; the most interesting question is about what the latest localization tools can automate for the peak return on your investment and streamlining of time and resources.
Which Automatic Translation Tools Should You Have an Eye On?
When most startups think about translating content, they search for automatic tools that will make the localization process quicker and easier. Their expectations may stretch only as far as a machine translation engine that you can tap into online, feed words into it, and watch it spit new words back out. If you are just such a startup, the space beyond your current understanding is also the space of unlimited potential. The localization automation tools you’re yet unaware of are the ones that will unlock scalability in line with your global ambitions.
Language service providers offer localization workflow automation in several important layers:
Automation of Localization Content Routing
An early and important step of localization automation involves content connectors—API integrations that automate the movement of content from where it lives to where it gets translated and back again. The major advantage of reliable automation in this context is that it sidesteps the outdated, time-consuming model of swapping emails, waiting, and troubleshooting file formats. These practices should be obsolete in light of the latest localization technology and potential. The automation of localization content flow +enables end-to-end workflows for continuous localization and virtually infinite scalability as you take on more and more local markets.
Automation of the Translation Workflow
Another layer of this powerful engine would be automation of the translation workflow itself. The best translation services leverage AI to assign projects to linguists with proven skills and success with similar content. With automated content flow in place, your words can be reliably shuttled among translators, reviewers, even your own in-country teams, and land back in the original content system. All with little or no human workflow interference. Stakeholders need not waste time with the simple administrative tasks and can invest their attention for high-quality content results while leaning on your translation memories for efficiency and consistency.
Automation of Quality Management
Automation also opens doors to intriguing quality management possibilities. With a command line interface (CLI) in place, during development, you can pull machine-translated content into your app or software and get a clear idea of any real estate or other technical issues you might encounter after the translation phase. Identifying these challenges and building solutions into your product from the start will save you lots of time and stress compared to retroactively troubleshooting these common problems.
In the midst of translation, the best automated platforms are built to track approvals, revisions, and other activities. So, if the need arises, you have a real and living record of all the translation traffic—you have plenty of data to evaluate as you develop productive solutions and improvements to your localization strategy.
Content Automation Stems From Human Connection
Some might expect that automation is as easy as flipping a switch. But critically thinking humans have to set up that technology in the first place and ensure it functions properly. The front-end investment here is significant. You’ll need to invest a lot of time and energy to make sure developers, content creators, in-market reviewers, and other stakeholders are connected and collaborating on the automation process.
Automating localization isn’t going to happen overnight. We always recommend taking this process step by step and ensuring proper functioning at regular intervals. Make sure you partner with a content localization service that’s willing to take those steps with you and to be transparent about what’s working and not working behind the scenes.
There’s a difference between a potential vendor being very skilled at marketing their automation and a vendor that can actually prove their skills through implementing functional technology. Don’t just sign up for a $100,000 automated platform and then hope they’ll follow through on their promises. Some vendors can’t make automation work at all. Others rely on advertised automation to cover up the fact that their translation results are sub-par. With the wrong partner, you could automate every step in the process and still end up with poor-quality content.
Human connection is the key to implementing functional automation tools. By engaging, communicating, and problem solving with all stakeholders in a transparent localization ecosystem, you’ll be able to produce multilingual content that reaches audiences and helps achieve your international business goals.
Bureau Works is a localization platform that combines the best of automation and human innovation. Find out how automatic translation tools and workflows can revolutionize your global future. Contact our team to get started.
Written by Aaron Schliem
Aaron is the chief marketing officer for Bureau Works. He also loves to tickle the ivories and is a wiz at designing cocktails.