SDL Slate

Why Business Users Need Simple, Innovative Ways to Break Language Barriers in a Post-COVID-19 World

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. It is from this standpoint that businesses all around the world strive to innovate their services and build new technologies. The current pandemic has caused all of us to look at how we operate and conduct business—and prepare to operate in the post-COVID-19 world.

Past economic downturns have shown that digital natives do better in the aftermath. That is because they embrace technology and are able to realize efficiencies through automation that their non-digital counterparts forego. These digital natives were the first to fully embrace the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI). While others fear change, digital natives embrace it.
Even before COVID-19 hit us, we have been helping our customers leverage AI to remove bottlenecks, simplify processes, and make content intelligent. SDL itself transformed from a language and technology provider to an intelligent language and content company.

The issue we took upon ourselves is how would a digital native approach the very real problem of helping a business user, working within an agile enterprise, be more self-sufficient when they receive or need to send a document in a foreign language. We knew this needed to be online, it had to be accurate, and the turnaround would need to be quick. For a business user, options are fairly limited. They can:

  • Get in line for translation resources that are likely shared and often very busy.
  • Try and get a colleague(s) that speaks the language(s) they need to help them, but then, how many of us are polyglots?
  • Scour the internet for a reliable and secure solution they can use right now.

For these users, time is of the essence. They could often run into these situations several times a month and, each time, they are faced with the same three rather unreliable choices.

We realized early on that automation would have to play a major part in this – to level the playing field and make it cost effective for this segment of the market. In the post-COVID-19 world we are starting to see an increased emphasis on the simplicity and efficiency of process. Customers want a smart solution which retains a best-in-class service delivered on a secure platform.

As the intelligent language and content company we at SDL have long seen AI as the core of language technology and we are harnessing its power to transform language services as well. We are capitalizing on SDL’s years of experience to transform how these services are delivered, how these services are consumed, and how these services are performed.

For language technology, AI is the power behind neural machine translation, language detection, intelligent routing and the many technologies that are categorized as SDL Linguistic AI™. SDL is taking this AI foundation and layering it into a service platform that is being built for business users.

AI in customer self-service is right behind robotic process automation in terms of growth, according to Nemertes Research. Industry disruptors like Uber, Airbnb, Netflix and Amazon created disruption through AI. Advancements in AI helped these leaders turn traditional brick and mortar industries, personal services, and entertainment on their heads. It did so because with every click, every interaction, and every engagement the systems were built to learn. This knowledge helped the leaders set new bars in terms of expectations and created a new service vocabulary. For example:

  1. You stopped calling for or waving down a cab, and started searching for available drivers willing to give you a ride.
  2. You stopped looking at vacation rentals as a means of creating the familiar, and started looking at lodging as a uniquely local, truly personal experience.
  3. You started relying on your technology to point you to things you hadn’t thought of – entertainment you would enjoy, products you didn’t know you needed.

For translation services, AI has the potential to disrupt. And SDL is working on creating this disruptive technology-first, expert-driven service for the mass market. A service that anyone can use with an experience that is powered by AI to eliminate clicks, confusion and frustration. As the nature of work changes with COVID-19, and work becomes even more distributed, and team members work independently – but very much connected – the time is absolutely right for this kind of service.

For translation services, AI can help bring an end to the issues that plague traditional translation workflows in a digital environment: 
  1. No more upfront selections: users have to identify the topic of their document, the language, the tone, and intent and recreate an onboarding call using countless clicks.
  2. No more choosing between human and machine: users have to pick either black-box machine translation for instant translation or behind-the-scenes manual efforts delivered by invisible translators—if something is in between, the relationship between these two is unclear and the resourcing is hidden.
  3. No more complex pricing plans: your boss needs 5 documents translated right now—when time is of the essence the last thing you need is the extra complication of counting the words vs. the cost, or having to figure out which of the documents require complex/expensive translations.
  4. No more rogue consumer tech in the business: often popular, automatic free translation tools were developed for consumer domains and never meant for business use. Features creates mistakes, re-work, missed deadlines and frustration with technology.
  5. No more bottlenecks: often online systems are backed by manual processes and hand-offs that are just as error-prone, if not more so, than traditional personal project plans. The behind-the-scenes manual efforts are blind to the many selections made by the user—automation is implied, but never truly delivered.
We have always prided ourselves on responding to the needs of our customers. When our customers came to us with requests for services that blended technology and people, we recognized there was a need for smarter solutions to problems that shouldn’t exist in the modern technology age—but do.

SDL Language Cloud re-invented the model for translation through its application of Linguistic AI™. Now, this same foundation will be used to create a new, smarter way to translate for everyone. We are building a new foundation, a clean slate, and will be bringing it to you this summer.