We recently hosted an executive roundtable discussion looking at one of the hottest industry topics – Neural Machine Translation (NMT) – and its potential impact on a brand’s ability to engage with a global audience. SDL’s Neural Machine Translation Roundtable took place in Beijing, China, and welcomed MT experts from Alibaba, Huawei, Tencent, and Focus Technology.
Ms. Nancy Tao, General Manager for SDL’s Greater China Region, opened the roundtable with an overview of the current global climate. “Our world is undergoing rapid change, from big data to mobile applications, AI and other technical innovations. In order to respond to the challenges brought about by such trends, corporations must undergo a digital transformation – with content as the currency and the bedrock of digitization.” Ms. Nancy Tao pointed out, “And as a result, it’s extremely important for corporations to have a content management strategy in place to create, manage and deliver content at scale.”
Insights from the experts
One business helping some of China’s biggest brands through their own digital transformation journey is SDL’s partner Focus Technology. The company’s e-commerce manager, Mr. Marcel Ning, shared his insights on the challenges and coping strategies that one of its biggest customers encountered during its recent digital transformation.
“The company has 8.3 million customers around the globe. The website offers more than 30 million products from China, and contains hundreds of billions of words of product information. This includes nearly 2 billion words in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Russian alone.”
“It would be nearly impossible to accomplish this level of translation manually, so a stable and efficient NMT solution was the only answer,” said Mr. Zhiyuan, who explained how Focus Technology decided on SDL’s ETS to help their customer manage this level of content creation and translation. The decision to move to SDL ETS was based on the platform’s “security, stability, controllability, efficient scalability, greater quality, and customization” capabilities. It’s what customers need today.”
The discussion moved to other major China firms who also face the same challenge when dealing with the amount of content required to engage with customers – and colleagues – globally.
Mr. Li Gang, MT Project Manager, Huawei, explained his company’s enormous challenge. “Due to Huawei’s vast overseas market, we translate a large volume of product manuals requiring a high level of quality and accuracy. Among the company’s 180,000 employees, 40,000 are located overseas, so we also have a need for translation for internal communications. External customers who receive Huawei information or get involved in after-sale Q&As also require translation. These factors have all prompted Huawei to increase its proportion of NMT usage. Machine Translation (MT) and Post Editing (PE) will certainly become the trend in the future.”
Tencent, China’s leading provider of internet services, also provided insight into their own approach. Mr. Zeng Qinsong, Tencent WeChat Machine Translation Manager, explained how the company spent all of last year developing a WeChat English translation engine, and will soon develop its own translation system to engage and share information with English speakers. “Down the road, Tencent plans to collaborate with language experts to promote the translation of minority languages. Tencent will also develop its own dedicated Neural Machine Translation (NMT) engines for medicine and technology.”
Mr. Yang Chen, IT Manager, Focus Technology, also highlighted the increasing need for greater security. “As e-commerce has developed, translation volumes have also grown. Of course, MT can play a large role in resolving this issue, but concerns around the stability of translation software and platforms cannot be ignored. In terms of the e-commerce industry, whether or not machine throughput, information security, and software can be optimized, will be a crucial factor for brands.”
Ms. Nancy Tao concluded the event by summarizing how the discussion had clearly marked three areas where NMT can help brands:
- Global communication and collaboration on content between departments (e.g. HR, R&D, legal, and training).
- Real-time translation of content created by users (forums, reviews, requests for applications), which enables employees to meet the needs of clients with various language backgrounds.
- Multilingual content (text, image, video) to provide big data search and analysis for applications, including emotional analysis, electronic search, government intelligence, and emergency response.
“While it may seem like this level of content translation and delivery is far away, the reality is that brands can embrace NMT now as a way to support – and propel – their digital transformation strategies.”
If you would like to read the original blog in Chinese, please click here