How AI Supports Translations in Business
The relationship between AI and the translation industry, similar to the relationship between AI and other industries, is not a surprising one. Whenever there is a ‘new tech on the block,’ the race for who can get the most out of it begins. Those who are late to the party mostly miss out on all the fun. It is an agelong struggle for relevance and innovation. Man is constantly trying to improve his way of living. This tango between AI and translations began decades ago, well, not AI exactly, but machine.
The Integration of AI in Translation
Before anyone even dreamed of AI, there was machine translation. Machine translation sought to translate texts from one language to another using computational algorithms. The earliest known attempts date back to the 1950s when researchers at IBM and Georgetown University demonstrated an automatic translation of more than 60 Russian sentences into English.
Statistical Machine Translation
Next up, the late 1980s and early 1990s marked a shift towards statistical methods of translation. Statistical machine translation (SMT) used statistical models to analyze large bilingual text corpora, learning translation patterns and probabilities.
Neural Machine Translation
A little later, came Neural Machine Translation (NMT). With the advent of deep learning, NMT emerged in the 2010s, utilizing neural networks to translate texts. NMT provided more fluent and contextually accurate translations compared to earlier methods.
Over a decade later, we are here now with machine (AI) models like Chat GPT, DeepL, Google Translate, and Bing Microsoft Translator, amongst many others, that can translate hundreds of languages in mere seconds!
Using AI for Business Translations
What does all of this mean for businesses? It means the door of opportunity has been thrown open, with boundless possibilities, available. Businesses have always required accurate translations, nothing new there, but they’ve had to rely solely on human translators in the past, which can be slow, more time-consuming and may not even be easy to come by, thereby putting a strain on the business.
Imagine this: You are a business owner, and you need to translate a bunch of marketing materials for a campaign from French to Japanese. In the past, you would need to find a translator who is fluent in both French and Japanese and what do you do if you cannot find one who is fluent in both languages? You may need two translators then, one to translate first from French (the source language) to a mid-language and then finally to Japanese (the target language). Sounds like a lot of work right? It also sounds like a lot of time and money from your pocket.
Here, I asked Bing to translate a text from our Brand book from English to French, and then from French to Japanese, and all of this took me 2 minutes to do!
English to French translation
French to Japanese translation
There are lots of ways you can use AI to achieve effectiveness in your business, everyone is doing it and there is room for more businesses to join in. If you are a business owner who is curious about how you can channel AI’s powers to support translation in your business, we share some vital points to help you do this here:
- Customer Support
- Quality Assurance Checks
- Internal and External Communication
- Product Documentation and Manual
- Human Resources
Integrating AI into your customer support platform can be very helpful for everyone, support staff on one end and the customer on the other. Companies like Shopify have started testing AI systems to take support roles, while over here at Translayte, an AI system that allows a human support staff to communicate with customers in their language via emails or chats is already in full swing, among other things. There are also Large language models (LLMs) that allow customers to find an article for their issue in seconds! This enables your support team to be free to tackle more complicated issues. By leveraging AI in customer support, you can enhance efficiency, provide multilingual support, and improve customer satisfaction.
Quality Assurance Checks
There is almost no business you can think of that does not need quality assurance, and it does not matter if your output is a product or a service. You need to be able to check that your output is excellent as this directly affects your brand’s growth. No one likes getting callbacks. We have also integrated an AI tool that ensures each translation is error-free, and compliant with the criteria we are given by the customer and the effect on our customer satisfaction has been notable.
Internal and External Communication
In today's globalized world, businesses often need to communicate across different languages and cultures. AI-powered translation can play a pivotal role in bridging these language gaps.
If your company has multiple offices in different countries, AI translation can help employees collaborate effectively, regardless of language barriers. To do this, you can integrate your major communication channels like Slack or Microsoft Teams with translation plugins to allow real-time translation of messages. Repeat the same for your external communication channels. Implementing AI translation into your communication channels can be a straightforward process.
Product Documentation and Manual
The globalization of products necessitates the translation of product documentation and manuals into various languages. By translating your product guides and manuals into the languages of your target markets, you enhance accessibility and usability for your customers worldwide. AI translation, combined with human oversight, ensures that the translated documents retain the technical accuracy and consistency needed for complex products.
Human Resources is another area where AI translation can bring significant benefits, especially in diverse and international companies. To start with, If you are hiring from different countries, AI translation can help translate resumes and applications, enabling you to assess candidates from various linguistic backgrounds. Training materials can be translated to cater to employees who speak different languages, ensuring that everyone has equal access to growth and development opportunities, policies, and surveys. Internal communications can also be translated to ensure that all employees understand their rights, responsibilities, and the company's values and culture. Finally, with various labour laws and regulations in different countries, translating legal and compliance documents accurately is crucial.
AI translation, possibly combined with expert human review, ensures that these documents meet the legal standards of different jurisdictions. Imagine a world where you can onboard new team members in a matter of weeks or days, compared to the months it usually takes.
Benefits of AI Translations in Business
The benefits of incorporating AI into your business translations are very attractive. It is enough to convert any AI doubter into an advocate, it sure did for the people at Helpscout. Here are some benefits of AI translation for your business:
- Increased efficiency and speed: AI translation leverages machine learning algorithms to translate vast amounts of text in a matter of seconds. Unlike manual translation, which can be time-consuming, AI-powered tools can handle bulk translations quickly. This rapid turnaround time is crucial for your business if you need to respond to global markets, manage international communication, or launch products simultaneously in various regions. The speed of AI translation enhances the agility of your business, allowing you to react to global trends and customer needs, swiftly.
- Consistency and accuracy of results: Consistency is particularly beneficial in technical fields where specific terminology is needed. Moreover, many AI translation tools offer the ability to create custom translation memories or glossaries, ensuring that specific industry terms are translated accurately and uniformly across all content. The combination of consistency and accuracy enhances the professionalism and credibility of your business's multilingual communications.
- Cost cutting: Traditional human translation can be costly, especially for large-scale projects or continuous translation needs. AI translation tools, on the other hand, often operate on a subscription basis or charge per word at a significantly reduced rate. By automating the translation process, you can save on labour costs and allocate resources more effectively elsewhere.
- Steady improvement and adaptation: One of the unique advantages of AI translation is its ability to learn and adapt. As the system processes more texts and receives feedback, it can refine its algorithms to provide more nuanced and accurate translations. This continuous learning process enables the translation system to adapt to evolving language trends, industry jargon, and cultural nuances. Businesses that actively manage and update their AI translation tools can benefit from this ongoing improvement, ensuring that their translations remain relevant and effective in a dynamically changing global landscape.
- Enhanced global reach: AI translation removes language barriers, enabling businesses to reach audiences across the world. Whether it's localizing a website, translating marketing materials, or communicating with international partners, AI translation facilitates global expansion and engagement. It opens doors to new markets and allows businesses to connect with diverse customers, partners, and employees, fostering a truly global presence.
Limitations of AI Translations
While AI translations offer many benefits, they also come with certain limitations that need to be considered, such as lack of nuance and context understanding, difficulty with complex content, dependency on the quality of source text, and ethical concerns. By recognizing these limitations and employing strategies to mitigate them, businesses can utilize AI translations effectively without compromising quality or security. Below, we explore some key constraints of AI translation:
- Lack of Nuance and Context Understanding: Currently, AI algorithms struggle with subtleties, idioms, metaphors, and cultural references. They often translate texts literally without grasping the underlying meaning or context, which can lead to misunderstandings. But we should see improvement in this area in the coming years.
- Difficulty with Complex or Technical Content: Highly specialized content may pose a challenge to AI translation tools. Accuracy may suffer when dealing with industry-specific jargon, complex sentence structures, or intricate concepts that require human expertise and understanding. It is in response to these that we offer our tiered professional translation services to tackle your translation needs on any level of specialization you may require.
- Dependency on Quality of Source Text: AI translation is highly dependent on the quality of the source text. Poorly written or ambiguous content can result in inaccurate translations, as the machine may lack the ability to interpret or clarify unclear language.
- Ethical and Privacy Concerns: Using AI translations for sensitive or confidential information may raise ethical issues. Some online tools may store or analyze translated content, potentially exposing sensitive data.
- Limited Effectiveness with Low-Resource Languages: Most AI translation tools work best with widely spoken languages for which large datasets are available for training. Translations between less common or minority languages may be less accurate due to limited training data. But hopefully, with innovations like T-LM, this may soon become a thing of the past.
- Homogenization of Language: By relying heavily on algorithms trained on vast datasets, AI translations might inadvertently contribute to the homogenization of language, losing regional dialects or unique cultural expressions.
The Future of Translation With AI
The future of translation with AI holds a world brimming with possibilities and unprecedented advancements. As we look forward to what lies ahead, several key trends and innovations stand out:
- Increasing Contextual Understanding: Future AI models are expected to develop a deeper understanding of nuances, idioms, and cultural references. Research is focusing on training algorithms to comprehend context, making translations more meaningful and accurate.
- Collaboration between Humans and AI: The synergy between human expertise and AI's computational power will likely shape the future of translation. Human translators will work alongside AI, harnessing its efficiency while adding the human touch where needed. Helpscouts CEO, Nick Francis thinks LLMs have a ceiling, and cannot steal human jobs, because people are way smarter than LLMs.
- Ethical and Responsible Use: As AI translation becomes more prevalent, the industry will need to address ethical and privacy concerns robustly, establishing guidelines and best practices for responsible use.
In conclusion, the future of translation with AI is poised to redefine the way we communicate and interact across languages and cultures. The fusion of technological innovation, human insight, and ethical consideration will drive this transformation, making our world more connected, understanding, and enriched. The businesses that embrace these opportunities will not only overcome language barriers but also forge stronger, more authentic connections with their global audiences.