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Strategic Applications of Machine Translation for Global Businesses

Strategic Applications of Machine Translation for Global Businesses

Machine translation (MT) is a popular tool for global companies that need materials available in local languages.

While neural machine translation is known to produce correct and accurate translations, human post-editing is still an important part of the process. This is because MT is sometimes unable to capture nuances such as brand voice and cultural adaptation, and sometimes fails to understand the context of texts.

Despite this limitation, MT is increasingly used as a core element in localization strategies because it offers practical solutions for multiple business needs, such as: 

  • Cost-effectiveness: MT is significantly cheaper than human translators, especially for large volumes of content
  • Speed: MT can translate documents very very quickly 
  • Scalability: MT engines can translate a large number of documents simultaneously into various languages

This blog looks at the applications of machine translation and how to integrate machine translations into your localization strategies to take your business global efficiently.

E-learning Localization: Roll out global training materials quicker and more efficiently 

man engaged in an e-learning course on this computer

Learning and development materials are tricky to localize because they often contain large volumes of content in different formats such as slides, PDFs, videos, and quizzes. 

Using MT to translate training materials allows Learning & Development and Customer Education teams to roll out global training materials quicker and more efficiently. This can propel business growth by making learning and development more inclusive for global audiences

Companies looking to use MT to localize e-learning may choose to use it with humans-in-the-loop for the following situations:

  • Factual Information: Machine translation excels at translating factual content. This includes things like course descriptions, module titles, and assessment instructions. 
  • Repetitive content: When dealing with training modules that contain repeated elements like instructions, quizzes, or common terminology, MT can ensure consistency across the translated content. 

The context of e-learning localization goes beyond just learning materials for employees training. It also covers materials such as user manuals or learning academies for clients. Thus companies that can benefit from localizing e-learning and training materials include: 

  • Multinational corporations: Large companies with a global workforce can leverage machine translation as a cost-effective way to localize training materials. Offering learning materials in native languages improves overall productivity and knowledge transfer by allowing employees to onboard and complete training more efficiently.
  • Educational institutions: 90% of learners prefer having training materials in their native language. Universities and online learning platforms, such as Udemy or Coursea, may opt to use MT to translate courses for international learners so they have a wider audience reach
  • Software companies: Global software companies often need user manuals and training materials translated to ensure customers know how to use their products properly. Providing this can increase customer loyalty and allow human agents to handle more complex inquiries, thus increasing customer retention rates and reducing costs.  

Software Localization: Increase customer loyalty and prioritize resources

software app design drafting board

In addition to using machine translation to make user manuals and training materials multilingual, software companies can also use MT to localize user interfaces. Doing this can deliver better user experiences and boost engagement by making users feel more comfortable within the software environment.  

Software companies can streamline translation workflows by applying machine translation alongside human expertise in the following situations:  

  • Simple or repetitive content: For straightforward elements like menus, error messages, or common phrases repeated throughout the software, machine translation with a light human review for accuracy and consistency is often sufficient. 
  • Scaling up localization efforts: When dealing with a large software product and numerous target languages, MT allows companies to localize content quicker and reach a broader market. This is especially beneficial for software and apps that are widely used or that need frequent updates. 

Related reading: Discover how Milengo developed a scalable and cost-saving translation strategy for Snowflake

Marketing Translations: Speed up and streamline multilingual content production

lady looking at lots of different types of content on her smartphone

International marketing teams often need to put out large and frequent quantities of content that tell relevant brand stories to local customers. Machine translation can be a powerful tool for speeding up and streamlining multilingual content production for such international marketing strategies. However, it must be combined with humans to ensure that quality, consistency in brand voice, and cultural relevance are met. 

Marketers can leverage machine translation in the following ways: 

  • Creating first drafts quickly: MT and LLMs are a good starting point to quickly generate a first draft of marketing materials like website content, emails, or ad copy. Working in this manner can significantly reduce the time and cost compared to relying solely on human translators. 
  • Targeting new markets: MT can jumpstart your marketing efforts in new markets by providing initial translations of basic marketing materials. However, proofreading remains essential. This approach allows marketing teams to strategically allocate their budget towards high-impact, high-ROI activities.
  • Simple content: For straightforward marketing content with simple layman content, machine translations can be sufficient with a light human review for accuracy and consistency with the brand voice. 
  • E-commerce descriptions: MT can quickly generate translations of product descriptions, allowing you to reach global audiences faster. It is particularly useful as a starting point for simple product descriptions with factual details like size, color, or material. 

While machine translation lets companies reach customers worldwide quickly and cost-effectively, some companies still choose to work with human translators for certain types of marketing materials – especially those that need creative adaptation or that have a significant impact on brand reputation. This is because machine translation is often unable to capture the specific nuances of your brand voice and tone. For this reason, human post-editing is critical to ensure global marketing content maintains the intended brand personality and messaging. 

Technical Documents: Streamline technical translation workflows and reduce costs 

man referring to instruction manual while putting together wooden pieces

Technical documents are an important part of user experiences for multinational companies. Without a clear and well-translated product document, users may end up frustrated and confused with your product.

Using machine translations on technical documents requires a nuanced approach due to the complexities of technical language. However, with the right planning and organization, it works wonders to streamline technical translation workflows and reduce costs. Companies can use MT strategically with a human-in-the-loop to prioritize accuracy, ensure technical coherence, and adapt translations to target audience’s culture.

Here are a few ways machine translation can be strategically applied to your technical documents: 

  • Achieve consistency for repetitive content: MT can ensure consistency across translated content for technical documents with repeated phrases or terminology. 
  • Glossary integration: Modern MT systems can integrate with glossaries containing domain-specific terms and their translations. This improves the accuracy of technical terminology used in the translations. 

Improving your company’s applications of machine translation

The strategic application of machine translation has clear benefits for businesses operating on a global scale. Its ability to produce translations quickly, cost-effectively and at scale is unbeatable. However, its limitations mean it must be used with human experts to ensure a high translation quality.  

Here are some ways you can increase the quality of your machine translation outputs: 

  • Pre-translation preparation: Before using MT, simplify the source language content where possible. This reduces the complexity for MT engines and improves the quality of the initial translation.  
  • Employ domain-specific MT engines: Building a custom machine translation (MT) engine specifically trained on your technical domain or industry corpus can significantly improve translation accuracy. For even better results, you can use this custom engine alongside glossaries and translation memory.
  • Use machine translation with post-editing: Use MT to generate initial drafts. Follow this with a thorough human review and editing by native-speaking translators with expertise in the specific domain. 
  • Quality assurance (QA): Implement a robust QA process to identify and rectify any errors or inconsistencies introduced by MT. 
  • Translator training: Train your human translators to use MT effectively. This includes identifying areas where MT is prone to errors and requires closer attention during post-editing. 
  • Adopt a hybrid approach: Combine technology with human expertise to balance quality and cost. This approach uses MT for specified content sections while reserving human translation for critical sections requiring in-depth understanding and adaptation. 

Streamline your localization processes with Milengo’s strategic machine translation

Whether you’re already using machine translation or considering it for the first time, Milengo can help you optimize your approach.

Want to improve your existing machine translation workflows? Our team of localization experts can analyze your current setup and identify areas for improvement. Through a pilot project, we’ll help you find ways to use MT more effectively, ensuring accurate and efficient translations.

New to machine translation and curious about its potential? We can show you how MT can help your business scale to reach a wider global audience. Get started with a free machine translation pilot project. This pilot will give you a taste of the benefits MT can offer, from faster turnaround times to reduced costs.

During the pilot, our localization experts will propose the best MT technologies and large language models for your translation workflow based on your business needs. Don’t miss this opportunity to get personalized advice on how MT can benefit your company – request your free pilot project today!

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Sophia Guan

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After 11 years in 9-5 roles, Sophia ditched routine to embrace a digital nomad life. With a diverse background in global communications, a strong cultural curiosity, and a passion for bridging cultures and people, she fosters meaningful connections through effective, creative, and unique cross-cultural communication.