In the second announcement in recent weeks by Microsoft in relation to localization and its major product lines, Microsoft has announced new translation capabilities for Yammer messages, enabling users to translate messages into their native languages.
Early in February it had announced localization plans for the upcoming release of SharePoint 2013, but this looks different in that the translation capability is built into Yammer itself.
Yammer Message Translation
Adding these capabilities should have the effect of turning Yammer into a truly global communication and collaboration tool. Global enterprises, for example, that need a collaborative tool across geographical and linguistic boundaries can now offer it to employees scattered all over the world and reasonably expect them to communicate effectively using it.
At the user end it all looks pretty simple. Whenever a conversation includes a language different from the default language of the application, a translate button appears below the initial post. Clicking on it will translate the entire conversation and related responses into the users’ language. A ‘show original text’ will return the conversation back to the original language.
For the initial launch that is planned for late spring 2013, there will be 39 languages but it would not be a surprise if more appear depending on whether it works or not.
It remains to be seen how the translation option works as many machine translations are passable but not of enterprise quality. Anyone that has tried to use the translate option in Google, for example, will know how frustrating these tools can be.
However, for Microsoft there is a lot at stake here and Yammer needs to justify the US$ 1.2 billion price tag. Over the past months it has started slowly integrating Yammer into the Microsoft product portfolio, the latest being the announcement that there will be deeper SharePoint-Yammer integration in the new Office 365 release over the coming months.
The result has been a pretty good year for Yammer. Sales for 2012 tripled year-over-year, fourth quarter sales quadrupled year-over-year, the number of paying customers increased 165% and Yammer’s number of registered users is now over 7 million.
But, according to Yammer itself, 65% of its users are located outside of the US, which means adoption is severely limited outside of America. It’s a small improvement, but one that could make a big difference. If you’re interested in more on the translation capabilities, check out the video below.