PALO ALTO, Calif. - Taking a brand international can be tricky. Things can quickly deteriorate unless a company carefully translates the names of its products, marketing content and key materials on its website.

SDL is charging into that challenge head-on through two new initiatives announced here yesterday during SDL Connect, its annual user conference.

Two New Global Solutions

The Global Digital Experience Solution and SDL Global Knowledge Delivery Solution are two paths that in many ways land at the same destination: ensuring the company’s suite of customers can derive more accurate translations for their content and consolidate the

But equally important is the launch of SDL Trados Studio 2017, the latest version of the company’s computer-assisted translation tool. SDL CEO Adolfo Hernandez said the company is focused on an overarching narrative of products that sweep in “the age of understanding.” Both human and machine-powered services are necessary for effective marketing that moves to a global scale.

“I am so focused on clarity. Are we clear about our strategic intent? What's the story? It's very important for me and our team to be very clear as to what we’re about,” he said. “I think we've put a stake in the ground. We’ve decided to be very clear and direct and not be tempted by any distractions. And I know we will thrive by being focused on one, clear thing.”

That effort is providing language translation services, content creation and personalization all from within the same platform. 

The content management solution comes with a package of two million translated words that are available through “advanced machine translation.” With machine learning, computers are able to improve their accuracy by learning user preferences over time.

Additionally, SDL includes transcreation (the process of adapting a marketing message from one language to another) and copywriting services. It taps into bilingual copywriters, who often can do a better job at translating than the the most advanced machines. This can be extended to content productions services such as video, image, graphic, and animation.

Improving Global Understanding

Many of SDL’s partners and customers were singing the same song. It was a testament to the enduring challenge of improving language learning and the fact that human interaction still remains vital.

Loy Searle, director of the Content and Globalization Center of Excellence at Intuit, said the process of hearing from customers and even discovering translation issues can be enlightening. When customers find issues with mistranslations or even language that isn’t exactly as smooth as it can be, it’s a potential learning opportunity for all.

“One of the most powerful things you can do is see someone struggle with your terminology and struggle through a process that could have been done differently. That connection is powerful,” she said.

Translation Can't Be an Afterthought

For Anna Schlegel, the senior director of globalization and information engineering with NetApp, translation is too often an afterthought. As one of the conference’s speakers, she offered her own thoughts on how it can be an easy tactical mistake to make when companies think they can just outsource the translation of web sites and content to others. Potential customers in another company may end up floored at the errors they find and decide that your company isn’t one worth doing business with.

“A translated website doesn't equal a global experience,” he said. “That's just translated content. If you can not call that country in that language, if you can't read technical support, if you can't chat with them, and if any of that is not well thought out, it can actually be worse than having no translation at all. I think you're going to let the customizer think they're going to be taken care of, when in reality it may not be the case.”

Achieving SDL's Objectives

SDL says that 70 percent of the translators in the field are using the company’s technology. The new portfolio will be part of a race to stay competitive in a field that has the attention of the largest technology companies. Google recently announced, for example, an upgrade to its Translate platform by tapping into neural networks.

CEO Hernandez said the new efforts are the culmination of what the company has been building towards.

“It's consistent with who we have been,” he said. “It's not like we're trying to reposition a company and build a set of concepts that are not within our grasp. of what are in our grasp. This is what we’ve been known for during the past several years. And everything we’ve shared today demonstrates we know exactly where we’re going.”