2-page Partner Case Study
Posted: 7/9/2012
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Lionbridge Language Solution Provider Expands Opportunities with Translation Technology

Lionbridge, a translation services provider, wanted to use machine translation to cost-effectively translate user-generated content for its clients. The company incorporated the Microsoft Translator API and Microsoft Translator Hub into its GeoFluent solution to provide high-quality real-time translation for online customer support and dynamic web content.

Business Needs
Today’s global economy demands that organizations find ways to communicate with customers across all channels, even if those customers speak a different language. The same holds true for suppliers, partners, and employees. Lionbridge helps its clients succeed globally by providing translation and localization services that meet their customers’ linguistic and technical requirements in local markets worldwide.

Historically, organizations invest resources in language-related services for only their most important content: marketing materials, product documentation, and training materials. In 2011, however, Lionbridge recognized an opportunity to help clients serve their customers better by providing an automated solution for translating rapidly changing communications, such as user-generated content, forum discussions, and online chat sessions. “Less than 50 percent of our global clients’ customers speak English as their primary language,” says Joe Fiorentino, Vice President and General Manager of Global Software Products at Lionbridge. “That means that more than half of their customers do not fully participate in the user community. In forum discussions, those customers cannot benefit from what others are sharing or contribute their own valuable knowledge for use by the community.”

Using human translation to address the issue was not feasible. “Our clients could not afford to pay human translators to tackle the huge amount of content generated by their forums and customer service chats, and doing so would vastly diminish that content’s value because the translations might take days,” says Fiorentino.

Lionbridge set out to develop a real-time translation solution using machine translation. However, the output from traditional machine translation engines did not meet the company’s quality bar. “Real-time translation does not have to be perfect, but it does need to be understandable and actionable for users,” explains Marcus Casal, Director of Product Management at Lionbridge. “We needed to find a way to customize machine translation so that we could provide timely, cost-effective real-time translation solutions that would add value to our clients.”

In 2011, Lionbridge created GeoFluent, a plug-in software-as-a-service solution that it designed to work with existing customer support platforms, such as LivePerson for support-related chat sessions and Telligent for forum discussions. After trying a different machine translation engine, Lionbridge decided to adopt Microsoft Translator technology, from the Windows Azure Marketplace. The technology
* Thanks to Microsoft Translator, GeoFluent eliminates the language barrier by providing real-time translations …, resulting in significant cost reductions while improving the customer experience. *

Joe Fiorentino
Vice President and General Manager of Global Software Products, Lionbridge

includes the Microsoft Translator API, which provides an intelligent machine translation engine that draws on millions of existing translated sentences for improved baseline quality. The real differentiator, however, is the Microsoft Translator Hub, a breakthrough translation portal that Lionbridge uses to map translations to each client’s terminology.

For example, if a client needs to translate its forum discussions and has localized content into Spanish in the past, Lionbridge can upload the localized material into the Translator Hub to create a custom translation model for that client. “When we use the Translator Hub, the customized output results in a higher level of accuracy,” says Fiorentino. If a client lacks an existing body of content, Lionbridge can rely on the Microsoft Translator API for high-quality baseline translation without customization. In addition to the customization available in the Translator Hub, Lionbridge can use GeoFluent to prevent key branding terminology from being translated at all and can dictate specific translations for key vocabulary.

Clients using GeoFluent have the option of translating into 39 different languages, so a Chinese speaker can read a forum post written in Russian, a Hindi speaker can handle online customer support for a Spanish speaker, and so on. Because the translation occurs in real time, users can interact seamlessly, with far fewer barriers in the worldwide marketplace. “With GeoFluent, our customers now can empower global communities in minutes through real-time language translation,” says Rob Howard, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Telligent.

Lionbridge has a unique, flexible offering for its clients. “By incorporating the Microsoft Translator API and Translator Hub, we can use both robust baseline and customizable models for our customers,” says Fiorentino. “When you combine the technologies, value, and comfort that Microsoft provides with our language expertise and understanding of the needs of our worldwide customers, you get a powerful, scalable value proposition.”

Benefits include:

  • Higher-quality machine translation. Lionbridge has found that using Microsoft Translator technology results in a higher level of user comprehension than typical machine translation because of the use of billions of sentences and scalable infrastructure that go into Microsoft Translator technology. “Thanks to Microsoft, GeoFluent eliminates the language barrier by providing real-time translations that unlock the power of global support and community forums, resulting in huge cost reductions while improving the customer experience,” says Fiorentino.

  • Ease of use. Lionbridge appreciated the ease with which it could incorporate Microsoft Translator capabilities into GeoFluent. “Our core competency does not lie in building translation engines but in providing customized real-time translation that is tightly integrated with our clients’ enterprise community and chat applications,” says Casal. “Microsoft Translator has a well-supported API [application programming interface] that is well-documented and easy to work with.”

  • Scalability. Because Lionbridge plans to support thousands of customers in real time, the company welcomed the scalability that it can achieve with Microsoft Translator. “Using the Microsoft Translator API and Translator Hub dramatically improves our ability to cost-effectively deliver this solution to scale,” says Fiorentino. “We can focus on customer needs because Microsoft has the infrastructure in place to scale to billions of translations per month.”

  • Business opportunity. By embracing Microsoft Translator technology, Lionbridge is poised to take advantage of a market opportunity and add value for clients. “We feel confident we can drive business value by integrating affordable, high-quality translation into existing platforms, thanks in large part to the Microsoft Translator API and Translator Hub,” says Fiorentino.

    Adds Ranny Nachmias, Head of Customer Support at LivePerson, “The real-time, multilanguage capabilities enabled by our GeoFluent solution will further reduce cost and increase value for our customers as part of our global expansion.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 4500 employees

Partner Profile

Waltham, Massachusetts–based Lionbridge provides translation, online marketing, global content management, and testing solutions across all touch points of the customer life cycle. The company is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network.

Software and Services
  • Bing
  • Microsoft Translator Hub
  • Microsoft Azure Marketplace
  • Microsoft Translator
  • Microsoft Translator Application Programming Interface

Vertical Industries
Professional Services

United States