Microsoft Translator Blog

U.S. Army Europe Automates Database Translation with Microsoft Translator

U.S. Army Europe, headquartered in Germany, is tasked with the mission of training, equipping, deploying, and providing command and control of troops to enhance transatlantic security. To support that mission, it employs many local nationals for civilian jobs such as landscaping, food services, and maintenance. Most of the applicants for these jobs come from surrounding European countries, and they apply in their local language using an online employment application.

All of the application data was stored in a homegrown SQL Server database used for screening and hiring employees, and validating their access to the base once hired. By 2014 the database had hundreds of thousands of applications dating back 30 years.

At about that time, U.S. Army Europe launched a project to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics CRM with the goal of streamlining the application process, providing more efficient analysis and reporting tools, and making more readily actionable data available to force leaders. Before the migration, the non-English information in the SQL Server database needed to be translated to make it usable for reporting and research. The challenge was how to translate that data.

After discussing the idea with his Army customer and members of the Microsoft Translator team, Sam Lester, a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer who supports SQL Server applications for U.S. Army Europe, developed a proof of concept for an automated SQL Server translation tool using the Microsoft Translator API. The proof of concept was approved quickly and Lester spent less than 20 hours completing the code. Several hundred rows of sample data were successfully translated into English resulting in enthusiastic approval from U.S. Army Europe.

The final version of the tool automatically translated several thousand records in the historical database into English in just a few minutes. Once the translation was done, the team was able to automate database normalization to more efficiently organize the data and eliminate redundancies in preparation for the migration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

By using the Microsoft Translator API to create a SQL Server translation tool, U.S. Army Europe was able to expand the usability of its local national screening database, identify applicants who apply multiple times and may have been denied in the past leading to enhanced security in their screening, expedite translation, and save more than $150,000 in translation costs, roughly 1,750 hours of human translation time. The tool also enhanced force protection by presenting senior leaders with English language data that they were able to use to make better informed decisions.

To learn more about U.S. Army Europe’s implementation of the Microsoft Translator API read the full case study.

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