5 Considerations When Measuring Machine Translation ROI

Machine translation has revolutionized global communication in an increasingly interconnected world, fundamentally altering how businesses operate across borders. Breaking down linguistic barriers has enabled unprecedented access to international markets, fostering a more inclusive global economy. This transformation has been a boon for international businesses, allowing them to engage with diverse audiences and expand their reach. 

However, this progress has its challenges. Dependence on machine translation can lead to nuances being lost in translation, cultural misunderstandings, and potential miscommunications. So, in this article, we will explore these challenges and how you can maximize the Return on Investment (ROI) by using machine translation.

Measuring ROI from Machine Translation Technology 

When analyzing whether your machine translation ROI strategy is successful, you need to consider the factors listed below.   

1) Reduced Time-to-Market

Time-to-market, the period from product conception to market availability, is vital for competitiveness in today's fast-evolving business world. Speedier launches help companies capture market share quickly, meet consumer demands promptly, and outpace competitors. A report from McKinsey & Company states that businesses that reduce their time-to-market can achieve up to 37% higher profits. This efficiency maximizes a product's lifecycle and profitability and showcases a company's agility and adaptability. Reducing time-to-market is thus crucial for success in diverse, dynamic markets, ensuring businesses stay relevant and responsive to evolving consumer needs.

2) Savings from Machine Translation Integration

Machine translation integration offers significant cost savings, reducing translation expenses by up to 50%, compared to hiring human translators or native-speaking staff. Advanced tools like Google Translate and DeepL provide quick, cost-effective, and reasonably accurate translations, ideal for routine, high-volume tasks. While they lack the nuanced accuracy of human translators for specialized content, their efficiency makes them practical for specific applications, effectively balancing cost and speed with the need for precision in global communications.

3) Scalability of the Machine Translation Integration 

Prior to machine translation (MT) integration, providing content in multiple languages was challenging and time-consuming for businesses, often taking weeks to months to add a new language. The introduction of MT has drastically changed this, making the process highly scalable by reducing the time needed to cater to various new languages. This enhanced scalability has streamlined global outreach, significantly cutting costs and time. MT has revolutionized the approach to multilingual content, making it more efficient and accessible for a diverse, global audience.

4) Improvements in Workflow and Translation Quality

Translation management can be streamlined through process automation, allowing teams to achieve more with less manpower and minimizing distractions across departments. Additionally, software-driven workflows provide valuable, real-time data, ensuring all stakeholders maintain a clear view of project progress, balancing efficiency with informed oversight. Before and after implementing a Translation Management System (TMS), assess translation accuracy. Check if the TMS minimizes frequent errors, as higher-quality translations can lead to substantial time and cost savings

5) Actual Impact on Revenue

Assessing the revenue impact of translation requires analyzing key factors, though it's complex. Key areas include:

  • Revenue vs. Translation Cost: Compare the costs of translation services with the resulting changes in revenue.

  • Conversion Rate: Monitor conversion rate variations after implementing translated content, reflecting its effectiveness in engaging a global audience.

  • Traffic Analysis: Evaluate website traffic by country and language to identify responsive markets.

  • Market Share: Track market share shifts in targeted regions, indicating the success of translation strategies.

  • New Customers and B2B Clients: Count the increase in leads following multilingual content introduction.

Together, these metrics offer valuable insights into the financial return on translation investments.

Better Monitoring with Translation Management Systems

Translation Management Systems (TMS) offer a suite of features beyond the capabilities of Machine Translation (MT) engines, enhancing the efficiency and quality of the translation process. A key distinction is that while MT engines focus solely on the translation task, TMS provides an integrated platform for managing the entire translation workflow.

  1. Project Management: TMS enables efficient project management, tracking and organizing multiple translations, task assignments, deadlines, and resource allocation, unlike standalone MT engines.

  2. Quality Assurance Tools: TMS provides advanced quality tools like terminology management and automated error checks, ensuring consistent, error-free translations, unlike standalone MT engines.

  3. Collaboration Features: TMS enhances team collaboration with features like in-context review, comment threads, and version control, which are essential for group translation projects.

  4. Integration Capabilities: TMS seamlessly integrates with business systems like CMS, streamlining diverse content translation, a feature lacking in basic MT engines.

  5. Detailed Reporting and Analytics: TMS provides detailed reports and analytics on translation performance, timelines, and costs, aiding in strategic decision-making.

Alternatives to TMS include partnering with translation agencies or freelance translators, using primary MT engines for simple translations, and hiring in-house bilingual staff for smaller, language-specific projects. Each option caters to different scales and complexities of translation needs.

However, these alternatives may lack the comprehensive, streamlined workflow management that a TMS offers, especially for larger or more complex translation requirements.

Choosing the Translation Technology that Fits Best

Selecting the right translation technology requires businesses to evaluate their workflow for effective Machine Translation (MT) integration. Key considerations include the volume and frequency of translations, with MT ideal for high-volume, routine tasks. Assessing the nature of the content is vital; MT suits general material, while human translators are preferred for nuanced, culturally sensitive content. Factors like accuracy needs, budget constraints, and integration capability with existing systems are also crucial. The decision should balance efficiency, cost, and quality, ensuring the translation solution fits the business's goals and operations that optimize your global communication and outreach.