Following the latest news that Microsoft has enabled an instant translation feature for Skype, Geoffrey Bowden, general secretary of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), warns of the dangers for businesses relying on such basic services, and argues the need for them to invest in the services of language service providers when doing business overseas.
Geoffrey commented on the growing disconnect between business and cultural needs: “This latest development brings to light the potential dangers of businesses underestimating the importance of cultural needs. While translation services such as these may be convenient for personal use, the value of cultural knowledge when building relationships in business is often underestimated. The ability to really get to grips with a business culture will be considerably lessened by an insensitivity towards a different language.
“In such a fast moving world, there is an obvious need for quick and easy translation. However, it must be noted that translation tools such as these are in no way fool-proof, and may create a false impression that effective translation can take place through instant software. Although this may work well for websites such as Twitter and other similar social networks where imperfections in translation are acceptable, it is not appropriate for businesses to think these tools are an effective and accurate means of translating large volumes of information.
“If a business would wish to make use of a similar feature, it is recommended that they seek the advice and support of a translation company belonging to a professional body such as the Association of Translation Companies.”