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June 8, 2018updated 15 Jul 2022 12:20pm

Unbabel and Microsoft Roll Out New Translation Services

Product aims to remove market constraints for enterprises

By CBR Staff Writer

Unbabel has launched the first “translation-as-a-service” suite for Microsoft Dynamics 365 – bringing AI-powered translation of 28 languages to the company’s set of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management tools. A beta is available now.

The service is powered by a combination of AI and a network of 50,000 human translators. It is the first such offering available on Microsoft AppSource.

Sorely Needed

Describing the market need for the service, Unbabel CEO Vasco Pedro said in a Q&A published to the company’s website late Thursday: “A lot of businesses are constrained to the market where they are founded and maybe another that English gives them. So they go to new regions more slowly.”

He added: “Part of that is [down to lack of] customer support, service. This usually requires a fairly big investment — hire a bunch of support agents (before you even know if you have the volume). You also start to see incoming questions about the product/service. There’s always this nagging feeling: if we did support it, would we generate enough volume? And in the meantime, you’re providing fundamentally bad customer service.”

“jê tênagehîjim“/”nuk kuptoj”

Unbable contacted some of the biggest companies’ customer service teams around the world in different languages: “It was incredible how many companies would reply in English. In some cases, they would fudge it in Google Translate, maybe even just translating the phrase: “I don’t understand what you’re asking.”

Two people communicating

Did you hear about Unababel’s new translation-as-a-service? Credit: Cristina Gottardi

Duo Collaborating Closely

The launch is just the latest collaboration between San Francisco-based translation company Unbabel and Microsoft. The two have been working with the Skype team on real-time translation engine training, participating in its scale-up accelerator in London and receiving funding from its venture capital arm, M12, in its recent Series B round.

Sona Vaish Venkat, General Manager, Intelligent SaaS at Microsoft said: “Given the continued growth of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Microsoft has been seeking out innovative partner solutions from around the world. Unbabel is an excellent example of a blended AI and gig-economy model that will help both our fastest growing and largest enterprise clients.”

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He added: “Removing language as a barrier to success is critical in this new connected global market, and we are excited to empower customer service agents to provide exceptional service in all languages, everywhere.”

The launch of the service for Dynamics 365 comes as Microsoft also recently demonstrated some impressive real-time translation capabilities at an event in London.

Speaking in late May in London, CEO Satya Nadella demonstrated the company’s new Presentation Translator, a PowerPoint add-in that provides real-time subtitles to presentations. It works in 60+ supported languages provided by Microsoft Translator.

To improve speech recognition and translation, the add-in extracts the content of your presentation to create a custom speech recognition model, using the content of both slides and notes to learn any jargon, technical terms, names of people and places, or acronyms used in a presentation so they can be correctly translated.

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