Scalability or Quality – Can We Have Both?

June 29, 2023

In the fast-paced global economy, companies are faced with  a constant challenge: how to strike the delicate balance between scalability and quality. As businesses strive to expand their global reach and cater to an increasingly diverse audience, they often find themselves caught between the need for rapid growth and the desire to deliver high-quality translations that resonate with their consumers.

On one hand, scaling up operations allows businesses to handle larger volumes of content, support multiple languages, and meet growing demands. On the other hand, sacrificing quality can lead to inaccurate translations, miscommunications, and a negative impact on brand reputation. However, many emerging technologies today offer solutions to enhance scalability, while ensuring impeccable translation quality.

Scalability vs Quality 

Scalability, at its core, addresses the need to handle increasing volumes of content and accommodate the growing demands of global audiences. Businesses strive for scalable solutions to translate large quantities of text efficiently and meet tight deadlines. Speed becomes a critical factor, as the ability to process and deliver translations quickly can give companies a competitive edge.

However, the pursuit of scalability can sometimes come at the expense of quality. When handling huge amounts of content, the risk of inaccuracies, contextual errors, or loss of nuance becomes more evident. Translations that lack precision or fail to capture the essence of the original text can damage a brand’s credibility and alienate customers. For example, before partnering with Unbabel, Physioswiss was struggling to deliver quick and accurate translations that adhered to its brand style and used the correct pharmaceutical terminology. 

A company looking to expand its operations into new regions may be tempted to prioritize scalability, relying on automated translation methods to handle the sheer volume of content. However, studies have shown that customers are more likely to engage and make purchases when presented with high-quality translations that resonate culturally and linguistically. 

In a study conducted by CSA Research, it was found that websites offering localized content with accurate and high-quality translations were 75% more effective at selling to international customers than those with lower-quality translations.

Common Scalability Solutions

Scalability is a crucial aspect of translation systems, and several methods can be employed to make these systems more scalable. Two common scalability solutions are:

1. Machine Translation

Utilizing machine translation technology allows businesses to translate large volumes of content quickly and efficiently. Machine translation systems leverage algorithms and artificial intelligence to automatically generate translations. This approach significantly speeds up the translation process and enables scalability.

For example, ClassPass collaborated with Unbabel to expand across 30 countries and offer subscribers support in 15 languages without having to open a customer service hub in each new market. By leveraging machine translation, Unbabel helped ClassPass translate thousands of inbound inquiries (chat and email) every month, ensuring that CSAT scores for translated tickets were comparable to tickets from English speakers. 

Machine translation as a standalone solution, though efficient for certain content types, may lack the nuanced understanding and context required for accurate translations. Human review is still essential to the process, though, to carefully post-edit and review machine-generated translations to ensure quality.

2. Automation

Automation plays a pivotal role in achieving scalability in translation workflows. By automating repetitive and manual tasks, businesses can streamline their processes, reduce turnaround time, and handle larger volumes of content.

Automation alone, however, can be limited by the complexity of certain content types and may require manual intervention for quality assurance.

Common Quality Solutions

Achieving high translation quality is paramount for businesses. Various methods can be employed to improve translation quality, including:

1. Human Editing

Integrating human editing into the translation process helps refine machine-generated translations. Human editors possess linguistic expertise and cultural understanding, enabling them to fine-tune translations for accuracy, clarity, and cultural appropriateness. Their involvement ensures a higher level of quality and nuanced adaptation of content.

For example, by using Unbabel’s AI-driven machine translation and human editors, Catawiki agents were able to save an average of 20 minutes per ticket, whereas CSAT scores averaged 88%.

On the downside, the involvement of human editors alone can introduce additional costs and increase turnaround time, impacting scalability.

2. Multiple Review Rounds

Implementing multiple review rounds involves subjecting translations to multiple layers of review by different linguists. Each reviewer brings a fresh perspective and can catch errors, inconsistencies, or cultural misinterpretations. This iterative process enhances the quality of translations through collaborative refinement.

However, the subjective nature of linguistic reviews and multiple iterations may introduce potential delays and complexities in the translation workflow.

The Unbabel Solution

Unbabel effectively addresses the challenges of scalability and accuracy in translation by combining quality control tools with automation tools, machine learning, and language libraries.

Unbabel leverages a hybrid approach that combines the power of human expertise with automation. It employs a community of professional human translators who refine and post-edit machine-generated translations, ensuring accuracy, fluency, and cultural sensitivity.

Automation plays a crucial role in Unbabel’s workflow, enabling efficient handling of high volumes of content. Machine learning algorithms continuously improve translation quality by learning from human edits and refining the translation process over time.

Unbabel also maintains extensive language libraries, which act as linguistic resources for translators, ensuring consistent and contextually appropriate translations across different content types and domains.

Produce Scalable, Accurate Translations with Unbabel

Unbabel’s approach to improving scalability and assessing translation quality effectively addresses the challenges businesses face. By blending the strengths of human editing, automation, machine learning, quality estimation technologies, and comprehensive language resources, Unbabel delivers scalable and accurate translations that meet the demands of global businesses.

Unbabel allows organizations to unlock the benefits of scalable translation without compromising on quality. The integration of human expertise ensures linguistic nuance, cultural sensitivity, and accuracy, while automation and machine learning drive efficiency and scalability. With improved scalability, accurate translations, and reduced time-to-market, companies can confidently expand their global reach, engage diverse audiences, and enhance customer satisfaction.

In an ever-evolving global landscape, where speed and quality are paramount, Unbabel’s innovative approach proves that scalability and quality can indeed go hand in hand, ensuring businesses can meet their translation needs effectively and drive success in a globalized world.

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Content Team

Unbabel’s Content Team is responsible for showcasing Unbabel’s continuous growth and incredible pool of in-house experts. It delivers Unbabel’s unique brand across channels and produces accessible, compelling content on translation, localization, language, tech, CS, marketing, and more.