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Introducing translation-as-a-service

by Scott Bicheno on 8 April 2010, 15:36

Tags: General Business

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Outsourcing to the crowd

Anyone who has used Google Translate to read a web page written in a foreign language will be aware of its limitations. While it's free and almost instantaneous, there's only so much translating a piece of software can do; colloquialisms and unique turns of phrase usually get lost in translation.

Until recently, the alternative if you need a professional job done on a website, document or email was to employ a localisation company, which could take weeks to turn the project around.

It was the desire for a ‘best of both worlds' scenario that led Sanford Cohen to form SpeakLike a couple of years ago. "In my previous job I was working with partners in other countries but it was hard to get things done due to the language barrier," he told "I wanted to be able to send an email and have it translated."

Yesterday he launched SpeakLike Strings, which is described as ‘translation-as-a-service'. Just like the better-known SaaS model, it's web-based and promises a quick, accurate turnaround of material to be translated. This is due to its ‘crowdsourcing model' in which a bunch of remote-working translators are on hand to fulfil a piece of work at any given moment. "If detail is important, you need humans involved," said Cohen.

Agreements with customers are priced according to how quickly they want the translation work turned-around, with options ranging from 24 hours to just one hour. You can even use SpeakLike for instant messaging conversations with, Cohen assured us, minimal delay.

With China and India especially likely to be countries we will all need to do business with on a regular basis, the market for quick, accurate translation services is likely to grow. There are already plenty out there, of course, but SpeakLike is hoping it has struck the right balance between speed, reliability and affordability.


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