December 28, 2000, 2:09 PM —
THIS SUMMER, A partnership between Lotus Development and Transparent Language will give corporate users of Lotus Notes and Lotus' SameTime instant messaging technology the ability to translate e-mails and instant messages into five European languages on the fly.
Transparent Language will offer the Lotus Domino Server component in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Chinese and Japanese components are currently in the works. Corning Cable Systems is currently testing the capability and will most likely be the first company to roll it out to its 14,000 employees this August.
Lotus originally announced a translation component that connects the Domino server to leading translation servers, and subsequently named deals with five companies late last month. The companies included were Alis Technologies, Transparent Language, Lernout & Hauspie, WorldPoint Interactive, and Sentius. Also, IBM has had plans to utilize the functionality in its Websphere Web commerce platform.
While machine translation technology will allow a reader to get the gist of a message rather than a complete and accurate translation of the text, the benefits of any program that can help employees in a global organization communicate are obvious, according to Steve Kelly, manager of IS at Corning Cable Systems, formerly Siecor, in Hickory, N.C.
"We are just now installing the product and doing demonstrations. We are hoping the product will help us translate documents from English to German and help speed up the process," Kelly said.
However, according to one industry analyst, machine translations of e-mails and instant messages is even more problematic than translating more formal documents.
"People tend to use colloquial language in e-mails and it's even worse with instant messages. The key word in this is 'gist.' As long as you set your expectations at the level where you know it is only giving you an idea of what the message is about, it should speed communications," said Steve McClure, a research vice president at IDC in Framingham, Mass.
McClure added that Transparent Language does a pretty good job of translating colloquial language.
The Lotus Translation Component in conjunction with the translation engine will allow Lotus e-mail and instant messaging (IM) users to click on a single button for an instant translation. The IM component will also allow Notes users of SameTime to communicate with America Online's instant messaging plug-in.