“They said it couldn’t be done… that there was no way to get a software platform to translate from one language to many others on the fly, but the technology team at 20|20 has done it. They’ve cracked the code and have added an amazing new feature to our QualBoard platform.”
This was the opening line to a now infamous “April Fools” email sent out by 20|20 on April 1, 2010. At that time, we thought the idea of instant translation so far-fetched that no one would really take it seriously. That was then…this is now.
Today, 20|20 announced its newest innovation in online qual research, QualTranslate. What does it do? It translates QualBoard posts from one language to another “on the fly.” Today’s announcement echoes the joke from 2010, “the technology team at 20|20 has done it. They’ve cracked the code and have added an amazing new feature to our QualBoard platform.” Now, its true. For us, the irony is stunning. This is truly a Back to the Future moment.
So, what is the breakthrough? QualTranslate uses a sophisticated language algorithm to translate one language into another within 60 seconds of it being posted to QualBoard. In the asynchronous QualBoard environment, this is virtually instantaneous. This machine translation will be hugely helpful for clients or project managers interfacing with multi-national, multi-language projects. Now, from anywhere in the world, they can keep up follow the discussion in real time waiting for the post-project translation to be completed.
The virtually instant translation was a breakthrough, but the 20|20 team did not stop there. They realized that machine translation is great for following a discussion, but is not best for analyzing it. So, they added an on-the-fly native-speaker translation capability as well. When this feature is activated, each post is sent directly to a native speaker for translation. When completed, that speaker sends the translation back to QualBoard. The system immediately inserts the translation into QualBoard for viewers. The entire process usually happens within 3-6 hours of the original post. On a multi-day QualBoard, a viewer is never too far behind the discussion to draw insights and make course corrections. Also, no more waiting days or weeks for translated transcripts. The entire transcript will be translated within a few hours of the final post.
Speed is crucial in today’s business environment. Waiting for transcript translations often slows down multi-national projects by weeks. No more. Also, project directors often cannot monitor research in many countries because they cannot simply follow the discussion. When things go wrong, no one knows often until the project is over and its too late. That problem is now solved.
We are constantly amazed at how fast technology advances. What seemed impossible just three years ago, is reality today. I could not be more proud of the 20|20 Tech team.