The majority of Consortium members operate in global, multi-lingual, multi-cultural environments. Both the markets for revenue growth and available talent and resources are in emerging markets where the language and culture are different from those of the home office. Many companies in the high tech sector have standardized on English as the language for business, even though they are based in non-English speaking countries, serve markets, and have employees in non-English speaking parts of the world. This presents some challenges when it comes to sharing knowledge on a global basis. As best we know, there is no easy answer. Cultural sensitivity and language translation are both difficult and expensive to maintain.
KCS as a methodology does not address cultural sensitivity but KCS does offer some relief in the area of multi-language support. If an organization adopts the content structure and style recommended in the KCS methodology of "complete thoughts, not complete sentences" then this creates the following benefits in a multi-language environment:
- Complete thoughts are often easier to comprehend than complete sentences
- The KCS structure gives meaning and context to the words and phrases in the article
The use of machine translation has increased dramatically over the past few years. It is not perfect but it is gaining acceptance as sufficient for support content. Following are some examples of how companies are leveraging machine translation:
- "Just do it" - Use machine translation for all support content in the knowledge base and translate it into selected languages. Intel uses machine translation to offer their support web site in five different languages
- "Demand driven" - Limited machine translation; only articles that have reuse get translated
- "The hybrid" - A hybrid approach of machine translation with a manual post edit for reused articles
- "Side by side" - Microsoft has found that offering the original article along side the machine translated article greatly increases user's confidence and therefore use of machine translated articles
For more information on machine translation visit the Translation Automation Users Society at www.taus.net.