LocWorld Talks: Welocalize and Intuit Silver Linings Playbook

Tuyen Ho and Render Chiu at LocWorld 2013No Bradley or Jennifer, Just a Great MT Story by Tuyen Ho

At this year’s Localization World in Silicon Valley, Tuyen Ho, Senior Director at Welocalize and Render Chiu, Group Manager for Global Content & Localization at Intuit delivered a joint presentation. Their presentation “Silver Linings Playbook: Intuit’s MT Journey” drew crowds. Maybe it was the hope that Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence might be assisting with the PowerPoint?

Actually, attendees were drawn to this session because of the powerful story that Tuyen and Render told of how a company can go from zero to MT readiness across 10 languages in three months. Tuyen shared key highlights from her LocWorld presentation. View the presentation here.

Welocalize’s client, Intuit, is a global software company with annual revenues exceeding $4 billion from their widely known marquee products like QuickBooks, TurboTax and Quicken. The company goal is to become THE global small business operating system. To grasp this huge global opportunity, compare the number of small businesses in the US versus rest-of-world (ROW):  $29M (US) to $600M (ROW). That’s why translation and localization are critical to Intuit’s growth strategy.

The challenge was how to go from supporting one non-English language (Canadian French) to 10 additional languages as fast as possible. Consider the starting point in mid-2012:  codebase not yet internationalized, limited language assets to jump-start the MT engine training, and a small localization program team.

Render, my co-presenter, knew he needed a silver lining to position Intuit for globalization readiness. Machine Translation (MT) became a natural consideration because the approach addresses scale, cost and time to market. Because quality could not be compromised, enabling post-editing to MT output was also critical. So, where to begin?

The first and enduring silver lining was actually Intuit content itself. Although Intuit did not have glossaries or other bi-lingual language assets, Intuit content was structured beautifully. Intuit English-source content was authored using Simplified Technical English (STE), which resulted in a higher level of consistency, precision and clarity in terminology and sentence structure. MT engines love this. And, because of the quality of the source content, Welocalize was able to train the MT engines with very little training data, which saved both money and time to translate.

Next, the team leveraged open-source TMS GlobalSight, which offers built-in MT engine connectors, enabling Intuit to proceed with the project, while integration efforts were done in parallel behind the scenes instead of being in the critical path.

So where is Intuit in its MT journey today? The milestone that we have reached is the deployment of an MT program (technology + people) that is ready to handle a broad range of content type across Intuit products, including website and Help content for 10+ languages.  The journey continues on to considering content beyond text, for example, video content.  There will certainly be challenges ahead, but with the team collaboration, early successes and lessons learned, Intuit will enjoy more silver linings ahead.

You can view the full slide presentation “Silver Linings Playbook: Intuit’s MT Journey” at

You can read more insights from LocLeaders Forum Silicon Valley and Localization World 2013 by visiting

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