Systran builds VAR channel for software

Multilingual software veteran Systran is on the hunt for channel partners to bring its translation packages to the Asia-Pacific market.

The vendor is actively recruiting system integrators and VARs who work with businesses venturing into online export markets. It has also entered into discussions with Macquarie University and K-12 schools and is keen to make inroads into the educational sector.

Systran's Australian operation will be entirely channel-based, with application training and marketing tools being offered to its selected partners. Having already appointed 123Easy Soft to distribute its personal user and home office packages to the retail market over the next two weeks, it hopes to build its VAR channel just as swiftly.

Access managing director Earl White believes the opportunities for system integrators go beyond just another value add they can take to customers. "As a productivity tool, the software appeals across the board - from SMEs to corporate customers," he said. "In an increasingly transnational environment, it offers a new way for customers to do business using IT, and that's not an opportunity that comes along every day."

According to White, one of the primary hurdles for Systran is raising reseller awareness to an affordable HTML, e-mail and text translation package that works to a level of accuracy. "Mechanical Translation (MT) has moved from a curiosity to a need. People recognise that to sell their product they've got to get into the other guy's language," he said.

Systran software allows the user to convert documents from English into nine different languages: German, Portugese, Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Russian, and is in the process of adding Serbian, Croatian and Middle Eastern languages. "Language pairs" are also available to translate from German to French or vice versa.

Aston Fallen, vice president of software publishing at Systran, adds that this shift towards the multilingual space has been accelerated by the presence of the Internet in business. "There is a high level of interest and requirement for this kind of software in Australia. The population represents all nine languages that Systran offers - we have them so why not use them," he said.

Systran is realistic about the level of accuracy which may be achieved through mechanical translation despite having extensive dictionaries sitting behind its software. "Although we have established equivalents between phrases such as the English "It's raining cats and dogs" and the French "It's raining lengths of rope", some regionally specific colloquialisms simply won't translate," Fallen admitted. "However, lets say Ford has an instruction manual it needs translated into several different languages - you are probably looking at about 97-98 per cent accuracy because it contains simple, declarative language."

The vendor has its roots in the original development of mechanical translation undertaken by the US Government during the cold war. To this day, the company remains a US Government contractor and provides automatic translation tools for the European Union as well as Ford manufacturing, Nortel Networks, Fuji Xerox and General Motors. "Accuracy is only going to come through depth of experience," said Fallen, advocating Systran's 32-year longevity in the software sector. "Rather than building a low-end solution and growing it upwards, Systran is taking a high-end product and scaling it down."

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