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Automatic Translation: Breaking Down Language Barriers in Technical Support

Christian Hauschild, head of Processes, Projects, and Learning for SAP’s support organization, explains how access to machine-translated content creates a Product Support experience that is more intuitive and productive for SAP customers worldwide.

Q: Why is SAP offering automatic translation of Product Support content, and who can use it?

A: Supporting organizations in more than 180 countries, SAP values the opportunity to reach customers with Product Support interactions that are simple and convenient. Yet, we also serve a dynamic variety of software deployment and consumption models, including private cloud, public cloud, on-premise environments, and a hybrid of these options.

Despite this mix of IT landscapes, our customers want answers and solutions to their questions and issues when contacting the SAP support organization. The faster and more productively we deliver on that expectation, the easier and better the overall customer experience is. And one way to achieve this goal is to break down the language barrier for our live-support channels, knowledge self-services, and Product Support ticketing.

With real-time translation, language skills are no longer a prerequisite to benefit from SAP support. The best subject-matter experts on the customer side are interacting with us, regardless of their English-speaking skills. Best of all, they can consume the latest information in their chosen or native language on demand – instead of waiting for manual translation cycles that can take weeks.

Automatic machine translation of Product Support content is powered by SAP Translation Hub. The feature is accessible to SAP partners and customers with an active maintenance or subscription contract at no additional cost and within our support channels.

What are the benefits of using machine learning technology to support automatic translation? 

Imagine the time and effort needed to manually translate and manage an up-to-date knowledge repository containing millions of artifacts – such as SAP Notes and SAP Knowledge Base Articles – into several languages. With automatic machine translation, customers can translate static artifacts in real time.

Now, what if recent advancements in neural machine translation technology are used? From our perspective, it enables us to go one step further – from static artifacts to dynamic content, such as entire sentences and phrases – while chatting with our customers live. This represents a tremendous opportunity for our customers and partners to improve their contextual understanding in a live conversation with an SAP support expert.

As a bidirectional, personalized service, automatic translation makes engaging with Product Support easier by helping customers consume the content fully. This service brings significant business value and benefits to non-English-speaking customers. The need to create support tickets is reduced and no translation effort is required. But most important, the reach of our product content to help customers extends, especially in Germany, China, Russia, Japan, and Latin America, resolution time shortens, and user satisfaction increases.

Simply put, automatic translation is a clear win-win situation for our customers, partners, and SAP.

Which use cases does the automatic translation feature support today? 

Currently, the automatic translation feature supports Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish for SAP Notes and SAP Knowledge Base Articles. But we’re not stopping at supporting static Product Support content as mentioned earlier; we’re also extending the feature to our live support channels.

In the Expert Chat service, users can choose to have the entire conversation with the SAP expert translated between English and their selected language.* Turning off machine translation is as easy as typing “translation off” in the text area of the session. To turn it on again, users only need to type “translation on” in the same free-text field. Then, when the Expert Chat session ends, a transcript of the chat – in both the original language and the translation – is automatically saved to an incident for future use.

Additionally, the last reply about an incident from SAP support is also translated. This allows customers and partners around the globe to learn from the incident resolution provided by SAP in their native language.**

Even the support log assistant tool benefits from the machine translation feature to give customers and partners the option to view the analysis report against uploaded logs or configuration files in their preferred language.***

To date, the automatic translation of SAP Notes and SAP Knowledge Base Articles was accessed more than 600,000 times during the first half of 2021. And the use of the last incident reply from an SAP support expert was used more than 60,000 times in the same time period.

What’s next for the automatic translation feature at SAP?

All of us from the SAP support organization are committed to enabling our experts, customers, and partners to create solutions that fuel innovation, foster equality, and spread opportunity across borders and cultures. And the automatic translation of Product Support content is a crucial part of that mission – providing support anytime, anywhere, from any channel, and in more languages than ever before.


Theresa Ritzheim is an integrated communications manager for Customer Solution Support and Innovation at SAP.

*The automatic translation feature of the Expert Chat service supports Brazilian Portuguese, English, German, Japanese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish.
**Support incidents can be translated into Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish.
***The support log assistant tool supports Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish with the help of machine translation technology.