SME consultation on eTranslation & Language Technologies: Which language technologies do small and medium-sized enterprises really need?


Since March 2020, European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can now also benefit from the European Commission’s machine translation (MT) system eTranslation. Before making this big and important step, the European Commission conducted a consultation to better understand their needs, interests and potential use cases in the field of Language Technology (LT).

As a result, more than 2800 SMEs participated in the consultation which ran from December 2019 to March 2020. Most interestingly, 92% of the respondents were interested in using a free and secure MT system that is provided by the EU. In addition to the consultation, 635 SMEs from various sectors and countries were invited to a pilot testing of eTranslation. As a result, more than 80% of the pilot testers found eTranslation useful and 50% of the pilot testers expect to use the service every day or every week.



But what are the actual translation needs of European SMEs?

The top three languages required by SMEs are English, German and French, followed by Spanish and Russian, among others. When it comes to potential use cases, 80% of the participants stated that automated translation can help them understand websites or social media and more than 70% see it as a useful tool for gathering information. The decision for or against a particular service is driven by a number of factors including accuracy, ease of use, cost and speed. In addition to these factors, security, confidentiality and privacy are important for more than 75% of the SMEs. 

The results of this consultation provided the European Commission with valuable insights into the requirements of SMEs, which will be useful to fine-tune the offer of the CEF Automated Translation Building Block. The detailed report is available here:

Besides the opening for SMEs, there was another important milestone for eTranslation recently: in addition to the introduction of Russian translation engines late 2019, the machine translation service is now also offering translation from and to Chinese. As a result, eTranslation enables public administrations, SMEs and universities to communicate and exchange information seamlessly from and to all 24 official EU languages plus Icelandic, Norwegian, Russian and Chinese.