Matteo Ippoliti, the Founder of Langpros, speaks about the importance of linguistics and translation services with Expo 2020 just around the corner
What’s shaping the IT industry in the region?
Technology is an integral part of the production process when it comes to translation. The revolution started about 20 years ago when human translators started using computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. So, it was a combination of machines and humans. In the last 10 years, we started with machine translation.
Machine translation is basically a type of technology that involves the machine to create translation from scratch, without human beings. Of course, the results are never 100% accurate. What we do now with machine translation, is that a human translator/editor revises the final product.
What will be the next big thing in technology in 2020?
At the moment researchers are focusing on finding ways to allow machines to deal and replicate human emotions but obviously there is still a long way to go. Even when it comes to translation and interpreting, machines are now better equipped to deal with culture references, phrases and idioms using complex statistical models and machine learning algorithms (such as in Neural Machine Translation). But figurative language, irony, sarcasm, poetry are still out of a machine’s capability as they cannot feel what humans feel when using the language.
How are you and your company gearing up to explore the opportunities in 2020?
As we all know, Expo 2020 will be held in Dubai this year and we are already living and breathing this great opportunity.
The theme of Expo 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” focusing on three sub-themes Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity. I believe that “Opportunity” is the key of development and like the theme of the Expo says itself, we decided to embrace this vision and invest both on our services progress and our company’s human resources so we can reach successful future aspirations and be prepared for this huge upcoming event both in the interpreting and translation field.
In order to take on new opportunities along the way during this crucial year, we decided to boost our productivity so we acquired new professionals and specialized linguists that will do their utmost to show our professionalism also during this outstanding occasion. In the meantime, we decided to look for more opportunities offered by the AI that could help us focusing on the optimization of all our company processes and reaching our main goal of guaranteeing the best service possible both in terms of quality and speed.
Therefore, we launched a branded portal where our clients will have the chance to upload texts or documents, request content creation and transcription services directly on this innovative platform. Prices will be calculated automatically, a super-intuitive way to process and deliver our language services with an even faster turnaround. An online dashboard will guide clients through the process so they can monitor the progress of their projects and save precious time.
While we focus on ensuring our quality service, the whole translation process is going to be much smoother and our clients will get instant quotes, interactive services and solutions for all their translation requirements. We know that this year will put Dubai under reflectors, bringing millions of people from over 152 countries. The expected 25 million visitors will not only be a showcase of participants’ innovations but will also give us the chance to show what we are capable of with our usual and brand-new language services.
What sort of challenges do you foresee for 2020?
Translating languages is definitely a change that we foresee. From my perspective, as a linguist and translation company owner, the most challenging languages to translate are those spoken by a limited number of people, such as regional languages or “dialects” where there are only a few translators available. For instance aboriginal languages in Australia or certain tribal languages in Africa.
When it comes to Arabic, the situation is relatively complex. Although there are many varieties of Arabic (according to some, approximately 30, including Classical Arabic) due to the fact that it is spoken in several countries, the variety that is generally accepted as standard is the so called Modern Standard Arabic, which is the one used and mastered by most professional translators and interpreters.
Which markets will be your main targets for business and regional growth in the upcoming year?
I see a growing volume of translation projects done through the aid of machines and artificial intelligence but still combined with humans – this is if you’re talking about professional translation.
From all the business learnings of 2019, what would you like to do differently in the upcoming year?
2020 like each new year brings new learning and in the past year as a team we learned many new lessons like the great importance of commitment and to continue embracing new challenges every single day. A high level of enthusiasm in every organization not only brings increased profitability and productivity but important overall improvements in the work atmosphere.
Perseverance, hard work, and dedication don’t just show up in a short time and with our new resources, our main goal is to build a strong team in order for them to cooperate with the other team members in the most efficient and pleasant way. We learned the importance of strong and productive interaction through clear communication of our goals, vision, and mission to achieve the right determination to work and pursue excellence.
We would like to keep encouraging open and free communication as much as we did in the past year in order to meet our team expectations and build a culture of trust and good work relationships. Just by getting stronger at this aspect we can figure out every day our goals, priorities, and values a team. This result is important for our clients as well so they can be perfectly aware of the identity of the company and its specific and unique core values.
Another lesson from 2019 is to be always ready for new challenges. A vital factor for growth and success in every field. To this extent, we have been working hard over the last year for getting the resources, competences, and tools to be leaders in the market. Confidence in our means and our capacity to find a solution, outside the usual path is our key lesson for the new year.
No challenge is too big and at the same time, challenge everything are our mantras for the new decade. Questioning consolidated habits and processes, striving to think out of the box and aiming at continuous improvement is not an easy path to take but I firmly believe is the right one. Consolidated processes have helped us grow as a company, but thinking outside of the box and always trying to find more efficient ways to do things, even though the current system seems to be working, is the only way to stay on top.
What sort of technology trends can we look out for in 2020?
Talking about 2020’s new translation trends, Mandarin is predicted to reach greater importance in the translation industry and we will surely witness a rising demand for speech-to-speech translation. In this forecast, the technology trends for 2020 will be mainly related to voice search, video translation, and remote interpreting.
The recent success of digital assistants like Siri is changing the way we search for information online, in fact, traditionally we type the statement or question into a search box but now voice search method has spread rapidly in smartphones, computers and other devices. In May 2019 a new system called Translatotron has been announced on Google’s Al Blog and it will manage to translate speeches from one language into another.
Basically, we are rapidly going in this direction: voice search that will lead to speech-to-speech translations. I’m absolutely sure that images and videos will have their importance on new trends too. Video translation, subtitled short-form videos on YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and so on, will have a huge impact on these trends since videos are already representing most of the Internet traffic nowadays.
The 5G has started hitting the market and will continue to expand worldwide to serve billions of devices improving communication speed. So, we thought it was the right time to invest as a team in a new service that is also expected to grow in the new year: remote interpreting. The basic idea of remote interpreting is that interpreters from all over the globe can translate in real-time using an internet-connected device (computers, tablets, and smartphones) whenever and wherever needed.
This can be done for conferences and symposiums: the Simultaneous Remote Interpretation technology we offer allows to get a live human translation for the audience without having any interpreter at the venue. The conference is streamed to the interpreters (which can work from any location as far as they have a stable internet connection) and the translation goes back to the audience through traditional receivers (such as those used for guided tours) or through their mobile phones, with basically no delay.
This means we are able to use the best interpreters available on the global market (with no limitation) for any language without having to fly them to the event’s location. You can easily imagine how much easier and cost-effective this solution is. For smaller gatherings such as business meetings between two or three people, we also created Smartlangpros a platform giving 24/7 access to consecutive interpreters for any language combination.
Designed to work as an over the phone interpreting platform and a video remote one, Smartlangpros allows you to choose whether you want to book an interpreter to be available for your next meeting or opt for on-demand calls, being perfect in case of last-minute requests or even emergencies. With the on-demand service the interpreters, experienced and qualified to provide language support in specific industries, are automatically selected by the system based on their availability and specialization and will pick up the call (or video call) and help you out within 30 seconds.
All you need is our Smartlangpro app on your device (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) and an internet connection. Cloud technologies, global availability and smart devices will more and more create a combination of fastness and efficiency and I strongly believe that this kind of remote solution is going to be a big success in the near future.
Will emerging technologies prompt the sales channels reinvention in 2020?
Yes, definitely with artificial intelligence, the translations industry is certain to attract more business. translation industry AI and Machine Translation have become an active component of production workflows but it still always requires the use of human professionals such as linguists in the revision stage (so-called Post-Editors). The human component is still indispensable to eliminate mistakes, adjust meaning and style and optimize the result for a high-quality translation.
AI is also used in sales processes, vendor management as well as project management and automation which we look forward to exploring in 2020.
Is there a scope for innovation in the upcoming year? If yes, in which areas of application?
In terms of innovation, education is one sector where artificial intelligence can be further tapped into. When it comes to language learning, new apps and online platforms using AI can certainly help students learn new languages and there are many out there.