Interpreting Technology: How Providers Are Joining Forces to Develop the Market
In October 2017, the heads of six interpreting delivery platforms (IDPs) met on the sidelines of the 6th InterpretAmerica Summit in Washington, D.C. They were determined to address a bottleneck in the development of the IDP market that had been identified over a year earlier in a CSA Research report on the subject – that is, applications designed to support the delivery of spoken-word language services were experiencing vibrant innovation but suffered from a mismatch between product solutions and actual market demand.
The six companies took this analysis to heart and, with guidance from InterpretAmerica co-president Barry Slaughter Olsen, developed a novel approach to bridging the gap between the solutions offered and the nascent market demand. The result of this collaboration is the Interpreting Technologies Alliance (ITA), a new industry initiative that is being unveiled today at the 10th GALA annual conference in Boston by its six founding members: Boostlingo, Cadence Translate, Headvox, KUDO, VoiceBoxer, and ZipDX.
Source: Interpreting Technologies Alliance
The goal of the ITA is to raise the visibility and credibility of emerging solutions such as remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) and amplify the presence of interpreting technology in the business community. Jonathan Rechtman, co-founder of Cadence Translate and interim director and secretary of the alliance, commented: “We want to engage the demand side, and specifically the private sector. We want to grow the market intelligently, rather than fighting desperately with each other over the same limited demand.”
The six companies agreed to set aside some of the micro differences between their products and interests and instead focus on the common good of pooling resources to develop new market segments. Their main activities will be to jointly engage the private sector and showcase interpreting use cases at industry events and through trade and social media. They also plan a series of joint campaigns to standardize terminology, increase professionalism, educate the market, and raise the capacity of language professionals to meet the needs of the private sector.
The ITA’s market development efforts will not be focused on the traditional buyers of interpreting (international institutions, public sector, government, health care, courts). Instead, the Alliance will target the private sector, especially emerging sources of demand such as the asset management, technology, and global transportation industries. Their strategy is to re-frame the conversation away from the traditional selling points – namely linguistic diversity and cross-cultural communication – and instead lead the conversation with business-centric value propositions and a focus on maximizing return on investment (ROI).
The Alliance partners are committed to pre-competitive market cultivation, with a mechanism for sharing sales leads derived from their efforts. Starting in October 2018, the ITA plans to open membership to a variety of supply- and demand-side participants from across the spectrum of interpreting technology and service, eventually welcoming developers of interpreting management systems (IMS), over-the-phone and video interpreting (OPI and VRI), and even machine interpreting (MI) technology.
This announcement presents great news for the industry. Instead of sulking in their corners about the challenges of selling their wares, a group of companies instead joined forces to achieve a goal that is bigger than the sum of their parts. While it’s too soon to say whether they will succeed in making a difference, their decision to collaborate is noteworthy in an industry long characterized – and limited – by solo activity. They realized that continuing with the status quo was not a viable long-term solution as buyers tend to know much less about interpreting services than translation offerings.
Note that CSA Research constantly monitors the state of the interpreting market. Providers of interpreting services and/or technology, if you haven’t yet completed our annual market study, please take the time to do so. This helps us provide accurate market sizing numbers for the interpreting market segments, something that investors looking into this sector regularly ask us about.
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