Collaborative robots (aka cobots) are usually defined as physical robots interacting with human workers in complex product supply chains. But it’s not unreasonable to consider language technology solutions as cobots for globalization purposes. Their role has been elevated to accelerate digital workflows and integrated to automate selected tasks in an intelligent fashion. Language technology has become a “colleague robot.” It’s positioned as a partner in global business transpired frequently during several international events this year including a number of presentations delivered during the latest LT (Language Technology) Innovate forum in Brussels. During that conference, passionate speakers from companies of all sizes innovating in the language technology industry as well as users of solutions in that field were eager to share experiences and thoughts on how their efforts were driving major globalization and localization enhancements. Here are three concrete facts and trends pushing international business leaders and practitioners to incorporate relevant language technology in their work processes, places, and plans regardless of industries and disciplines.

Digital globalization relies on language technology to deliver digital transformation cost and time effectively. In globalizing organizations language technology supports functional and cultural changes that are critical in any digital transformation roadmap. The digitization of content in existing products and services comes in addition to the management of digitally native content that is produced at scale. Altogether, it demands more dedication and bandwidth to capture, analyze, convert, and value incremental amounts of content in multiple languages and for multiple markets. 

From a technical perspective, language technology has come a long way since the time it was mostly about checking spelling, (de-)compiling strings of text and displaying online dictionaries. As it is now powered by AI, language technology mimics the human ability to understand, reason and learn from cross-media content as well as to make customer-centric and data-driven decisions accordingly. 

Among other things, language technology enables content stakeholders to optimize text-to-speech and speech-to-text processes in a variety of languages and faster than ever before. It proves that safe speech recognition and text mining are best practices and assets for international business. It also turns language data into actionable insights and predictive metrics. Equally important is the role that language technology plays in changing mindsets for digital effectiveness. 

Transforming ways of being and doing is the starting point and backbone of most digital transformation journeys. Language technology solutions like machine translation or voice recognition are instrumental in moving away from low-level and highly repetitive tasks and fostering increased productivity and accessibility throughout international content life cycles. As a result global organizations can develop a vision that is truly customer centric, agile and world ready. As it is implemented internally language technology helps build content teams and allocate resources by combining human and machine intelligence. All benefits of language technology underly the organizational transformation sustaining digital transformation. 

Digital globalization relies on language technology to win and grow with intelligent automation. In the digital age, business is still based on B2H (Business to Human) and even H2H (Human to Human) models. In other words, digital products and services are still sold to human customers, whether they buy them on a platform, order them in an application or pick them at a local store. The human factor makes it mandatory to keep the voice of customers at the center of all globalization and localization steps and therefore to stick to the value chain reflecting their experiences. So speaking the language of customers in an imperative and is neither an option nor an afterthought. 

Language technology does not only address all language facets that create human convenience for them. It also meets cultural and functional requirements making the right language work and shine contextually. For example, chatbots are considered more frequently as social robots that should talk to customers naturally. This means going beyond pre-defined and standardized questions and answers by analyzing and speaking the natural language that customers use instinctively where and when they want it. It is the most direct way to augment communications and enrich experiences. 

Another example is the growing importance of conversational capabilities and emotional intelligence in e-commerce, especially in regions like Europe and Asia. Language technology empowers content owners to generate natural language personalizing and humanizing surveys, assistance, memos, meetings and calls while making content easily searchable and actionable with limited or no supervision. Language technology shapes international multisensory experiences by embracing variances in textual (words and sentences), voice (tones and accents), and visual (pictures and graphics) components that speak to the hearts and minds of local customers.

Digital globalization relies on language technology to align, engage, and collaborate across functions and disciplines. In today’s business, virtually everyone is a language technology stakeholder, including leaders in marketing, legal, product management, operations, communications, and IT. Language technology in the digital age makes teams such as localization, user experience, and IT work closely — even if they are remote and virtual. Rather than splitting the ownership of language leadership within an organization language technology federates expertise and unifies practices to meet various needs, specifically effectiveness trade- offs between volumes, speed, and cost when necessary. 

As such, language technology becomes the framework enabling content tasks, empowering content contributors, sharing (best) practices and maintaining communication. It also implies the need to revisit current roles and creating new ones which are tied to international content operations and strategies. For instance, linguists, copywriters, and terminologists who might feel at risk are often lifted up when they work efficiently with their language technology cobots. Similarly project managers find new ways of connecting and evaluating globalization and localization activities in light of customer experience pain or gain. 

The main challenge that lies in creating a blend of current roles and new responsibilities is to make it unique for the business and customers. As some expectations and objectives may vary according industries and markets the level of alignment and collaboration must be adapted to ensure that language technology keeps adding value.