This post will discuss the rise of ChatGPT, the overall buzz surrounding it, and the impact it has on businesses and individuals.
During the last two months, there has been a lot of discussion about the ChatGPT chatbot and its impact on the business world in general, as well as on language service providers and their businesses in particular. There seems to be a lot of confusion about, since the majority of questions are related to “surviving” and plans for “staying afloat” in the age of this “new game-changing and disruptive technology”. All these questions hark back to the time – more than 10 years ago now – when Google Translate became very popular and when people outside of the language services sector wondered and asked about our business model “in the age of Google Translate”. All of the concerns and the many apocalyptic visions and assumptions circulating at that time proved to be wrong. Most language service providers (at least those who embraced change) not only thrived, but also grew significantly. The language services industry as a whole also grew significantly during the last 10+ years.
Tech and the Language Services Industry
There is a lot of hype and misinformation surrounding AI in general and in particular surrounding AI-powered chatbots, which are related to their technical capabilities and functionalities and their business applicability and sustainability, especially in the context of enterprise business (B2B). That’s why the concerns related to the language services business in “the age of AI-powered chatbots” are in large part unfounded. The thing is that the language services industry is one of the first industries in the world that has been exposed to digital transformation and transformative trends. It started some 30 years ago with the rise of CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation)/ TMS (Translation Management Systems) tools and the language-related digital assets (e.g. translation memories, terminology lists, glossaries, etc.) that were generated as a result. Since then, this technology has evolved into a mature, enterprise-accepted technology with a lot of competitive solutions in the space. Combined with powerful TMBS (Translation Business Management Systems) they’ve become easy to integrate into clients’ systems and lives. However, considering that the language services industry is very fragmented, and consequently very complex, there is no “one size fits all” solution; one consultancy firm has even developed a technology atlas to enable buyers of these services and solutions to easily navigate the space. After the beginning of the CAT/TMS phenomenon, Google Translate in its first form appeared, powered by a statistical algorithm. It was sometimes funny, but functional and widely accepted. Although it enabled the rising popularity of MT (Machine Translation) solutions for a wider audience, it still wasn’t a mature and enterprise-ready technology. The moment that changed was in late 2016, with the launch of the NMT (Neural Machine Translation) algorithm, and it revolutionized everything. Since then, the translation and localization industry has faced increasing pressure to adopt quickly and incorporate different enterprise-ready NMT solutions into workflows to offer competitive solutions that would benefit their clients, as well as to develop these solutions further. The new technology helped the industry grow and opened up new opportunities for those who embraced the change.
The Impact of AI – Changing Creative Industries Forever
What we’re witnessing right now is probably a similar phenomenon, just in different industries. This time, AI-powered chatbots will probably affect those working in creative industries more, such as copywriters, journalists, etc. Those who embrace the new technology will remain on the market since the technology itself is here to stay. And what they can learn from the translation and localization industry as an example is that in the long run, generative AI will probably be just another tool. Of course, a tool that will change their and our lives, and improve efficiency and productivity, but also a tool with small or no added value without good interaction with humans and their expertise.
Over the years, we’ve learnt that the basic thing clients need to understand is the value (in our case of localization), potential ROI, and why localization is an investment, not an expense. And this represents the basis of all of our conversations with clients. In that context, it is necessary to continually educate clients about possibilities, whether they relate to tech or human expertise, since the complexity of services and solutions is constantly growing. Another thing that I’ve learned along the way is that even though there is no unambiguous value, from the technical point of view, the benefits can be classified into 3 categories:
- Consistency-related benefits (Quality)
- Turnaround-related benefits (Speed)
- Pricing-related benefits (Price)
Requirements are never uniform and depend on clients’ preferences, but prerequisites are. And the most important prerequisite (along with expertise) is data. As Clive Humby said back in 2006, ‘Data is the new oil. Like oil, data is valuable, but if unrefined it cannot be used.’ So, pay attention to your data and treat it as an asset – a digital asset. Improve your data management processes, and structure and appropriately scale them so that they can be used by different algorithms and integrations. This approach (along with our company values), represents the basis of our thriving and successful business model, and we hope that this can offer some insight and inspiration into how to navigate these turbulent times, both for businesses and for individuals.