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New Platform Makes Telephone Interpreting Possible for Every LSP
Posted by Nataly Kelly on August 10, 2010  in the following blogs: Business Globalization, Best Practices, Interpreting, Technology
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"Any language. Anytime. Anywhere." It could be a tagline plucked directly from the website of nearly any of the 23,380 translation and interpreting agencies in our directory. We've often scoffed at such claims, knowing full well that no language service provider (LSP) on earth has a vendor database robust enough to deliver on such promises. Just try to find an Arem<>Tanana interpreter, and you'll see what we mean. However, a new technology platform being developed in the United Kingdom may make it easier to connect to interpreters based on numerous criteria, including less common language pairs.

Common Sense Advisory spoke with the co-founders of Interpreters-on-Call, David Martin and Marcus Strallen, to learn more. –“Our platform is completely vendor-neutral, making it possible for small- and medium-sized interpreting suppliers to easily connect and begin offering telephone interpreting services,– explains Martin. Using a globally available software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, the company– vision is to give language service providers (LSPs) the ability to manage telephone interpreting services easily through its portal, which connects interpreters with vendors and clients. Clients are then charged a set price per minute on the call activity that passes through the portal.

Just five months into the business, the U.K.-based firm has already signed up multiple LSPs in its local market, and today announced a partnership with U.S.-based provider Telelanguage, which will boost the number of interpreters in the portal to more than 3,500. Telelanguage will also bring 187 different languages to the table. In any highly fragmented market, technology is often a great consolidator. In the case of telephone interpreting, the high barriers to entry – namely investment in telephony infrastructure – have proven to be strong deterrents for would-be telephone interpreting competitors. In other words, a platform like this comes just in time for many on-site interpreting agencies that have struggled to understand how they can offer telephone interpreting services to their customers. Now, such firms may actually have a viable solution that does not involve re-selling the services of a competitor.

However, as Interpreters-on-Call continues to add more interpreting suppliers to its platform, the community it builds may prove to be one of its most valuable assets. Individuals searching for a "freelance translator" are spoiled for choice. Just visit ProZ.com, and you can search a database using carefully selected criteria to find the vendor that has the latest translation software certification or happens to have a specialization in a given domain, all built around written translation. Interpreters, on the other hand, are not so lucky. While platforms such as ProZ also enable interpreters to connect, there is no true community designed specifically for interpreters, and certainly no other portal that allows a customer to get the interpreter on the line immediately. In this sense, Interpreters-on-Call could address a major void for the labor market.

With the advent of transactional translation, the movement toward computer-assisted and machine interpretation, and the proliferation of hybrid offerings that require language talent for both spoken and written language conversion to be available instantly and on-demand (whether it be via phone, video, or web chat), a portal that enables vendors of all sizes to quickly make their own interpreters available to customers via telephone is a refreshing development for the language services industry – and one that certainly stands to help the telephone interpreting sector continue to evolve.


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Keywords: Interpreting, Interpreting technologies, Remote interpreting technologies, Telephone interpreting

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