This is a terrific conversation about a SaaS-enabled BPO company, Lilt, in the domain of language translation.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start introducing our audience to yourself as well as Lilt.
Spence Green: I am the CEO of Lilt. We have two parts of our business. The private sector of our business focuses on creating global customer experiences so that all products and services are available in all languages. We work with enterprises that want to make the user experience in other languages better. Usually, it is as good and personalized as it is in English.
We have a public sector business that also works with language. We make it possible for governments to augment the language capabilities that they have primarily for defense and intelligence reasons. These are unified by a common technology that we have built over the past 10 years. This is all done under the mission of making the world’s information available irrespective of where you were born or what language you speak.
Sramana Mitra: Is this based on the research that you did with your Ph.D. at Stanford?
Spence Green: It is. My co-founder, John, and I met while working on Google Translate. Google Translate had an enormous impact on consumers. It’s integrated with the browser, email, and phones. We don’t stumble to other countries with a phrasebook. Now, we have a phone that can help us translate signs and speak in many cases.
We noticed that this technology hadn’t had the same impact on organizations that create and publish most of the world’s information. The research started as a building system that not only had the efficiency and scalability of a machine translation system but also gave you a quality guarantee. Organizations need to know if the translations are correct.
Sramana Mitra: Double-click down on use cases in corporate settings where you are intervening and providing localization through your automated technology. What kinds of use cases are you dealing with?
Spence Green: It’s all in the digital assets. It is primarily on the written. You can call them static. Static in the sense that they are documents and strings for mobile apps versus customer support conversations or more ephemeral texts like chat. These materials are websites, sales and marketing collateral, software products, support pages, and anything that is written that ends up on the internet in some kind of digital platform. We give the companies the technology to make that available to as many languages as they want.
Sramana Mitra: If you are given a website that is written in English, you can automatically turn it into as many languages as possible as the client desires?
Spence Green: Yes, and we guarantee quality. The way that we do that is through a human-in-the-loop process. It’s a human-machine team. This gives you more scalability and efficiency at a considerably lower cost than the traditional solution which is just to hire people. This is both slow and expensive.