LinguistNow Incident Add-In Announced at RightNow Summit 2011
Oracle is buying RightNow, the future of CX is fully automated and oh... there's a new language add-in coming for RightNow.
The pre-launch of LinguistNow RESPONSE at RightNow Summit 2011 had just a bit of competition. Our product, a RightNow add-in that automates human translation of help desk communications slated for release in December, was undoubtedly a hit. But it was amidst a good deal of commotion, beginning with the announcement that Oracle has entered into an agreement to acquire RightNow. The planned buy out is still subject to the customary closing conditions, but the deal is expected to close by late 2011 or early 2012.
As this announcement spreads across the ballroom at the Broadmoor Hotel, we're all feverishly tweeting and texting about what that means to us, the RightNow clients and partners gathered there. Then the lights go down. RightNow insists it's still business as usual and presents their vision - not just for the future of their CX/CRM product - but for the future of customer experience as a whole. Myself and the other thousand or so people listening to the keynote address sit spell-bound as we watched this future unfold via video dramatization.
It goes something like this. A handsome, late 30s-ish guy (with a strange mustache) wanders around a large city talking to automated brand agents via ubiquitous, futuristic devices. The voices and faces that engage him seem to know where he is and what he wants or needs at any given moment - regardless of whether it's an airline ticket, an oil change or his wife's anniversary gift. It's on some level scary, but it seemed to be working well for this particular customer.
It was in this environment that Language I/O together with ABLE Innovations promoted the imminent lauanch of LinguistNow RESPONSE at our booth in the nearby RightNow Partner Pavillion. Desipte the impressive goings-on around us, my colleague, Kaarina Kvaavik - CEO of ABLE Innovations - and I managed to stir up quite a bit of interest in the new product.
In contrast to the CX vision we had just witnessed, the feature that attracts users to our product is its enablement of low-tech, human translation. There's no question that a fully automated CX is compelling. But if there's one thing we learned from the hundreds of folks who came by our booth at the conference, 100% machine translation (also known as automated translation) has not yet arrived at a point where it's going to impress your clients.
We heard accounts from companies who had gone the route of machine translating their FAQ or help content only to find that instead of helping their clients, the lack of quality and accuracy just angered them. Company reps from a wide variety of industries were showing up at our booth because we automate the process of translating that FAQ content with expert, human linguists who are going to provide highly accurate translations. And companies were even more excited about the coming release in Q4, 2011 of LinguistNow RESPONSE. This add-in to the RightNow platform is going to allow their English-speaking help desk technicians to respond to emails in ANY language, again, through use of human linguists. I'm not saying that machine translation isn't going to be there some day. It's just not there yet for companies who need to impress their global clients with accurate translations.
Lucky for us it wasn't just during booth duty that we were able to engage with RightNow and their clients. The after-hours festivities provided ample opportunity to network in a more informal and fun atmosphere. And just like LinguistNow, RightNow's big gala incorporated state-of-the-art technology alongside some old-fashioned, low tech features, the latter in the form of a flip-book booth. Yes, a flip-book booth. These booths, where you dress up, get filmed for a few seconds and then see your footage chopped up into a paper flip book, seem to be growing in popularity around the country despite the antiquity of what they produce.
I took the liberty of scanning in some of the flip book pages that Kaarina and I, along with a group of friends, created at the RightNow flip-book booth.
It would be a stretch to say that human linguists are the flip-book equivalent in the world of software globalization. But while we're racing toward the ultimate in automated brand agents and digital entertainment, let's not throw out the human linguists (or the flip books) prematurely ... if ever.