18 May 2014

2014 - The year of the verticals for Europe's language technology industry

In a recent interview, the CEO of  the Spanish firm Daedalus, José Carlos Gonzalez  said with great verve that his “goal for 2014 is to cover progressively the specific needs of our clients by helping them to develop solutions in vertical markets, freeing them from the complexity of language processing technology.”

Freeing verticals from the complexity of language technologies is a necessary step forward. But it means knowing about the specific needs of industries, and how solutions can be invented that address the infrastructural conditions of these often large-scale players requiring fairly long-term

At LT-Innovate, we believe that 2014 will be the year of the verticals. This means that instead of endlessly repeating what our language technology could do if there was, as the poet said, world enough and time (and above all money), we should deliver solutions that industries actually need.

We kick-started this process of market analysis some 18 months ago and have built up a useful body of knowledge about gaps, want-to-haves, on-going problems, and the sheer lack of awareness among various verticals of the potential benefits of LT. We recently published our findings on these markets to help our members compare their experience and insight with our own efforts at trying to identify opportunities.

Each industry naturally has its specific needs, even though all of them tend to follow the trend towards breaking down information silos and stepping up cross-lingual data sharing while keeping costs down.
We found that the increasingly globalising Manufacturing industry tended to expect massively unified information centres with localised interfaces; that Tourism needed deep, multilingual sentiment analysis applications, and that Media & Publishing is increasingly requiring integrated multimodal (speech/text/image) monitoring, using multilingual speech recognition among other technologies.

We also learnt that whatever the structure of the industry, there are multiple touch points in most workflows where LT can play a role in lowering costs, improving efficiency and contributing to what we can call digital integration. Spoken interfaces can improve productivity in numerous industrial jobs, from store-room workers to clinicians making out reports on patients.

Likewise, the need for cross-lingual access to information of all sorts is now a constant in nearly every European vertical. Today these tend to be addressed by point applications; tomorrow we can expect far more integrated solutions that can adapt more effectively to specific requirements in the online workplace.

This year LT-Innovate hopes to leverage this initial knowledge base to build a clearer picture of where language & speech technology can play a differentiating, even disruptive, role in simplifying processes, adding value to operations, lowering costs and breaking down data silos in different industries in Europe. So stay in touch.

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