16 June 2015

Over the Hurdle of Multilingualism to Global Leadership

The Digital Single Market (DSM) has been declared a European priority by the European Commission. Rightfully so! Software eats everything and particularly eCommerce is enjoying dramatic growth rates and thus heavy investment. VP Andrus Ansip  has nicely summarized the vision of the Digital Single Market: “Consumers need to be able to buy the best products at the best prices, wherever they are in Europe.”

Today, unfortunately, that means that the consumer is in most cases spending her/his money on a non-European site. The numbers are actually shocking: according to a recent Commission infographic the Digital Market today is made up by 39% national online services (likely not giving you the best deal) and 57% by US-based online services. EU cross-border, however, represents only a minuscule four percent!

Given also the potential for growth and new jobs, the Commission has launched a digital strategy to pave the way towards the DSM. It lists many laudable initiatives, like affordable parcel delivery costs, tackling of geo-blocking, simplifying VAT arrangements (after they just have been made unmanageable for cross-border SMEs), modernizing copyright, and strengthening European data protection rules. All this will surely help, but does it really address the core challenge of the Digital Single Market?

Commissioner Oettinger  recently stated that "a Polish citizen being refused to buy products on a German website is not compatible with the idea of Europe". I am not so sure whether that online business is really rejecting the customer. Why should it? It probably rather has a hard time communicating with this customer. But worse, the Polish citizen likely never managed to find the German website. A simple search already breaks the vision of border-less shopping. Enter a string in your language and the search results will already trap you in your national market. But even if a product name search crossed these language silos, the Polish citizen probably won’t understand what the German website is offering and under which conditions.

The main hurdle towards a Digital Single Market are Europe’s many languages. It’s amazing how politics, but also business, have overlooked this so far! Or maybe rather chosen to ignore it? Perhaps because they don’t know how to solve it? The big investments in technologies to overcome the language barrier have often produced only academic results. The field is dominated by research institutions and small niche players. This makes it hard to discover, purchase, and deploy language technology solutions.

Luckily, language technologies can today indeed enable the Polish citizen to find, buy, and use a German product or vice versa. By using data-driven approaches, innovative language technologies such as search, automatic translation, voice recognition, knowledge management, sentiment analysis, and many others, have achieved acceptable quality for the major languages. They are ready to be deployed in European eCommerce sites.

However, for achieving the vison of the Digital Single Market, we have to support at least all our 24 official languages and those of our most important trading partners. This requires a basic natural language processing (NLP) infrastructure. The European Language Technology industry is therefore pushing for the European Language Cloud (ELC), a public infrastructure providing the basic functionality required to process unstructured content. Through an API the ELC provides basic language technology services such as tokenization, named entity detection, etc. for all languages, in the same base quality, under the same favorable terms.

On top of this infrastructure, European language technology companies, mostly SMEs, will expose their offerings in the LTI Cloud. The LTI Cloud is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) wrapper around language technology components and functions as a marketplace. It will make it easy for start-ups, eCommerce, system integrators, and software companies to discover and plug ‘n’ play language technology.

The fourth edition of the LT-Innovate Summit, the yearly point of convergence of the Language Technology industry, will explore how to concretely launch these crucial building blocks for the DSM.

In a recent article, the Washington Post mocked Europe’s DSM efforts by stating that "Europe’s digital decline is accelerating". I would counter that. Why don’t we turn this much moaned about hurdle of Europe’s multilingualism into a unique opportunity? If we manage, in spite of our many cultures and languages, to create a Multilingual Digital Single Market and cross-border eGov, we will become the fittest for the global market.

Jochen Hummel is CEO of ESTeam & Coreon and Chairman of LT-Innovate

10 June 2015

Major disruption ahead in the language industry!

The Q2 issue of GALAxy, the quarterly newsletter of our partner association GALA, is guest edited by LT-Innovate Chairman Jochen Hummel (@JochenHummel) with a thought provoking piece on how Language Technology will leverage Big Data and transform the industry.

Several other articles are contributed and/or co-authored by LT-Innovate members and partners:
  • Big Data and the Translation Industry: Three Technology Challenges by Andrew Joscelyne, LT Innovate
  • Finding New Business Segments Through Big Data by Michael Wetzel, Coreon GmbH & Matthias Heyn, SDL plc
  • How to Improve Your Relationship with Machine Translation co-authored by Heidi Depraetere, CrossLang
  • Unlocking Language Resource Assets by Christian Galinski, Infoterm
  • Riga Summit Forges a Unified Vision for Multilingual Europe by Rihards Kalniņš, Tilde

08 June 2015

Highlights of the LT-Innovate Summit - Brussels, 25-26 June 2015


The fourth edition of the LT-Innovate Summit, the yearly point of convergence of the Language Technology industry, will take place in Brussels on 25-26 June 2015. It will benefit of the presence of leading policy makers:

  • Paul Rübig, Member of the European Parliament
  • Alexander De Croo, Vice Prime Minister of Belgium, Minister for the Digital Agenda
  • Robert Madelin, Director General, European Commission, DG CONNECT

Launch of the LTI Cloud

Jochen Hummel, LT-Innovate Chairman:

"We are launching the LTI Cloud on 26 June as a major new initiative that has the potential to benefit all our members. The aim of the LTI Cloud is to create a SaaS wrapper around language technology components developed by LT-Innovate members. It will make it easy for entrepreneurs, start-ups, software developers, IT departments, system integrators, and many others to source & plug ‘n’ play language technology components, allowing them to focus on their core business and competencies. Join us to find out more and make the LTI Cloud a success!"

See call for collaboration - Join us to launch the LTI Cloud!
Join us to Launch the LTI Cloud!
Join us to Launch the LTI Cloud!


LT CEO Summit and Industry Challenges

As every year, we have lined up a roster of "challengers":
  • Christian Dirschl, Chief Content Architect, Wolters Kluwer Deutschland GmbH
  • Florence Beaujard, Head of Linguistics and Physiology for Cockpit Design, Airbus
  • Armin Hopp, Founder, Speexx
  • Christophe Leclercq, Founder, EurActiv

These high level industry executives will provide an overview of their company's current and future needs from a language technology point of view. Do not miss the opportunity to participate in these forward looking "challenges".

LT-Innovate Award 2015

Discover "The Best in LT", network with entrepreneurs, experts and investors... and celebrate the Winners of our prestigious industry Award.

Workshop on the future of conversational interaction technologies

We are collaborating with leading academics to prepare a Research and Innovation Roadmap for multilingual and multimodal conversational technologies. The current version of the roadmap is available at citia.eu.

The main goal of the workshop is to collect feedback and recommendations on (1) refining the research & innovation scenarios; (2) mechanisms to bridge the gap between research (including cognitive sciences) & innovation; (3) further development of the stakeholder community; and (4) how to develop a startup culture to bridge the gap between the excellent research base and commercial reality.

Workshop on language resources: foundations of the multilingual digital single market

This workshop aims at identifying concrete scenarios for the improvement of the usability of Language Resources (LR). It is split into 3 interrelated panels: LR demand, LR supply and Matching LR offer to demand. Panelists from industry, research and the public sector will, in particular, discuss the following questions:
  • How can LR identification become a more streamlined, accessible and easily achieved activity?
  • Where and how can LRs be found and identified to solve a specific MT problem?
  • Who would be able to do the work as a service?
  • How can terminology of a given field and text data relevant to the same field be found online in a dependable way?
  • What are the major barriers for finding and using LRs from existing repositories?
  • What would be best ways to overcome these barriers?

Check out the full programme and register here!