Language-as-a-Service Will Lead to Global Expansion, Says Arvind Pani
Language localization is not the next growth hack and should be looked upon as an additional capability that business should consider investing in. Although, it might seem like a quick way to penetrate a largely untapped market segment, but there are a lot of intricacies involved in being able to market to local language users that need to be thought through at the business’ end as well. We try to understand end-user personas, likes & dislikes, daily habits, aspirations based on which we help businesses with specific solutions that provide a simple but a superlative user experience.
According to several industry reports, local language user base is growing fastest and consumer Internet companies stand to gain from this. Localization of their interface for end users has become an important part of their overall business strategy. We are seeing this change gaining momentum. Localization of this kind includes many elements like translation of product names, intuition driven ‘click to action’ information. The companies have to realize that unlike an English language internet user who knows that clicking on ‘buy’ button will take him to the transaction page, for a non-English user, it should say ‘For purchasing click here’ in their local language. Such a small proactive step can lead to a successful transaction on an e-commerce platform.
India is the second fastest growing mobile market in the World after China. Within India, the fastest growing sets of users are the native language speakers. Having a language first strategy is essential and any business would be doing them a disservice by having one-size fits all approach to Indian users/consumers. To ensure that enterprises don’t have to invest heavily in language technology infrastructure, we have built Language-as-a-Service platform, which is an intelligent platform that transliterates without losing context and helps users in content discovery.
The time to go local couldn’t be right with the support coming from right quarters. The Government through its string of digital initiatives is also focusing on making citizen-facing initiatives available in multiple Indian languages. Through Digital India program, the Government aims to connect all Indian citizens and empower them via enhanced mobile infrastructure and cheaper handsets. Riding on these two levers, an added language lever makes for an explosive combination for any business to connect with customers in India. It is an encouraging trend that various stakeholders – enterprises, investors, customers and government – are focusing on making internet language friendly but we have to gain pace in order to achieve this goal. Even now, our most popular language Hindi has only 0.1 percent presence in terms of content online while English dominates a lion share. There are 11 popular languages in our country covering a vast majority of the smartphone users. A good beginning has been made but a lot more needs to be done and at a rapid pace to include local language users in the country. Otherwise, affordable smartphones and data plans won’t be enough to add the next 300 million users.
Good news is that smartphone makers and consumer Internet companies have taken a lead in the language revolution. We have users who are hungry for data in their language and they need it now. The design aspects and a delightful user experience should be at the core of designing solutions and technology should be used as an enabler in the process. It is very imperative and second nature for users who have migrated from PC on to the mobile phones and they have recognized the icons for ‘Buy’, ‘shopping cart’ and‘order cancellation’ etc. But for first time users, it can be challenging to understand these symbols. Thus design and context assumes importance when thinking of a local language strategy for your business.
I will conclude by saying that offering multi-lingual services for end users is no longer an option, it is a must do for businesses to reach new customer segment, drive penetration deeper and emerge as winners.