Connectivity has never been more important. Companies are outgrowing their countries’ borders, colleagues no longer work in the same office and customers are spread across the globe. Reporting lines get stretched, languages are more diverse and competition appears in new places - just waiting for the slightest mistake to lure your customer or employee to their organisation. Because, to be honest, now that the internet is available worldwide and that it has billions of users, we all have access to a wide range of seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
This brings us to the fundamental question that organisations are struggling with in this day and age - how do we stay connected with our target groups?
The answer to this question used to be quite straightforward: everyone was convened for a meeting - be it a staff party, a presentation for customers or a conference for a particular target group. Organising a fine event did the trick to keep everyone on the same page. However, this is no longer valid. Live events are not totally passé. Not at all - although the larger and the more international the organisation, the harder it becomes to get everyone in the same place at the same time. In itself this is very costly and time-consuming work.
Webinars were a good alternative, especially for smaller events held in one language. For multilingual events, however, only a labour and budget-intensive on-site option existed. However, many organisations lacked the time, the money and the manpower to make these meetings happen. This resulted in a lose-lose situation, as organisations disengaged from their target groups and the latter reverted to organisations that gave them the attention for which they craved. These international organisations and companies asked us for a solution - and it is this solution that we developed, together with our partners.
Live interpretation is added to an online platform. Think Skype, combined with professional conference interpreters, presentation and chat functionalities. Participants do not require special hardware. A laptop or smartphone suffices for them to log in and participate in the webinar from anywhere in the world and in the language of their choice. Moreover, the event can be recorded, including the interpretation, so it can easily be replayed afterwards. This platform is perfect for smaller events such as internal financial updates, but it is also very well suited for larger events, such as shareholder meetings.
B2B Marketers are big webinar fanatics. A staggering 62% of B2B marketers use them as part of their content management strategy!
Multilingual conference calls
These are conference calls with simultaneous interpretation. No specific hardware is required, even an old-fashioned telephone does the job. This platform is mostly used for conference calls (with few participants) or as an alternative to webinars when participants do not have a reliable internet connection. Think of NGOs having to brief people in remote locations or of short discussions with customers or colleagues, who speak a different language. These calls can also be recorded and replayed after they are finished.
We can of course also combine live and virtual meetings. What if half of the participants can participate in the live event, while the others want to participate from other locations? We link the live event to our online platform, so that participants can engage from wherever they are, with or without interpretation. Speakers do not have to be present at the conference venue, they can also use the platform to give their presentation to an audience that has gathered elsewhere.
A live event is the only option, but the venue does not have the capacity to install booths. Should you leave interpretation out altogether? Will everyone understand the exchanges? We can invite all interpreters to one of our technical hubs and stream the interpretation to the participants in the meeting room. Interpreters follow the event and the presentations thanks to a live video feed - and they interpret everything as if they were present at the venue.
What is the added value of these virtual and hybrid solutions?
We have already explained how virtual platforms can be used. Are there any statistics that confirm their added value? In 2011, Citrix Online published the conclusions of their research at the American Institute for Certified Tax Consultants. The study shows that the use of webinars reduced travel costs by $100.000 and emissions by 200 tons per year, whilst their employees’ productivity increased substantially.
Do we actually need translations? After all everyone speaks English nowadays.
Nelson Mandela once said: “When you talk to someone in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” A study by the Common Sense Advisory, a market researcher for the language industry, shows that 72% of consumers are more prone to buy a product that is offered to them in their own language. The same piece of research states that 56% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. Need we say more?
So, should we organise everything in the virtual environment from now on, and have everything translated in all of the world’s languages? Of course not. Organisations have to define target groups and analyse whether multi-lingual virtual platforms add value and foster engagement. The importance of real-life meetings should by no means be underestimated and translations do not add value in every situation. But when organisations use virtual communication technologies strategically (and add interpretation where needed) they will find that they can more efficiently interact with people who were out of reach until then. They will also take some pressure off their employees’ shoulders, as they will have to spend less valuable time hanging around in airports, hoping that their flight leaves in time.
We help our customers develop an effective communication strategy and make our digital platforms available to them - so that they can connect with their target groups. The results of this approach have proven that when each of the partners contributes their expertise, the sum is greater than the parts.
 B2B Content Marketing:2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America
 Common Sense Advisory “Can’t read, won’t buy: why language matters on global websites”, 2014