Report by Sarah Hickey.
As with any crisis, there are winners and there are losers, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, web conferencing has positioned itself as a clear winner. The video conferencing market had already seen an uptick before the pandemic, but since March 2020 the number of meeting participants has gone through the roof.
And even though the number of daily meeting participants has increased by an average of 70 percent for all major video conferencing platforms since the onset of COVID-19, Zoom is miles ahead of its competition.
Sources: Zoom, Microsoft, Google
While it’s worth pointing out that web conferencing and multilingual web conferencing are not the same thing (they are at best two sides of the same coin), it’s not surprising that the Zoom phenomenon is having a knock-on effect on the virtual interpreting space.
Since the start of the pandemic, Nimdzi has been reporting on its effect on the interpreting industry and monitoring developments on a continuous basis. Once the pandemic hit, it did not take long before VIT providers received inquiries about whether they can integrate with popular web conferencing platforms. While multilingual video conferences are arguably done best on platforms that have been created specifically for this purpose, people have a tendency to want to use what they know. And what most people know are Zoom and similar platforms.
It didn’t take long, then, for VIT providers to react to this growing demand and start announcing possible integrations with Zoom and other web conferencing platforms. So you may rightfully wonder how this one is different from the rest.
While almost all large VIT providers are able to work with Zoom and other web conferencing platforms, their current solutions are not full integrations. They are workarounds where conference participants and interpreters need to be connected both to Zoom (or another video conferencing platform) and the VIT provider’s platform. This allows all participants to be part of the Zoom meeting but listen to the interpretation via the VIT provider’s platform. The interpreters take the original audio from Zoom but interpret on the VIT provider’s platform.
Boostlingo is now taking things a step further. While average Zoom users cannot simply add a Boostlingo interpreter to their regular calls at the click of a button, Boostlingo clients can now enable Zoom integration directly on the Boostlingo platform. Once this has been enabled, clients can request interpreters for their Zoom meeting directly from the Boostlingo platform. This generates unique contact emails which requesters can then use to invite interpreters directly into a Zoom meeting, using the invite button on Zoom. This adds the interpreters directly to the Zoom meeting while also connecting them to the Boostlingo platform — which comes with three major advantages:
While the interpreters are connected to both Zoom and Boostlingo for the duration of the call, meeting participants only need to be connected to Zoom, which makes this solution a lot more user-friendly than those of other VIT providers.
Switching on the Zoom integration within Boostlingo. Source: Boostlingo.
That being said, there are of course a few details in the fine print that you should be aware of:
Dialing an interpreter through Zoom. Source: Boostlingo
It is also worth pointing out that integrations like these are more complex for remote simultaneous interpreting providers than for providers who focus on consecutive interpreting. This is because for simultaneous interpreting multiple language channels are required, interpreters need to have a handover button and ideally have a relay option (when interpreters interpret from a colleague’s output rather than from the original speaker, in a case where they don’t work with the current speaker’s language). So it is not surprising that the first proper integration like this comes from a VIT provider who specializes in consecutive interpreting.
Still, it’s a big step that Boostlingo has managed to enable Zoom integration via their own platform, instead of using a workaround like everyone else.
So where does this leave us? While Boostlingo’s Zoom integration still comes with a few caveats, a significant step forward has been made. Looking at the growing overall demand in the video conferencing space, it can be expected that this is only the beginning.
Even before March 2020, the area of web conferencing had seen rapid growth and was forecast to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4 percent and reach a market size of USD 5.4 billion by 2025. Since the onset of the pandemic, when global lockdowns forced the world to pivot to remote solutions, the market for video conferencing software is now estimated at USD 8.2 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 12.8 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 9.2 percent.
On June 10, 2020, we published our Nimdzi Language Technology Atlas, the comprehensive resource that maps hundreds of language technology solutions from all around the world. Two months later, after receiving and reviewing feedback from more than three dozen companies who submitted requests to add new tools or change their categorization, we released an update to the infographic on August 27.
In this year’s edition of the Nimdzi Language Technology Atlas, we collected data from providers of more than 700 technology solutions. Analyzed and categorized, this is the only language technology map you will need.
COVID-19 has evolved into a global event impacting public health as well as the economy. We can venture into speculation about some likely outcomes.