Boostlingo Zooms Ahead

An Answer to the Latest Challenge in Remote Interpreting

Report by Sarah Hickey.

Boostlingo-Zooms-Ahead

Boostlingo has just announced the release of three new features that will go live on July 24, 2020. The most notable feature is Boostlingo’s new Zoom integration. While other virtual interpreting technology (VIT) providers are also able to work with Zoom, their current solutions can best be described as workarounds rather than integrations. Boostlingo’s new feature takes things a step further.

The Zoom boom

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.

Number of daily meeting participants per platform, in millions

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.

Boostlingo: Not just a workaround

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:

  1. Boostlingo can accurately capture the duration the interpreter is on the call, identify the interpreter, their specializations and so on — which would not be possible without the new integration.
  2. There is an added layer of security. It is no secret that Zoom was heavily criticized over privacy protection issues. By having a connection between Zoom and Boostlingo, Boostlingo can use their own encryption for the interpretation.
  3. Convenience. Clients can still use the Boostlingo platform they are familiar with, they can add their own interpreters or use Boostingo’s network (as they usually would) but can also choose to have their meeting in Zoom.

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.

The fine print

That being said, there are of course a few details in the fine print that you should be aware of:

  1. Boostlingo specializes in over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI), so their Zoom integration is designed for consecutive interpreting rather than simultaneous interpreting. This means that for very large meetings with many different languages, the solution might not be ideal — a problem similar to an onsite scenario, where simultaneous interpreting is the preferred method for large multilingual meetings.
  2. The new feature does not work with the free Zoom version. Zoom Pro or higher is required for use.
  3. For now, Boostlingo’s Zoom integration only works for OPI, meaning the interpreter is only connected via audio. The company plans to roll out VRI for Zoom as the next step. Participants can, however, use Zoom’s regular video functionality.

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.

This is only the beginning

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.

And while web conferencing and multilingual web conferencing are not the same thing, both have seen a significant boom since the pandemic. For virtual interpreting this came with new requirements, and we can expect these to influence the virtual interpreting space far beyond the current situation. Boostlingo, for example, already plans to add similar integrations for other popular web conferencing platforms in the near future.

Sarah_Hickey_Chief_Researcher_Nimdzi_Insights_photo

This report was researched and written by Nimdzi's Chief Researcher and Lead Interpreting Specialist Sarah Hickey. If you wish to learn more about Boostlingo or the interpreting market in general, reach out to Sarah at [email protected].

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