Bertrand Gstalder is a relative newcomer to the language industry. Giving the CEO Keynote at SlatorCon Remote November 2023, Gstalder acknowledged that it had been a “very short time” since his appointment as CEO of Acolad in March 2023, and described himself as an “enthusiastic learner.”
While not an industry veteran, Gstalder has a technology background spanning more than 25 years, which has influenced his reaction and response to ChatGPT’s release: “The potential for our industry was quite evident for me,” he said. “How we react to this change will define the future we will have at the personal, company, or industry level.”
Gstalder dove into the emergence of generative AI (a.k.a. GenAI) and the importance of embracing the technology to stay competitive while elevating content quality, engagement, and relevance.
Whether GenAI should rightly be called a revolution or a natural evolution of technology is still up for debate. In Gstalder’s view, rather than an incremental improvement, ChatGPT and its ilk represent “a leap reshaping the landscape almost overnight.”
The technology’s historical development, within and outside of the language industry, can act as a guide to how language service providers (LSPs) should approach it.
“No reason to fear, just motivation to act and take the lead before others do.” — Bertrand Gstalder, CEO, Acolad
Gstalder pointed out that Acolad — like many other big players in the language industry — had already been leveraging AI use internally and externally long before ChatGPT came onto the scene.
“AI has been a focus for our R&D teams group-wide since 2016, allowing us to anticipate firsthand [in] the rise of machine translation and the development of newer tools [such] as speech-to-text,” he explained, adding that ultimately, success in this new era will require integrating not just one kind of technology, but many kinds.
Mapping out the lifecycle of this new AI revolution, Gstalder cited several overlapping periods, during which new technology appears; new services and features are developed; the first concrete use cases expand; and, finally, the technology becomes part of everyday life, cementing the revolution’s impact.
Gstalder suggested that the current explosion of AI-driven technology has already changed the language industry. Users’ expectations have shifted toward more accurate, personalized, secure, independent, and agile products and experiences.
In other words: Rather than “one-size-fits-all,” AI is ushering in an era of “mass customization.” The CEO noted that this was “unthinkable just a few years ago, with considerable positive impact in time to market, supply chain costs, and, of course, workload.”
According to Gstalder, successfully taking AI tech from theory to practice requires data, connected platforms, and integration capabilities — all of which are, in turn, key to future business goals.
Automate and Accelerate
While Acolad has already developed a prompting platform, the LSP has yet to make it available to customers.
“AI can help automate and accelerate tasks, but humans are still needed to make the final decisions and ensure that AI algorithms operate responsibly and factor the risk of hallucination or misunderstanding of the context,” Gstalder said.
To that end, Acolad has begun to focus on upskilling its own employees to work with and improve AI. Its internal teams have expanded to include more AI product managers, and the company has started an AI Ambassador program. More than 70 volunteers from a variety of departments will help colleagues onboard and integrate multiple technologies into their workflows.
Gstalder shared a few of Acolad’s recent use cases to demonstrate the successful integration of AI. These include “hybrid MT” (that is, models enhanced with AI-assisted linguistic QA and other features) as well as AI-enabled content-generation workflows.
Acolad recently provided audio instructions as part of a multimedia project for a well-known board game. Using an AI workflow shortened the turnaround time, and integrating synthetic voices reduced costs.
“We have been down this path before,” Gstalder said of the advent of AI. “No reason to fear, just motivation to act and take the lead before others do.”
For those who missed SlatorCon Remote November 2023 in real-time, recordings will be available via Slator’s Pro and Enterprise plans in due course.