How AI Can Break Down Language Barriers in Business

With over 6,000 spoken languages in the world today, translation problems can be a significant deterrent for global trade between countries. It is no coincidence that countries geographically close to each other tend to do more trade with each other; they share similar linguistic traits, making trade communications far simpler.

But what if these linguistic hurdles could be overcome by new technology, in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Consumers are fast becoming more ‘online’ with their purchases, due to increased industry automation. People want to be able to complete a transaction by speaking to AI like they would a shop assistant – in their own conversational, intelligent, natural way. Conversational AI allows global businesses to have a multilingual digital sales assistant simultaneously serving multiple customers, in multiple continents. It won’t be long until AI will have the ability to convert a foreign language to vernacular in real time. Think of it as your own personal translator within your device or a website.

The impact of this new technology on the business world will be monumental. The success of a company operating in an ever-evolving market relies upon efficient communication.

Online auction giant, eBay deployed a new AI language translation system in 2014. This allowed users to translate listings on the website into their mother tongue. Where bids were previously limited to countries of the seller’s native language, eBay now allows global buyers to access the same listings in multiple languages through the implementation of translational AI.

Research carried out by Accenture on the impact of AI in twelve developed economies highlighted that AI could double annual economic growth rates in 2035. This is through changing the nature of work and creating a new relationship between man and machine. The impact of AI technologies on business is projected to increase labour productivity by up to 40% and enable people to make more efficient use of their time. (NYSE: ACN, Sept 2016)

Not only will multilingual Conversational AI facilitate economic growth, but it will also break down educational barriers. Access to translated knowledge that was previously only presented English or Spanish will bridge the gap between language and education.

Through the removal of language barriers and an increased demand for Natural Language Processing on the international stage, technology is seemingly connecting more unlikely trade communities. This is facilitating a widely accessible online consumer market, which can only be a positive for companies, whether they are SMEs or world giants.

Essentially, AI has the potential to transform our perception of language altogether. By integrating world cultures through removing such barriers, will we inevitably all begin speaking the same language?

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