Lakshman Rathnam, Wordly: “businesses would benefit from easier, more engaging attendee feedback”

Fluent communication can help solve more than one problem, especially while speaking about business. However, not everyone has the gift to learn more than one language.

But that's where AI-powered language interpretation platforms come in handy. With tools like Wordly, you can now host meetings, attend seminars, and much more, without understanding a single, foreign word, as the program will guarantee a seamless real-time translation.

Thus, Cybernews sat down with Lakshman Rathnam, CEO of Wordly, to unveil endless interpretation possibilities.

How did the idea of Wordly originate? What has your journey been like?

Founder Lakshman Rathnam had a background in the hearing aid industry, and was interested in making live conferences more accessible to those with hearing loss. In 2018, he attended a conference conducted in a language he did not speak and realized he was functionally deaf in such an environment.

This led to extending his original accessibility concept into real-time translation for both text and audio, for live conferences. The solution grew from there.

Can you introduce us to your ​​collaboration solutions? What are its key features?

Wordly’s cloud-based platform provides AI-powered interpretation, translating speakers in meetings and events into 20+ languages. Attendees read and listen along on their own smartphones, tablet, or laptop.

Wordly allows global teams and communities to understand each other, greatly increasing inclusivity, participation, and productivity.

What issues can a company run into if it doesn't have proper translation tools in place?

Companies can greatly overestimate knowledge transfer, participation, and engagement without adequate interpretation tools. Companies frequently underestimate the scope of the language barriers within their own organization, let alone the obstacles to attracting global partners and customers.

For example, one of our customers, Cohesity, held an all-hands meeting. They were an “English speaking” company, officially. They thought perhaps 20 people from their Japan team would leverage the Wordly real-time translation for the CEO’s address. 288 people used Wordly translation in 11 languages. Almost 1/3rd of the employees were on the webinar.

With the help of Wordly, subject matter experts can now speak fluently and express their ideas coherently which can be understood by others, thus increasing free exchange of ideas and speeding innovation.

How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new challenges you had to adapt to?

Wordly was well positioned to adapt to the pandemic lockdowns. While onsite events evaporated, virtual events grew several fold. Wordly’s platform integrates with many virtual and hybrid conferencing platforms. Event organizers forced to go virtual realized it was an opportunity to cast a global net and attract more attendees.

For example, EACTS (European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery) added Wordly translation into 15 languages for their annual conference and saw attendance increase approximately 50% to more than 6,000 attendees.

Besides quality translation solutions, what other technologies do you think would greatly enhance business operations?

Businesses benefit from capturing user and attendee satisfaction hour-by-hour, rather than at the conclusion of a long event, if at all.

Businesses would benefit from easier, more engaging attendee feedback mechanisms so they can fine-tune each element of their prospect and attendee engagement.

Where do you hope to see AI-powered solutions be used more often in the near future?

AI is great for doing highly repetitive tasks that are done by enough people that there’s ample training data. AI should be good for predicting which prospects are most ready to purchase, which equipment is most likely to need repair or replacement, and which messages are most appealing to which prospects.

In light of the current global events, maintaining creativity has been a struggle for some companies. How can organizations foster creativity and innovation when the majority of employees are working remotely?

While working remotely misses some fertile human dynamics for creativity, there are other dynamics that are not proximity-dependent.

For example, changing the routine, mixing groups of employees who don’t normally interact, and giving them lists of questions as prompts for exploring needs, solutions, and enhancements work remotely.

In this age of ever-evolving technology, what do you think are the key security practices both businesses and individuals should adopt?

Two-factor authentication can be used by humans to validate humans, not just machines. If you get an urgent email purporting to be from the CEO to send money, call/email/Slack/chat or walk to their office and double check.

Smart cards are still the gold standard for strong authentication, which prevents many kinds of attacks.

Tell us, what’s next for Wordly?

Wordly will continue adding more languages as the data sets get good enough for quality interpretation. Wordly will continue to make AI interpretation more scalable, easier, and seamless for users across the globe. Wordly’s primary mission is increasing productivity, engagement, and inclusivity, so that’s our north star.