In August of 2020, KUDO welcomed Australian language services company 2M to its global family of Partners. In this edition of Meet the Partners, KUDO’s very own Michelle Cartín-Storey, Head of Global Partnerships, & 2M Chief Technology Officer, Thomas Lespes-Muñoz, connect virtually to talk about 2M’s beginning, their partnership with KUDO, and the future of multilingual conference software. Thomas ends the interview with some pointers for any company seeking a partnership with KUDO.
Michelle Cartín-Storey: Hello Thomas, thanks for taking the time to chat today. Can you start by telling us about your journey into the world of conference interpretation?
Thomas Lespes-Muñoz: 2M Language Services (previously known as Multimedia Languages & Marketing) was founded in Western Australia in 1999 by professional translator and interpreter, Tea Dietterich. It was a combined love of languages and technology that led Tea to establish her own Language Service Provider. 2M has since then provided mainly translation/localization and conference interpretation before expanding its offering to community interpreting services and language technologies more recently.
2M Language Services is now renowned across the Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America as a highly innovative language service and language technology provider. Being at the forefront of innovation, 2M recognized a clear opportunity and necessity to integrate technology into its services. With technology now at the heart of interpreting, 2M is driving remote simultaneous interpreting and remote interpreting settings into all aspects of its servicing.
MCS: Super interesting! So, in these 22 years you have been in the market, when did you first start thinking about using multilingual online event software?
TLM: The idea first struck in 2017 when 2M began researching and testing multilingual platforms due to the prohibitive costs of accessing simultaneous interpreting for many clients such as booth & hardware rental and freight, interpreter travel and accommodation, or AV technicians hire. We believe that everybody should have access to information in their own language and that modern technology is able to democratize it. Also, we are conscious of the carbon footprint caused by onsite events, and multilingual online events are a viable solution to address this important aspect.
When COVID-19 hit, the language industry changed completely, and there was suddenly an urgent need for remote capabilities to enable and support continued interpreting. With web conferencing leaders reporting 1000% increases in virtual events since the pandemic began, it was clear there was an opportunity for 2M to maximize its experience in remote interpreting. That is the moment 2M kicked into action to quickly meet new demands for high-quality remote interpreting services.
MCS: What impact would you say working with multilingual online event software has had on your working life?
TLM: It has presented new opportunities for LSPs. One of the significant benefits of using KUDO has been the ability for interpreters to continue working despite the lack of onsite jobs. On the other hand, recent increased use of multilingual conference platforms has not come without challenges, such as technical support or interpreter training and equipment. 2M has responded to such challenges with training sessions throughout our 2M Academy, designed to equip current and future interpreters with the tools to successfully carry out remote interpreting services.
Increased awareness around multilingual web conferencing platforms has highlighted opportunities in promoting our remote service offering and the benefits it can provide for clients.
MCS: I completely agree! From our side, as you have experienced, we provide a very comprehensive onboarding to our Partners, followed by a series of training sessions offered for free – on a rotation basis. We develop the sessions based on the Partner’s needs, covering interpretation, tech support, hybrid setups, social media, sales… we even have a new one on preparing tenders which launch this month! I do believe that, as a SaaS platform, it is in our best interest to help our Partners succeed in their endeavors, and, at least for now, that means providing all the training we can provide and making the transition to hybrid or virtual settings as smooth as possible. For the Partners, interpreters and clients alike.
Speaking of challenges, would you like to tell us about one of your favourite or most challenging projects…?
TLM: Of course. One of our clients is a major mining and resource global corporation that we have been servicing since 2013 with translation, localization and interpreting services. At the start of the pandemic, they shifted their onsite events to online settings and started using a multilingual online event platform while still relying on our specialized interpreters to provide accurate interpretation. Being displeased with the platform they were using, we suggested using KUDO as it offered a user experience more in line with their expectations.
We quickly had to move with KUDO and train our interpreters to offer them a smooth shift between platforms. It has not come without technology and training challenges, but they have since become a regular user of KUDO. We were able to assist them in increasing the inclusiveness and accessibility of their online meetings and events.
MCS: I know exactly which client you are talking about. I remember our Head of Interpretation and sales team joining 2M on your sales meetings, demoing KUDO along with you so that they will decide to make the transition and choose KUDO. That is probably one of the nicest parts of our job at the Partnership´s team, going hand in hand with Partners, helping them close big accounts… even when that means waking up early to catch day time in Australia!
Now that we have covered where you started and where you are, let me ask you: What kind of role do you see multilingual conference software playing in the future for companies such as 2M?
TLM: I think multilingual conference software will become a leading player in the world of interpretation in the future. Already, it has proven a convenient and accessible option for clients and interpreters to interact. It allows interpreters to work from anywhere while still providing high-quality interpreting services while giving clients access to a larger pool of interpreters. Whilst multilingual conference software will not necessarily replace conventional interpreting, I expect it to remain an advantageous alternative. Elimination of travel, onsite equipment, venue booking costs and carbon footprint reduction are just some of the perks of remote interpreting: overall, remote interpreting can reduce up to 80% of expenses!
Due to the efficient delivery and cost-effective nature of multilingual conference software such as KUDO, we believe that you are here to stay. In addition, many workplaces expect their employees to continue working from home permanently even after the pandemic, so virtual meetings and events will continue, and demand for remote interpreting services will continue to increase. For many LSPs, providing seamless remote interpreting services in conjunction with onsite interpreters will be key to securing future success. 2M is committed to continue satisfying future demand for remote interpreting, and we hope to do so along with KUDO.
MCS: Thank you! That is great to hear, and we definitively look forward to many more years working alongside 2M.
One last question: if you could give 3 tips to a company looking to become a KUDO Partner, what would they be?
- Make sure your client understands the basics of KUDO and its features. It may happen that one of its advanced features is the answer to a need you didn´t even know your client had!
- Prepare your interpreters to work on KUDO (training, enrolling them in the KUDO certification process, verifying their equipment), so they can start working as soon as you become a Partner.
- Take advantage of the support offered by the KUDO team. They are very collaboration-driven and always available.
MCS: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Thomas. I enjoyed catching up with you and learning about 2M’s past, present, and bright future with KUDO. Looking forward to seeing you at the next partners meeting.
2M at a glance
Government, Mining & Resources, Defence, Manufacturing, Healthcare & Medical, Finance & Agribusiness.
Year established: 1999
Brisbane and Melbourne (Australia), Manila (Philippines), Auckland (New Zealand), Paris (France), Córdoba (Argentina), Santiago (Chile).
Dream application: A unified app that would allow clients to access all the language services 2M can offer; on demand: translation, localization, machine translation, subtitling, voice-overs and interpreting. The app would integrate seamlessly with state-of-the-art technologies for each service aspect (i.e. with KUDO for online meetings interpretation).
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