Wondering about the results of the NTIF Interpreting Technology Challenge? Wonder no more!

As it turns out, the weather was a bit too cold for ice-cream anywhere else in Helsinki, on November 24, 2017. But the temperature at Scandic Paasi Hotel was mounting fast as contestants and voters gathered for NTIF’s first Interpreting Technology Challenge.

Six of the most innovative interpreting software platforms got to pitch their solutions to a room packed solid with potential buyers of interpretation. At the end, the audience was asked to rate challengers against four well-defined criteria, as follows: Most Innovative, Most Versatile, Most interpreter-friendly, Most Reliable. Those in the audience were also asked to pick the one solution that most closely met their specific needs as clients.

Meet the Challengers

Challengers came from Finland, Norway, Lithuania, Switzerland. And I flew all the way from New York to moderate this high-level panel and to introduce our very own KUDO as the only non-European contestant. 

Ümit Özaydin, a veteran conference interpreter and agency owner, set the tone with an insightful presentation. A well-traveled man who’s covered nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface, he had the audience spellbound for 15 minutes with compelling evidence in favor of RSI.

Challengers split rather neatly into two self-contained sub-domains, technologically as well as geographically. Three of them — Túlka, TikkTalk and Youpret — have solutions that primarily address public interpreting scenarios, for one-on-one interactions and use cases. These include refugees in need of clearance, healthcare seekers, tourists or business people trying to talk their way into a purchase or out of a fix. Those challengers — all three of them — also came from the Nordic region.

The other three, KUDO, Interactio and Interprefy, pitched solutions more closely geared at live conferences attended by larger groups of attendees and serviced by conference interpreters. They offer a cloud-based approach to streaming audio and video content (Interactio is audio-only) to conference goers who rely on their own smartphones and computers to participate in meetings from anywhere. And while some of these players are close to Scandinavia, none of them is rooted in the region.

Across the board, these innovators share many commonalities: they are all tech-savvy. They are risk-takers. They are forward-looking and they will not hesitate to take the less-traveled path. Yet they differ drastically on philosophy, the use of technology and, most importantly, their business models.

Behold the Results

The challenge results captured those similarities and differences quite closely. Here they are:

NTIF - KUDO most versatile  NTIF interpreter-friendlyNTIF most reliable  NTIF innovative

Let me break them down for you: KUDO was voted 1st in Versatility, 2nd in Interpreter-Friendliness (right behind Tulka) and 3rd in Reliability (tied with Interactiobehind TikkTalk.

Finland’s Tulka was rated the most Innovative. Interprefy and Youpret left an excellent impression, too. All had a chance to show their uniqueness. All walked away feeling good about their products and with pointers on what to do next. 

As for people’s personal pick, a challenger’s popularity is a function of how easily you can read their name on the next slide. Then again, the audience got creative in offering their vote. In that context, a vote for ‘the last guy!’ should be counted as a vote towards KUDO (as I was, indeed, the last guy to present!) So please make the necessary adjustments, will you?

NTIF personal pick

The afternoon ended with an animated Q&A, in which I was aided by Yuliya Nesterenko, a most competent host and co-moderator who seems to read everyone’s mind and anticipate their every request. All in all an unprecedented format that captured the attention of attendees left and right. Kudos to organizers for their vision (pun intended!)

As contestants were well aware, participation in the challenge was not risk-free. That held true also for the NTIF‘s organizers. They were breaking new ground, and they, too, had their reputation on the line. Like the innovators who accepted to be in Helsinki for this challenge, they deserve to be congratulated for their bravery and commitment.

New Challenge Ahead?

Back to my opening statement as a moderator. Despite the differences in their tools and their business, these trailblazers have more in common than is readily apparent. And I guess the results in a way reflect that.

So, I hope you managed to have at least a scoop of your preferred flavor. Not all is lost if you didn’t. Something tells me that challenge will become a trait of NTIF for years to come.

A final note of thanks to Anne-Marie Colliander Lind and Cecilia Enbäck for entrusting me with the responsibility of moderating such a high-level panel. It was definitely worth the journey from New York on behalf of KUDO.

Vote results collected through Sli.do. Title image courtesy of Martina Wärenfeldt
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