Did you know that Chinese was the most spoken language in the world? It’s not too difficult to guess why. Spanish is second and English is only third on the list. If you have travelled to countries where English is not the first language, a language guide is a must-have on the list of things to carry. Most nations still use their local language to transact business and otherwise. While it is a challenge, it is also a big opportunity for companies like LinguaNext who are using it to their advantage.
Who are they?
LinguaNext is a language management platform for software applications and works with corporations to address multi-language and local language support for their information technology systems. LinguaNext’s technology-based solutions enable any enterprise, mobile or cloud software system to work in any language with zero changes to the underlying application code.
Rajeev Phadke is the brain behind the technology that drives LinguaNext. This IIT Bombay alumnus has over 18 years experience in developing system software and language technology solutions. Rajeev founded Image Point in 2002 to create products and technologies in software localization and document management. The entity was known as Image Point back then and Rajeev has been instrumental in driving Image Point to make it most preferred vendor for language localization in India. Before turning entrepreneur, Rajeev worked with C-DAC for nine years where he architected several e-governance projects.
Image Point became LinguaNext only in 2010 when Jagdish Sahasrabudhe joined the company as the COO and took the company beyond Indian shores. Jagdish had been with SAP for over 16 years and was instrumental in driving annual sales of $600 million for the entire portfolio of SAP solutions. His last role with SAP was as VP Solutions Architects. He has been instrumental in achieving the SAP EBS Partnership for LinguaNext.
What do they do?
While enterprises were always the customer base, the big fillip came for LinguaNext when core banking started taking roots in India. Around 2005, RBI passed a mandate that rural and semi-rural branches of the bank should be on the core banking platform. As a result the banks in these areas needed local language capabilities and business could not be conducted only in English. Rajeev spotted this opportunity, pitched to the banks and rest is history.
He met Jagdish in a social event and when they started talking they discovered the common ground between them. “What Rajeev was doing only for core banking in India had the potential to be taken beyond into ERP, manufacturing, CRM and many other places. Plus the same language needs was applicable outside India,” recalls Jagdish. Image Point was merged with LinguaNext to form a larger company.
The core banking wave proved to be the biggest turning point for the company and since then LinguaNext has grown from strength to strength. Today, the organization has over 100 employees spread across India, Japan, Singapore and the US. The company is headquartered in Pune and has subsidiary offices in other countries.
LinguaNext employee force comprises a majority of engineering staff – about 75-80% of the workforce. The company is very focused on R&D and technology, with Rajeev leading their product development efforts.
LinguaNext has been growing at the rate of 50% year-on-year and today works with 250 companies – both big and small – across the world.
Talking about the product, Jagdish explains that the LinguaNext technology is most useful for producing the output in a local language. So it can be either printing the passbook in Hindi or getting an invoice printed in local language. “Though at this point the customer is not directly interacting with our software, they are the final beneficiaries of it,” says Jagdish.
The input, therefore, can be in any language, and on the native platform sits the LinguaNext button which can help convert the interface into the desired language of the operator. “Most screens today in banking, ERP, CRM or manufacturing companies have now moved from data entry to clicking options either through radio buttons or check boxes,” says Jagdish. As a result all the operator has to do is choose the language option and get the output in the desired language.
The LinguaNext product sits as a layer between the core software and the output. At present, Jagdish says the only competition is if companies like Oracle or SAP decide to develop the language layer. Their existing partnership with SAP is helping LingaNext reach out to businesses that SAP is servicing and talks are on to partner with other companies who supply enterprise software.
While there is still a lot of ground to cover on the enterprise software end, Linguanext is also looking to working with app developers and OEM manufacturers to explore the mobile and customer end of the business. “From product perspective, we will grow on the mobility and server side of the market. Ours is a patent pending technology and language management platform, which rides on users PC or mobile or Cloud. There is a primary need for languages as customers are being reached out via mobiles, internet or self service. In earlier days, applications were used by companies, banks, etc, but now more and more consumers are directly dealing with software. We feel that this trend of consumers using apps will see the consumers demanding local language capabilities. If one provider is not giving local language options, they may go to another service provider who gives the option. I think that is where the world will enter, the signs are very clear. Except for the US and UK, businesses elsewhere do not operate only in English and users on the streets do not speak in English. More than 80% of the world’s economy runs in local languages and we feel large enterprises should provide their services in local languages as well if they want to reach the final consumers,” summarizes Jagdish.
Also read : Reverie Technologies, another startup betting on languages