Skiwo helped kick off the Dagens Næringsliv gazelle conferences this week. The gazelle conferences are a collection of events and award ceremonies recognising the fastest growing companies across Norway.

Alongside speakers from DnB Markets, PwC and Dagens Næringsliv, our very own CEO, Gautam, challenged the audience on how many languages they speak.

Some people raised their hands when asked if they spoke German; many more raised their hands for Swedish; but no one spoke Arabic. And only a handful had ever been to China.img_3402

Yet many Norwegian businesses do operate internationally. The latest figures from Statistics Norway show that Norwegian companies control as many as 4,500 companies abroad. Most of these are still located in Europe, but the global markets are only increasing.

And even though machine translations are widely available, the audience did agree with Gautam that they would never sign a machine-translated contract. So while some may think language problems are a thing of the past in 2016, here at Skiwo we think we’ve only seen the beginning.

More Europeans would, for instance, probably go on business trips to China if they had a Mandarin interpreter at hand on their smartphone. And for companies welcoming more customers from abroad than ever before, language challenges are just as pressing.

Hilton Hotels is one of the companies recognising this. Just last year the hotel chain expanded its Chinese greeting programme, “Huanying”, to 110 hotels across the globe. “Huān yίng” roughly means “welcome” in Mandarin and includes Mandarin interpretation services at front desks to welcome Chinese guests.

The difference between a welcome in a language you understand and in one you don’t understand could make or break an entire business trip.

So what was the main lesson Gautam wanted the Norwegian gazelle companies to take home?

That even though we meet language barriers more often than ever before, meeting new people and cultures is a very rewarding experience – both personally and in the world of business. We only need the right tools to navigate the seemingly foggy waters of linguistic and cultural differences.

We at Skiwo couldn’t find those tools, so we made them instead. The marketplace for interpreters has for too long been outmoded and out-of-date, and so we decided to bring it into the 21st century. If you need seamless access to interpreters so you can expand your business internationally, sign up here today and connect with the world.

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