Is the US a leader in mobile technology? How has mobile changed SAIC’s business strategy? How did SAIC bring a tailored language translations to market?
WashingtonExec had the opportunity to ask these questions to Jonathan Litchman, Senior Vice President of SAIC’s Linguistics and Cultural Intelligence Division. Litchman spearheaded SAIC’s newest commercial language service, a hybrid machine translation technology (HMT), now available for commercial use.
Read more about the technology here.
WashingtonExec: Could you please tell us a little bit about your role at SAIC?
Jonathan Litchman: Currently I have the pleasure of leading SAIC’s Linguistic and Cultural Intelligence Organization. We focus largely on end-to-end language services, both technology and human, for government and commercial customers. I really was led to SAIC sort of by accident. While in graduate school I was looking to supplement a stipend with part time work. I was fortunate to know somebody who worked at SAIC. I found myself here and haven’t left, it’s been great.
WashingtonExec: How does this product work? How did mobility influence its construction?
Jonathan Litchman: We really have three products- Omnifluent Translate, Omnifluent Media, and Omnifluent Talk. Omnifluent Translate automatically translates text and audio files. Omnifluent Media provides automated closed captioning and subtitling and also produces rich metadata that supports media monitoring and analytics across 30 languages, 12 with voice. Omnifluent Talk offers developers the ability to leverage our text and speech translation technology. Omnifluent is really a flexible suite of features that are available both for applications that we develop in house and for third-party application developers, including mobile translation applications, a few of which we have already developed ourselves. There are many businesses and activities requiring cross-lingual communication, which are really best suited for the mobile devices because it’s with you everywhere you go.
WashingtonExec: How has mobility changed your business?
Jonathan Litchman: As people are becoming more mobile, they are doing more of their personal and business processing and information sharing on mobile devices. The nature of international commerce, international business and communications across cultures is traveling as fast as people are. The devices themselves become an incredibly important tool to make sure that you can communicate. No longer do you have the time to decide what you need, how you need to communicate it, and then get a person involved who speaks both languages. Now you are out and about and you need to communicate as fast as you are moving.
WashingtonExec: SAIC is a federal contractor but who is this product for exactly? Who is your target audience or clientele?
Jonathan Litchman: We obviously work with the federal government, but in terms of the technology, and particularly mobility, we’ve worked in media with both US based and internationally based media outlets. In healthcare, we’ve developed mobile applications that are being used right now in Department of Health clinics so that medical professionals can communicate with patients even if they don’t speak the same language.
We also have retail customers that use our technology to communicate store operations and back office activities from one country to another that don’t speak the same language. We also have legal customers with huge amounts of audio and text documents in need of translation and translation.
WashingtonExec: Do you believe the US is a leader in mobility?
Jonathan Litchman: I absolutely believe the US is a leader in mobility. If you looked back ten years ago the leading mobile operating systems were not from the US. Now the US is THE leader in all of the basic operating system capabilities of mobile solutions such as Android and iOS. US companies are really leading in terms of the innovation for smart phones, tablets and all of the bases of mobility. If you think about mobile commerce, whether it is Amazon or others, these kinds of concepts have been innovated and are being led successfully by US based companies.
WashingtonExec: You mentioned that you worked for SAIC in different capacities. How would you describe your leadership style and do you think it has changed throughout the years?
Jonathan Litchman: I think of my leadership style as really revolving around change. I’ve had the great fortune of being a part of two acquisitions that have come into organizations that I’ve led. It’s always challenging to some degree to build trust and relationships with the people who are merging and integrating with our team. They are not losing who they were, but they are actually gaining capabilities. For the organization that they are coming into, its important to recognize that we also are gaining something that’s different. It’s the notion of addressing change head-on, but doing it in a way that allows people to adapt in a positive and comfortable way.
WashingtonExec: What is something that people might not know about you?
Jonathan Litchman: I would say most people don’t know that when I was younger I trained to be a competitive freestyle skier before it was known as an extreme sport.