One of the most important events on the calendar for the technical communication industry is the annual tcworld China events, taking place in Shanghai in May every year, this year on May 15-16. CSOFT’s Director of Global Communications, Joshua Hughman, will be speaking at tcworld China for the second consecutive year, this time on how mainland companies can successfully manage intercultural teams with Western members, a crucial topic for Chinese corporations expanding operations abroad.
An established company in the west, tcworld has been holding conferences in Asian countries like China and India these past few years. We sat down with Executive Director, Michael Fritz, to learn more about the brand, the events, and the future of technical communication in China.
So Michael, what was your vision for tcworld when you first started off?
With tcworld China, we wanted to create a platform where Chinese professionals in the field of Technical Communication could meet renowned international experts from the field, learn about the basics and the latest trends, meet other technical writers, and extend their professional network.
And what makes tcworld China special? How does it differ from other tcworld events, especially for Asia?
The professional field of Technical Communication has been emerging very quickly in China throughout the last few years. With initiatives like “Belt and Road” and “China 2025”, a big push can be felt towards more quality and professionalism of information for use, up to the highest standards in the world.
Absolutely! We ourselves have seen quite a big difference in our work with many of China’s technical writing teams over the last few years. So overall, what do you think of technical communication in China? Any thoughts on what the future looks like?
Currently the picture is very diverse. We find companies that are already on top seriously considering their technical communications strategy. But we see also a lot of firms that are yet to recognize the importance of efficient and effective information for use. These companies are still facing competitive disadvantages and they might even run into economic and compliance problems as soon as they compete on the international level. Therefore there will be a huge demand in China in the coming years for qualified expert staff (technical writers, documentation specialists, information architects, etc.), competent consultancy services, and up-to-date specialized software products for the development of information for use.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for this sector in China?
I see a double challenge for technical communication in China. On one hand, there is still a lack of basic competencies and knowledge, and on the other hand, the adoption of standards, skills, and software tools for the creation of intelligent information.
What can we expect for tcworld China 2018? What are you most excited about this year?
We are most excited that we will be welcoming Professor Hans Uszkoreit, one of the most experienced and renowned experts in artificial intelligence worldwide, as a keynote speaker and Dr. Feiyu Xu, vice president of Lenovo Group and the head of AI lab at Lenovo research. Amongst our participants we have technical communication experts from companies like Huawei, ZTE, SAP, Eaton, Amazon, Alibaba, SIEMENS, Roche Diagnostics, WuXi AppTec, QuantumCTek, Zuora, Dräger, ARM, HollySys, Illumina, Yeastar, Elekta, Rockwell, Epiroc, Danfoss, Deheshuntian, Lianfa, CSOFT, etc.
We noticed that this year even more Chinese companies are sending their staff to the event.
Indeed, it really is shaping up to be a great event this year. And finally, the role of artificial intelligence in technical communications is a big theme for this year’s event. How do you wish to see this topic addressed across industries? Any misconceptions you’re tired of hearing?
“AI” is overrated if someone thinks that the “intelligence” of software can replace human genius. Nevertheless, any software that is capable of learning is “real AI” (all rules-based software is not). In technical communication, “real AI” will, first, be especially useful for the analyses and the “tagging” of contents with semantic metadata, thus making these contents better searchable, (re)usable, and so forth. Second, “real AI” will help in translating natural human communication (language, speech, gestures, mimic etc.) into machine language at the man-machine-interface, thus enabling completely new information scenarios. One example is the chatbots that use written inputs or speech recognition, the other is neural machine translation which is really better than the rules-based and statistic versions of MT which we saw before.
As a key player in the Chinese technical communications industry, especially for the Chinese market, CSOFT is a firm believer in the power of technology to transform the delivery of services and quality of communication around the world.
tcworld China will be held from May 15-16 in Shanghai, with highly-anticipated keynote speeches from top experts in AI. For more information, visit the tcworld China 2018 website.