Inventory Tracking Application for Small Business Operations; Exploring the Impact of Neural Machine Translation Technology on Businesses

Gampa, Dhriti, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Forelle, MC, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Morrison, Briana, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Effective communication is vital in business, and its absence often leads to failures. Both by my STS research project and technical capstone are centered on improving communication within businesses. The technical project focuses on designing a system to tackle communication challenges in multilingual work environments, while the STS research delves into the role of technology, specifically machine translation, in enhancing business communication.
My capstone project addresses communication and organizational hurdles in a small business specializing in authentic Indian sweets and snacks, exacerbated by a multilingual workforce. The proposed solution involves an inventory tracking application leveraging barcode scanning and real-time updates for efficient inventory management. Developed for iOS devices, the application facilitates seamless inventory updates for workers via barcode scans, while managers gain oversight and restocking notifications. Employing technologies such as Apple Developer’s VisionKit and Firebase, the application aims to streamline processes, reducing reliance on error-prone manual communication methods. Initial testing demonstrated improved organization and efficiency, emphasizing user-friendly design and role-based access for effective communication between employees and managers. Future work entails wider deployment, rigorous testing, and potential enhancements like receipt scanning for automated updates, ultimately supporting business growth by optimizing inventory management.
While identifying key problems at the business that impacted effective production I used a handheld translation device. The device recognized my speech in English and quickly translated what I was saying to the Spanish speaking workers. I found that this device was an integral role of implementing better communications because it allowed all workers to contribute ideas and foster an efficient environment where workers felt heard. Therefore, I choose to take a closer look at machine translation as a way to bridge language barriers.
My STS research delves into the integration of machine translation technology into society and its implications for various stakeholders. The literature review meticulously examines the intersection of language barriers, workplace communication, and the evolving landscape of machine translation. It analyzes barriers faced by Hispanic workers in low-wage sectors and explores the historical evolution of machine translation and its parallels with human translation roles. The literature analyzes introduces the potential of machine translation to alleviate challenges due to language barriers in the workplace.
By utilizing Actor Network Theory (ANT), my paper seeks to understand the intricate interplay between human and non-human actors in the realm of NMT adoption and implementation within organizational settings. Through a survey of academic journals my research analyzes the interactions between different actors, including end-users, machine translation devices, human translators, and business managers to uncover underlying narratives and trends shaping perceptions of NMT technology. Throughout my STS section I argue that understanding machine translation as an individual entity reveals disparate goals among stakeholders, leading to challenges in integration. I work to highlight both the strength and weaknesses of machine translation. I strongly affirm the belief that successful integration hinges on effective communication between technology and users, aligning goals for mutual growth. I shed light on the evolving role of human translators in refining machine-generated translations and advocates for a collaborative approach that leverages the strengths of both human expertise and technological innovation.
In expanding upon the technical project, it's crucial to delve into the intricacies of system design and implementation. The challenges of developing a solution for a multilingual workforce extend beyond mere technological hurdles; they encompass cultural and linguistic nuances that demand careful consideration. Therefore, discussing the iterative development process, including user feedback loops and refinement cycles, provides insight into the project's evolution and adaptation to real-world requirements. By completing my STS research project I was able to value the input of all workers. I hope to continue interacting with the Spanish-speaking workers to maintain the productivity of the business.
Additionally, considering the ethical implications of technology adoption, such as job displacement and cultural hegemony, adds depth to the discussion and invites critical reflection on the societal ramifications of innovation. Engaging with interdisciplinary perspectives, including sociology, linguistics, and anthropology, enriches the discourse surrounding technology-mediated communication and fosters a holistic understanding of its implications. By working at a business with a multilingual workforce I was able to better identify a group of actors I chose to analyze when discussing the implementation of a new technology.
In conclusion, both the capstone project and STS research endeavor contribute to understanding effective communication strategies and the role of technology in facilitating them. By exploring the practical challenges of system design and the theoretical underpinnings of technology adoption, these projects offer complementary insights into the complex dynamics of business communication. Ultimately, I was able to further explore possible improvements to business communications that leverage the current technology and existing societal roles.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
language barriers, neural machine translation, actor-network theory

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Technical Advisor: Briana Morrison

STS Advisor: MC Forelle

Technical Team Members: Dhriti Gampa

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: