October 14, 2020

Lost in Translation: Archaeology Lessons for 21st Century Businesses

Article

History Lessons

On July 19th 1799, a French soldier discovered a black slab inscribed with ancient writing in the town of Rosetta, Egypt, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign. Marked with Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Egyptian Demotic Glyphs (the native Egyptian script at the time of Alexander the Great’s reign), and Ancient Greek Characters, the etchings on the stone are, essentially, the same decree written in three languages. This had massive implications for ancient historians, academics, and scholars, as ancient Egyptian had theretofore been a lost language – symbols devoid of any meaning that a contemporary person could understand. It opened up an entire world of academic study and drove massive scientific advancements in the archaeological field. Since then, the Rosetta Stone has been a symbol of translation and understanding.

Unlike Egyptologists, archaeologists studying the Ancient Indus Valley civilization haven’t had as much luck. For them, the mysteries of the glyphs of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro remain elusive. There is no concrete linguistic tie between those glyphs and the languages currently spoken in Northwestern India and Eastern Pakistan. The known presence of these glyphs, without a clear path to deciphering them, has bedeviled academics and historians for nearly 100 years.

To Understand & Be Understood

There are parallels in the limitations that both academic researchers and businesspeople face. That struggle that both bankers and archaeologists can empathize with is the need to understand, and to be understood. All of the information in the world is useless, and in a sense lost, if there is no one around who understands what it means. And so, as it relates to achieving desired outcomes in their respective fields, both scholars and businesspeople place a great level of importance on having the tools they need to acquire that level of understanding.

It goes without saying that every business functioning in the 21st century (whether B2B or B2C) faces the demands of the 21st century. Paramount among those demands are efficiency, accuracy, excellence in customer service, and a net positive return on investment. Modern business banking customers want these things. Merchant service customers want these things. Whether or not they end up choosing to go to banks for these services depends entirely on the level of service those banks can provide.

Banks, businesses and customers can only provide relationships of value to one another when they make mutual understanding a priority. Sometimes, when multiple third parties and disparate systems are involved, things can get lost in translation. This makes it all the more important that devices be in place that cut down on complexity & increase understanding of complicated business processes. Without systems of translation, banks & businesses lose out developing valuable relationships & reciprocal understanding with one another. If there’s a lesson to be learned from our archaeological parallel, it’s this: find your business’s version of the Rosetta Stone, or be lost without it.