17 May /18

Challenges & Opportunities: The Changing Landscape of the Translation & Localisation Industry

Challenges & Opportunities: The Changing Landscape of the Translation & Localisation Industry
Challenges & Opportunities: The Changing Landscape of the Translation & Localisation Industry – EVS Translations

‘Localisation’ is the intention of translation and describes one part of a business internationalisation strategy. It is the art of translation innovatively combined with technology and content management strategies to fulfil global communication and information exchange. Experts from EVS Translations give their opinions about the significant challenges for Language Service Providers and how EVS Translations itself responds to the complex demands of global businesses.

Transformation of a niche ‘industry’

In the 1990s, a Language Service Provider could be a person sitting at home, outsourcing jobs to freelance translators. That is unthinkable now, when you consider how deeply technology is integrated into any credible localisation process. If you want to enter the translation & localisation industry, investment in a localisation tech stack is a prerequisite: a Translation Management System, a Quality Assurance platform, a Translation Memory System, a CRM tool, the list goes on. But technological innovation is a double-edged sword. While technology has created process efficiency and enhanced output quality, it also exerts a huge downward pressure on pricing. Innovation is key.

Edward Vick “The adage that the quality of yesterday is not good enough for today, let alone tomorrow is truer than ever. Digitalisation has resulted in huge improvements of all three factors driving the business – time, quality, speed.”

Emergence of key players

Today, mergers & acquisitions are deciding the big players of this industry, who can take full advantage of economies of scale. According to the latest report on the U.K. translation market, “The U.K. remains one of the top markets where investors remain interested in acquiring profitable language service companies” (Association of Translation Companies, 2017). Advertising giants are buying LSPs, LSPs are buying up advertising agencies and software companies, LSPs are eating up each other. It’s a race for domination in a maturing industry. Many of the small LSPs which exist today may not be here in 5 years’ time, their traditional business model rendered irrelevant.

AI solutions from Silicon Valley

Tech start-ups from California are also indirectly and directly shaping the industry. As businesses demand to communicate with consumers fluidly across multiple languages and multiple channels, cutting-edge AI solutions are breaking ground. Crowdsourcing platforms deliver quick and cost-effective translated content and machine intelligence is used to process massive amounts of content between languages. LSPs have long since adopted machine translation in their mainstream service offerings and many businesses are keen to explore its use. However, both LSPs and commercial users recognise its current limitations. For high-visibility content, it is simply wide-of-the-mark in its current capabilities and underperforms in certain languages. Nevertheless, the larger LSPs have prepared accordingly.

Jon Flathman: “Put in garbage, get out garbage. The future of high-quality translations is of course driven by AI intelligence, but underpinned by high-quality human translation. This is a great advantage for EVS Translations – it has millions of words in each language combination as a basis for translations.”

Translation performance comes under the corporate microscope

There are different KPIs for translation quality and there is too much content to approach all equally. ‘Quality’ depends on a business’ objectives or the intended outcome for content. For this reason, many corporations are making risk analyses to determine what quality downside and error level they can tolerate. And when a company commits to a robust translation strategy, the question of ROI arises. Spends are increasing and translation has to perform better than ever before. But it has to perform at the appropriate level. It has to be a strategic, added value solution as part of a company’s greater internationalisation strategy.

Data security

If ever there was ever a stumbling block for LSPs to compete, it is set to be data security. In an industry that sometimes suffers a reputation for ‘farming out content’, convincing buyers that their data is secure will be tough – that ‘old model’ of the Language Service Provider persists in the minds of potential buyers. The correct infrastructure and resources to deploy in this area create further demand for investment and management of data security must be both sophisticated and comprehensive. This will be one area to decide those who survive and those who don’t.

Dimitra Stamoulaki “New data protection regulations favour those few LSPs with large teams of in-house translators and back-office staff. Data maintained and processed in-house means fewer possibilities of data being compromised. This will have a huge and negative impact on the many translations companies who access thousands of freelancers”

EVS Translations has grown over the past 25 years in line with the demands of global businesses for effective multilingual communications and information exchange across international markets. Its own route to competitive advantage has been to grow and invest in its internal and globally connected teams. These comprehensive and function-specific teams allow for a greater service offering. They are more responsive, achieve greater control across all areas of production, and serve as a solid basis to pursue technical innovation.