I recently had the honor to interview a friend and specialist in the translation industry in Sweden, Anne-Marie Colliander Lind. She has worked in the translation industry since 1989 and is now running her own consultancy business, Inkrea.se. Here is the translation of my interview with her, and the original interview in Swedish can be found here.
What does the translation industry look like in Sweden today?
The translation industry in Sweden is very fragmented, just like in the rest of the world. We have some really large companies that dominate the industry and supply translation services to both the public and private sector in most subject areas, and then we have a large group of small to medium sized companies with more or less specialized services. The Nordic countries have great spending power and it is no coincidence that there are no less than eight Nordic companies on the list of the 50 largest translation companies from 2011 (according to Common Sense Advisory).
Do you see any trends?
More and more customer relations are established by public tenders. This concerns primarily the public sector, which is governed by LOU (a Swedish law for public tenders), but we also see this for customers from the private sector. Businesses and institutions are increasingly looking for a partner that can offer a long term, close relationship, with integrated working methods, rather than aimlessly searching for a translation provider in the Yellow Pages. I see this as a sign of maturity. When it comes to price trends, the price to the end customer has decreased a bit, mainly due to the strong competition in the buying processes, and the price pressure naturally affects the price per unit for the subcontractors. It is interesting to see that for 20 years, the prices were higher the further away from Sweden you went (Japanese, Chinese, Korean etc.) but today it is the opposite, the most expensive languages to buy are the languages spoken for example in our neighbor country Norway, into and from English.
Who buys translation services the most?
In Sweden, the Swedish state is among the largest buyers of translation services. There is a constant demand for translation from Swedish authorities, thanks to, for example, Sweden’s generous immigration policy. Examples of authorities are the Swedish Migration Board, The Swedish Tax Authority, the Police and the Swedish Social Security Agency. Many of the Swedish translation companies receive a large part of their income from contracts with Swedish authorities. The EU Commission is also a big buyer of translations and provides many Swedish suppliers with large translation volumes. In the Swedish economy large international companies are dependent on multilingualism and we can mention several brands with documentation and websites in more than 50 languages, in order to be competitive internationally. Here, the demand is driven by separate marketing strategies for globalization or by legislation.
Stay tuned for part two soon.