One of my personal gems from the FIT XIX World Congress, is Nataly Kelly’s presentation about market trends in the translation industry. Nataly works for the Common Sense Advisory, performing research in the translation and localization industry. Here is what I learned from her.
The good news is that the market for outsourced language services is growing and it is currently worth over $31 billion. The total growth last year was 7.4%, but the growth in the US was 26% and in Sweden it was even 30%. Language Service Companies that were pro-technology grew more than those who were not. The fastest growing services in this sector were translation, interpreting and multimedia localization.
The bad news was that the prices are dropping. There is a low cost competition among language service providers. However for more mature buyers on the market, quality still matters more. We are still at the end of the supply chain, but we can out-market, out-sell and out-perform the low cost competition.
Nataly also discussed two hot topics in the business, crowdsourcing and machine translation.
The reasons companies use crowdsourcing are speed and quality. The people who choose crowdsourcing are often not the same as the ones who buy localization and translation services, and the people who are willing to work for free are mostly not translators, but bilinguals with subject matter expertise. Crowdsourcing can also be a good thing, for example when it is cause-driven, such as the response to the earthquakes in Haiti. Translators can make money from crowdsourcing by working with community moderation, editing, review, validation, terminology management or project management.
Currently, machine translation is used for search and discovery, support, collaboration and for productivity reasons. Of the surveyed language service providers, 26% were planning on using it. Machine is mostly used for speed. The way we communicate is changing and becoming faster and the need for faster translations is the result. The more translators know about machine translation, the more work we will have, according to Nataly.
The conclusion of the presentation was that the industry is not only growing, but evolving. A mental shift is needed from “doing more of the same old translation work” to doing things differently to get more translation done better and faster”. The ability to transform information is an even greater power than the power of information.