Issues and Challenges for the Language Industry in the Mobile Marketplace

Challenges of Mobile market place

Within economically developed countries, it is easy to feel that the internet is everywhere because it is everywhere that we go. It is easy to forget that as of 2014, some 4.5 billion people on the planet remained unconnected to the internet, even though most of them lived in areas covered by 2G or 3G mobile access.* From the perspective of translation companies, this is highly relevant as if you are dealing with a language or culture that does not have the same access to the digital sphere, you will need to obviously give very careful consideration to this.

*”Value of connectivity” Deloitte and Facebook, 2014

 Emerging Market—Big Challenges, Big Rewards

There is usually a large digital divide between cities that are often connected and villages that are not in emerging market countries. However, this opens up the opportunity of “leapfrogging” legacy technologies. There is less developed fixed infrastructure, but this means that the public sector is very motivated to deliver infrastructure and services and will support any efforts to do so. There is also an obvious gap for the languages industry because of the need for local language digital services.

Translation Anywhere?

Translators are already a typically geographically disparate group. Although some work in offices, the majority are still freelancers who operate in a home office environment. This means that many will already be embracing mobile technology in order to do their jobs. They will be using smartphones to help them respond quickly to client inquiries, using laptops to work at home, in client offices and probably in coffee houses etc. As a task, though, translation typically requires focused concentration so I can’t envisage a sudden trend for translating while driving for example.

Prohibitive Costs

As many people working in the languages industry are freelancers, one of the challenges to an increasingly mobile marketplace is the cost of smart devices. Devices that are at the cutting edge will always be the most expensive, and investing in the most expensive kit is always going to be a risky strategy for the many who work as sole traders. There is obviously a significant risk taken when investing in new technology that it might not pay off, and if you are a freelancer, that sort of risk could be enough to financially sink you.

Getting App Happy

We have all seen the rise and rise of the app. There is an app for absolutely everything now. The obvious issue here for any industry is to stand out from the crowd and attract people to your app. The languages industry is no exception, so the key task is how to differentiate yourself without incurring exorbitant advertising costs. Also, ensuring that any app you may use can be used in all the countries that you operate in, and serves a clear purpose for your customers and/ or employees.

Social Media Savvy

Similar to the app, ignoring social media is simply not an option anymore. The modern Language Services Provider needs to understand social media and know what it wants to achieve from its social media presence. Which channels will it choose to be present on and why? Channels that you choose to overlook may say as much about a company as those that you promote yourselves on. The social media sphere moves incredibly fast and this is another significant challenge, to try and stayahead of any potentially damaging news item.

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