Language Services Forecast: 2017

Language Service forecast

What can we expect to see in the Language Services industry in 2017? A personal favorite phrase of mine is “the only thing constant, is change” and I don’t expect that to be any different in 2017! So if you were hoping things might calm down a little, I think now that we find ourselves in the high-tech age, life and change will only get faster!  Here are a few things I think you can expect to see in 2017.

Increased interest from private firms in Language Service Providers – Lionbridge’s sale to HIG Capital makes it part of a growing group of LSPs owned by private equity firms including the likes of Semantix, Welocalize, AAC Global, and Moravia. Lionbridge’s CEO, Rory Cowan, said that “the US markets really do not appreciate the translation industry.”

Asia to be the strongest growth area – A continued expansion from many companies into Asian markets is likely to continue the current trend of the Asian markets being the high growth area. Uncertainty over the future of the United Kingdom in Europe and what that might mean for the rest of the European Union, as well as uncertainty over what America will be like under President Trump, is only likely to increase the appeal of Asia.

An industry in high demand – Despite the doom and gloom that seems to surround economic forecasts in many sectors, the reality for the Language Services industry is that it has every reason to be optimistic. Globalization and ever-increasing levels of immigration will keep the industry in high demand, even if it isn’t always easy to predict precisely which skills or languages might be in highest demand.  The translation industry has continued to experience growth since 2008 despite worldwide economic instability and I see no sign of that changing in 2017.

More improvement in machine translation – Technology in machine translation and computer-assisted translation software will continue to move at the pace this year, helping to drive better translation services and improve efficiency. The motivation to invest in this arena remains high with improved machine translation offering translators faster and more reliable translations and companies using the technology for more efficiency meaning that they pay less for the same amount of work. This, in turn, means that the client can pay less, while the language service provider can protect their profit and the ever-increasing volumes of work mean the translator still keeps employment.  It’s a rare case of win: win: win which is sure to keep driving innovations in the area.

More performance measures and quality tracking – In 2016, we saw the early stages of growing interest in more formal quality measures for the translation industry to demonstrate the level of service that a provider is able to offer. The advent of ISO 17100 and the increasingly discerning client is likely to fuel this desire to differentiate the quality of the translations done in some tangible way.

Increasing formality around project management processes – To some extent, this is linked to the increasing professionalism of the Language Services industry. However, the industry is needing to rely increasingly heavily on its ability to build and maintain relationships with it clients. This means getting to understand the industries that they work in and building long-burn projects rather than relying on the quick-turnaround work that was the bread and butter of historical translation work.  Getting a grip of proper Project Management is key to managing these client relationships effectively so expect to see lots more in this space.

What do you think will be making waves in the language industry in 2017?  We’d be interested to hear your views.

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