A Look at the Translation Industry in 2014

Editor's Note: this is a guest post by Peter Argondizzo. Peter is the founder of Argo Translation, a Chicago-based Translation agency providing specialized language translation services for industries ranging from healthcare to financial and everything in between. His is the second in a series of posts sharing predictions for IT in 2014. Join the conversation on Twitter: #PredictIT

P1000315You may not be aware of this, but the the language services industry – which encompasses interpreting, translation, localization, and the accompanying technologies – is worth $34 billion globally and continues to grow at 5.13%, according to the latest market size estimates from Common Sense Advisory. The demand for language services and technology continues to increase and growth rates will continue to grow in the coming years.

So, what can we expect from this fast growing industry in 2014? Well, first off, the translation industry will finally realize that Machine Translation is only as effective as the human translation that feeds the engine. The focus will return to maximizing the reuse and proper storage and categorization of human translation.

In the last decade, our industry has focused on how to drive the cost of translation down by using Machine Translation (MT). Clients and some industry professionals have tried to use this technology to create customer-facing translation. This is a big mistake. Would you let a computer create the content for information you distribute to customers here in the United States? Doubtful. However, the advances in technology do serve a purpose, we have been using MT for low-risk translation like market research, patent research and competitive research in languages other than English. The key need we have addressed with MT is helping customers with huge volumes of content that are not even necessarily valuable content.

For example, one of our clients had a project surveying customers all over the world to gauge their feelings about a product launch. The result was a huge volume of open-ended answers - some valuable and some not. In essence, we needed to separate the wheat from the chaff. Once we help the client determine what is the wheat or the high value portions of the content, we then provide the human translation.

When we run this process, we first use our massive Translation Memory database made up of 100% human translation against the project and MT only handles the untranslated content in a second pass. Ultimately, the quality of the translation rests on how much material comes from human translation vs. pure machine translation. Our focus has been on creating a translation environment where human translators can collaborate on large projects to drive down the cost and time required for translation while maintaining the same level of quality. The ability to reuse translation across large distributed teams project after project has been key.

In 2014 customers will also begin to focus on speed of delivery and will look to translation providers for relevant data and reports on the effectiveness of translation memory and how it impacts the translation process. Providers will be required to create secure customer focused clouds using platforms like Box that house projects and reports for easy access on various devices.

Translation Memory technology has been around for over two decades, most everyone in our industry uses the technology but the level of transparency in reporting the benefits and savings to customers is a key point of differentiation. Customers will come to expect proper reporting of translation memory utilization in clear and concise reports. Cloud technology will be used in our industry to provide clients with secure archives of all of their projects as well as the storage of reports at the project level as well as quarterly and annual spending will be required.