How Language Service Providers can turn localization trends to their advantage

Joe Campbell 30 Jan 2024 7 mins read
An introduction to translation collaboration
Language Service Providers (LSPs) have enjoyed high market growth over the last few years. Between 2020 and 2022, the global industry grew by a huge 11.75% to $26.6bn. It is currently growing by 7% year-on-year, according to Nimdzi.
 
That increase in demand has introduced some new challenges for LSPs to navigate. Client demand is up – which is great news from a commercial point of view. But their expectations and requirements have increased too.
 
Localization projects are growing in scope and scale, as we detailed in our Translation Technology Insights 2023 report. We expect this increased volume of work to continue exponentially, due to customers’ more rapid creation of content, and desire to translate more of it. Further, customers want content to be contextualized with regional-level nuances, inclusive language and cultural insights and expect brand messaging in their local language, as highlighted in our Global Understanding. Unlocked. report. We’ve seen evidence of this internally; as an LSP we’ve received more requests for translation into long-tail languages (languages with small overall demand relative to the most popular target languages). In fact, over the past three years we’ve seen close to a 20% increase and today support over 200 languages, of which 45 are classed as common languages. 
 
But these growing demands don’t come with an equivalent growth of spend: Your clients are under pressure to stretch budgets further, and expect suppliers to find ways to deliver.  
 
LSPs who rise to this challenge will cement their position at the forefront of one of the world’s fastest growing and operationally critical markets.  
 
Fortunately, the latest translation technology offers the industry significant productivity gains. These capabilities turn this significant increase in demand into a great opportunity for LSPs to help their customers work towards the goal of translating everything – while presenting themselves as mature market leaders too.
 
Here are three key opportunities LSPs can’t afford to overlook: 

1) Generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) 

Machine Translation (MT) is a well-established form of AI. Since it first appeared on the horizon, it has advanced hugely, and been embraced by the localization industry, which is more efficient as a result. But today, Generative AI has joined the scene and has opened up an unlimited number of possibilities. AI is set to rock the world of translation and it offers LSPs a great opportunity for competitive advantage if they leverage it in the right way throughout the translation process.
 
Linguistic AI seems set to offer further leaps in translation productivity. For some examples of this, you can find AI-based enhancements within the latest version of Trados:
  • Generative Translation: Translation engines, a core feature of our cloud platform since its inception, effortlessly combine translation memories, glossaries and machine translation services into a unified repository of linguistic assets to provide high-quality translation results. Now, thanks to Linguistic AI, we can significantly enhance these translation engines to offer Generative Translation, synergizing your established linguistic data with the power of an LLM. By configuring additional factors within the translation engines, such as historical segment translations and preferred translation style (formal, informal, etc.), you'll obtain superior translation quality reducing the need for post-editing.
  • Smart Help: Another application of Linguistic AI in Trados is to provide assistance on demand. Accessed through Trados Copilot, Smart Help swiftly and effortlessly assists you in finding solutions to your queries. Trados Copilot will use Linguistic AI to analyze questions, interpret the meaning, find the most appropriate results and provide direct links to the relevant documentation. This makes your translators more self-sufficient in their day-to-day translation work, even if they are relatively unfamiliar with using Trados.
  • Further, our OpenAI Translator app brings Large Language Models to Trados Studio, helping you to refine your work by, for example, applying the appropriate tone or removing gender bias, and can help you tackle a wider range of linguistic challenges, ultimately elevating the overall quality of your translations.  You can download this app today from the RWS AppStore.
You can read more about new Trados AI capabilities here.
 
The efficiency gains you receive by leveraging AI and LLMs throughout the localization process should not be undervalued. However, just like with NMT, it's important to recognize that AI isn’t here to replace your human translators and project managers. It’s at its most powerful when embedded into human workflows, used to augment human expertise, and helps experts spend less time on routine localization tasks.  
 
Today, the way you apply AI and LLMs to enhance localization is one of your biggest competitive differentiators. AI enables you to work at the speed and scale that today’s clients demand, without sacrificing quality. 

2) Cloud-first working 

Cloud technology has fundamentally transformed the localization industry. It’s democratized access to powerful translation capabilities, changed how work is acquired and managed, and enables LSPs to collaborate with the best freelance translators in the world for each project. Using cloud software also means not having to deploy infrastructure or updates. Trados, for example, is updated many times a day meaning you’ll always be working with the latest technology. 
 
Because cloud solutions are so easy to roll out and access, and (as we mentioned earlier) MT quality has improved so much, we’ve recently seen a new trend emerge: cloud-based translation review by subject matter experts (SMEs) who are not themselves translation professionals. The idea behind this ‘SME as post-editor’ model is that translation quality is now good enough that it’s more a terminology review than a full post-editing job which traditionally would have required a translator. 
 
While this trend may be interpreted as a threat for some, we see a great opportunity here for LSPs to offer a new service and help businesses that want to employ this model, but don’t have the in-house expertise or resources to do so effectively. Technology will still play a pivotal role in facilitating this process. Somebody therefore needs to organize the SME-only workflow, create templates, organize TMs, oversee MT/AI finetuning, develop prompts or train SMEs in prompt engineering, and generally offer the appropriate level of support, for example.

3) Connected, collaborative ecosystem 

With close to 1,000 localization technology tools on the market, choosing a technology provider that can extend and connect to your customers’ content platforms has never been more important.   
 
As the “middlemen” between corporate customers and freelance translators, you have the most to gain from technology that works well with others. Because, unless you’re working with a customer mature enough to have their own translation technology, it’s your ecosystem that all of your customers will inhabit. Ensuring all workflows are integrated will help you to avoid time-consuming manual processes, reduces the time needed to get content ready for localization, and streamlines the overall translation process.  
 
New translation technologies are being developed all the time; it’s therefore imperative you choose a technology partner that is adaptable, keeps up with current industry demands, and enables their users to build their own integrations. In this spirit, our vision for Trados is to be the backbone for the translation industry, supporting and connecting the combination of systems that each business or individual wants to work with. All Trados products are built on the same platform making it easy for LSPs to connect to and work with others within the translation supply chain. We have good availability of APIs and connectors, enabling you to extend and connect to other translation technologies, plus we have an AppStore, enabling you to download and personalize your translation technology to suit your unique business needs. 
 

Download: 9 trends – old and new – shaping localization

Learn more about the trends effecting the localization industry and what they mean for you in our eBook.
Get in touch
Nicole Loney
Author

Joe Campbell

LSP Marketing Manager
Joe supports the LSP (Language Service Provider) market in leveraging the advantages of translation technology. Joe has 20 years' experience in science and technology communications.
All from Joe Campbell