Introducing Translation Technology Insights: A Translation Technology Research Project

Having worked in business to business marketing all of my career, I know that getting accurate insights for an industry can be difficult. The translation industry is no exception. Of course there are market analysts and surveys are conducted, but the translation technology space, in particular, is not that well analysed.

In October last year, after attending a few conferences, and despite having 10 years in this industry, I realized that I can still be surprised by people’s needs and issues. There were certainly a couple of key questions that I wanted more scientific answers to!

Firstly, I felt it would have been good to have a better understanding of how the industry has changed, what the current trends are and what people could expect in the next few years. We are experiencing a particularly fluctuating time in translation technology with many existing technologies coming of age such as machine translation and the cloud, in addition to the development of new technologies.

To predict the future, it is sometimes worth looking back at the past. It dawned on me that translation, although an activity which has most likely taken place for several millennia, has only actually become an industry in relatively recent years.

It is only since the 1950s that globalization has started to take off; companies have become international, multinational and global, which has resulted in larger and larger volumes of content to translate. The digital content explosion of the last two decades has further compounded the rise in translation content.

But have things really changed in the last 50 years? Has translation moved forward and has technology evolved? The Common Sense Advisory created a localization maturity model for a localization company but, the question is, is the entire industry moving and becoming more ‘mature’?

Translation Technology Insights

With these two separate but related questions in mind, SDL set off to conduct one of the most comprehensive translation technology market research studies ever undertaken in the industry. We used a market research specialist to create a very comprehensive and carefully crafted questionnaire and help us consolidate and analyse the results.

As the market leader in translation technology, we have been able to gather 2784 responses from freelancers, corporations and translation agencies in 115 countries, giving us high confidence and statistically significant data.

The results have given us a number of very interesting insights into translation technology and the industry in general. We discovered 5 key insights which we will be sharing in the coming months:

  • The respondents told us that quality is not a given and it is the most important factor in translation
  • The survey told us that the way people are working is changing
  • We can see that productivity and speed remains a key area of focus in a shortening deadline world
  • Integration is a must for translation technology and systems are more connected to each other than ever before
  • Consumerization in the business world is driving higher expectations when it comes to user experiences.


Download the ‘Translation Technology Insights: Executive Summary’ eBook>>

Interestingly for me, it is the first time I have been able to get a quantifiable representation on whether the industry has matured in the last 5 years: the respondents have become, on average, more sophisticated in their use of technology and their approach to localization.

I found the statistics and results fascinating and I am really excited to be able to share all of these insights within the translation community.

We will be launching a series of eBooks in the next few months, starting with ‘Translation Technology Insights: Executive Summary’, which will discuss the findings in more depth. Additionally these eBooks will be supported by webinars presented by industry experts in the areas the insights focus on. Our Spring SDL Seminar Series have also started and are taking place in many cities across Europe, revealing some of the most interesting findings.

We have also developed a simple tool called the ‘Translation Technology Adoption Scale’ which can help you identify your own level of translation technology maturity and how you compare versus your peers.

I certainly found many of the stats and discoveries very insightful. I hope you will find our research interesting and useful for your business and hope you will join us online or in person to learn more about our discoveries.

If you are a freelancer and would like to see the results that matter to you, please visit our ‘Freelance Translator Technology Insights’ webpage>>

If you are a Language Service Provider and would like to see the results that matter to you, please visit our ‘LSP Translation Technology Insights’ webpage>>