The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), an international trade group for language services providers (LSP) and their clients, has released its fourth quarter (Q4) 2020 pulse survey. Starting during the first quarter of 2020, GALA has surveyed LSPs every three months to provide a quick moving look at industry conditions.
According to the Q4 report, business is up internationally, but only by a little. From October to December last year, 53 percent of surveyed LSPs saw a slight increase in customer demand while 15 percent said demand “increased dramatically.” Sixteen percent registered a decrease.
When it comes to translating this into an actual revenue increase, Q4 earnings were across the board:
- Increase of 30 percent or more: 7 percent
- Increase of 20 percent or more: 25 percent
- Increase of 10 percent or more: 34 percent
- Stayed more or less the same: 23 percent
- Decreased by 10 percent of more: 5 percent
- Decreased by 20 percent of more: 2 percent
- Decreased by 30 percent of more: 4 percent
According to the report, some of this variance may be geographically-based: “North and Latin America fared best, while Europe, Asia and Oceania reported higher loss in revenue.”
Size may have also impacted growth with LSPs that typically bill 5-10 million USD per year reporting a Q4 earnings bump. Of large LSP respondents — those annually billing more than 26 million USD — not a single one reported a revenue decrease. This is interesting considering more than one large LSP let employees go during the coronavirus pandemic. Between October and December last year, ten percent of all respondents — regardless of size — laid people off. Six percent reduced remaining employees’ salaries and 20 percent implemented a hiring freeze.
“As a whole,” writes Jessica DiPietro, author of the report, “we can see Q4 was the most prosperous quarter of 2020. But what does that mean in the context of mid-year losses?” When GALA started its pulse surveys first quarter last year, more than 300 LSPs responded. For the Q4 report, only 150 did. “What does it say that the number of those called to answer the survey has halved?,” DiPietro asks, “Who we aren’t hearing from could be an indicator of who remains.”