I have worked in the globalization and localization industry for nearly 15 years, nine of those with my current company, and we have seen some big changes over the past couple of decades. We’re in the midst of one of the most revolutionary times in our industry, witnessing a shift from a myopic view of transactional translated content, whether marketing, user interface or technical manuals, to language service providers (LSPs) delivering business solutions that serve all the “stops” on the global journey. Solution selling has been part of the industry for many years, but LSPs now have the resources to address the broader scope. Whether it be through acquisition or maturation of the industry, buyers of language services in any industry no longer have to work with multiple providers to cover the many different global services needs on their globalization journey.
Global language solution providers must service multiple stops on the global journey — from filing a patent application right through to software testing and driving global digital marketing campaigns. Moving away from content and becoming entrenched in a customer’s business and global brand is the evolution. LSPs are becoming an extension of their clients. Many of the stops along the journey don’t have anything to do with translation. We’re not just delivering translation or pure language services anymore. A global digital marketing campaign with targeted search engine optimization activity goes through transcreation. The testing of a localized software product requires engineering skills and an in-depth understanding of a client’s product and brand, not just linguistic skills. Application programming interfaces that ensure streamlined workflow across technology tools may process translations, but the skills required from LSPs no longer reside only in translation. Our industry is moving beyond content and the original niche of linguistics and translation. LSPs that will succeed in delivering world-class solutions will service clients across the board, at all the stops, with forward-thinking solution selling and an innovative value approach.
The globalization and localization industry is a consolidating and maturing industry. In May 2010, Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research) calculated that the market for outsourced language services was worth $26.327 billion. Last year, CSA valued the market at $40.27 billion, nearly doubling in six years. Some of this consolidation is driven by acquisition, enabling the delivery of solutions across many stops on the journey. In 2016, Welocalize acquired Spanish-based NOVA and Californian-based Global Language Solutions (GLS). These acquisitions pointedly look to grow solutions into life sciences, healthcare, legal, regulatory and compliance. This year we continued to see further consolidation in the life sciences industry when RWS acquired LUZ, a company with its roots firmly in life sciences and the medical device sector. In May 2017, AMPLEXOR, number nine on CSA Research’s 2016 list of largest LSPs, acquired US-based Sajan to increase its presence in North America.
To better serve clients, it is an intelligent move for global LSPs to gain entry to specialist areas like life sciences and legal. It completes the full life cycle — the global journey — of bringing products and services to global markets. Our continued growth and expansion mean we are better positioned to mirror the industries we serve.
As we progress and continue to mature and consolidate, the industry will become driven more by managed service providers and less by language service providers. It’s about creating the ultimate customer experience at a global and local level and that will transcend translation and content.