Localization impressions around Europe: Is there a silver lining?

If you were to visit localization folks around Europe, what would be some of the undeniable recurring themes? With this question in mind, I set out to meet with a half a dozen industry leaders in the flesh this summer. For the past three weeks, I  traveled around Europe, talking with leaders to get a better pulse on EU localization industry trends. 

From Zurich to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris across the Italian border, the big push for innovation and technological advance in the localization industry continues. There were whispers of how blockchain technology will benefit translation management in the future. While there is a perpetual fascination with everything AI and automation, much of the day-to-day focus remains on the practical. 

Machine translation is gaining ground primarily in areas where translation was not attainable in the past. Think time-sensitive localization at volumes where human output is just not feasible.  

On both client and vendor side, localization leaders continue to look for ways to simplify and optimize with the help of new technologies. At Supertext, Lucas Maire showcased a new integration that allows customers to receive text-string translations almost instantaneously, further highlighting the continued need for speedy out-of-the-box solutions. Quick turnarounds are of high value, particularly in software development. 

Some localization outfits are also venturing outside of their traditional fields of activity and getting involved in more ground-breaking activities like natural language processing. Diego Cresceri spoke with passion about Creative AI’s efforts to improve, among other things, conversational AI solutions, and his effort to collect high-quality audio data. A year ago, he set out to help solve crowd-management issues and tech challenges with data for AI Services.

With many working in the language industry across Western Europe, some people have returned to work onsite, but many desks remain empty. It is virtually impossible to find an office in which employees have returned to their brick-and-mortar stations in majority numbers. People continue liking to work from home, and it is a trend that is, at least for now, lingering, with or without pandemic. 

Some companies are therefore actively pursuing efforts to reduce office size to leverage these smaller office real estate needs.  In return, working from home (WFH) is also giving employees much farther-reaching geographical flexibility. In Paris, for example, employees are now moving farther away from the city to avoid the sky-high rents of the inner metropolis. This is a trend that is replicated in some of the big American cities like New York and San Francisco. The WFH culture is also bringing along some new HR headaches. Companies are struggling with how to best address the changing needs. One industry leader even spoke of opening offices in a new location to accommodate the situation better. 

One of localization manager’s biggest challenges remains getting a seat at the C-suite table. While gaining influence horizontally has become easier in recent times, gaining visibility vertically is still a big challenge. It’s a lot easier to demonstrate value to marketing or product-development leaders within an organization because they can more easily experience the positive effects of our message personalization.  

Marco Hughes, localization manager at Cornerstone said: “Unfortunately, localization often still mainly remains a cost center to the C-suite, and evangelizing our value vertically requires climbing a much steeper hill. It’s a theme people like Miguel Sepulveda have reported on in the past as well. Localization managers would love to find more effective ways to reach their C-suite leaders. Showing more direct causality between localization efforts and international success should therefore stay at the forefront of all those involved in the language industry.”

At Lionbridge Switzerland in Zurich, Ester Gentile and Isabelle Busch talked about the growing demand for sustainability-related communications which has become a key topic throughout Europe. They also discussed their passion for combining marketing and localization. The increasing involvement of SEO in the localization process is another hot trend in 2022. It is becoming more commonplace for companies to hire SEO savy localization partners. 

During an ensuing LocLunch Zurich event, it was particularly striking how tightly knit our industry remains. If there is one thing that sets apart, it’s the way we connect and our hospitality.


Stefan Huyghe
Stefan Huyghe is Vice President of Localization at Communicaid Inc. where he focuses on running high-level operations, workflow optimization, database development, social selling and community building. He has over 20 years of experience working in the language industry is fluent in Dutch, French, German, and English.

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