The Digital-First Universe Meets AI and a New Day Dawns 

What happens when you assemble five top localization thought leaders for a 90-minute discussion on the future of the industry? You get a dynamic, thought-provoking dialogue. If these panelists’ views are of any indication, the future of the localization industry is bright.

Lionbridge’s Kajetan Malinowski, Cynthia Stephens and Brian Randall joined Nimdzi Insights’ Renato Beninatto and CSA Research’s Dr. Arle Lommel to offer insight into the changes in the localization industry and its outlook for the future. Panelists delved into a discussion about the content journey, language technology, and return on investment among other topics. The panel was part of the MultiLingual Winter Series and was held on February 25, 2021.

How did the localization industry fare through COVID-19?

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 brought uncertainty and even fear to the localization industry, but Beninatto calls it “the big crisis that wasn’t.”

While some localization companies saw decreased revenues, the top 100 saw above average growth and 70 percent of the 193 ranked localization companies experienced stable or increased profitability. You can add large merger and acquisition deals as yet more evidence of the industry’s strength.

Localization companies responded to the pandemic by making changes they arguably should’ve made in past years, including consolidating offices. Digital transformation drove growth during the past year, and localization companies can expect an explosion of content, more languages, different platforms, and different technologies to continue to be a catalyst of growth moving forward. Panelists credit the industry’s ability to help companies achieve internationalization as a top strength.

What lies ahead?

Panelists have their eye on technology, including general pre-trained transformer 3 (GPT-3), a prediction model that generates natural language. Just as machine translation did not eradicate the industry, neither will emerging technologies, according to panelists. Instead, technology will remove repetitive, low value tasks, become better over time and elevate the human role. It will become easier for translators to increase their productivity and enhance the quality of their work, which will be particularly beneficial since talent will be scarce relative to the growth of content and the amount of material that needs to be localized. In addition, companies will figure out that it’s okay to produce “good enough” quality to succeed in an agile environment.

How can localization companies demonstrate return on investment?

Panelists suggest framing localization as an investment as opposed to a cost. Once companies are aware of the total addressable market that’s not being addressed because of language, they’re more apt to see the value of localization. How should a company first considering expansion go about doing it? Our experts say to pick one market, do it right, and then replicate it. When companies define their strategy based on customer satisfaction, they seldom pull out of a language pair.

How can you learn more?

All the panelists expressed optimism for the localization industry, one even going so far as to call it the Golden Age for translation.

“It’s one of the most exciting times for the localization industry,” Malinowski concluded.

Does the session sound intriguing? View the recording in its entirety on YouTube.

Janette Mandell
Janette Mandell is responsible for content and communications at Lionbridge. Prior to working for Lionbridge, she was a group manager for a boutique public relations agency and spent the bulk of her career as a print and broadcast journalist. Janette earned a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Brandeis University.


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