Looking back on it now, 2017 was a significant year for the translation and localization industry. Machine translation and artificial intelligence moved from specific cases and hype to driving unprecedented progress. Companies are recognizing that delivering a connected consumer experience requires teams working together. Digitalization, data management, and systems connectivity all work towards providing better customer experience.
So how does that all affect the language industry in 2018?
Here are the major translation and localization trends we see
Neural Machine Translation (NMT) getting into high gear
Machine Translation has been on our trends list for 4 years in a row and this is no surprise. Trends last longer when they fulfill a need and evolve from the Innovators all the way to the Late Majority (referring to the Technology Adoption Life cycle). With the amount of content exploding, it is no wonder Machine Translation is getting much more visibility… and investment. NMT (an evolution within the Machine Translation space) specifically is a major breakthrough, and resistance is futile. However, not all Machine Translation solutions are created equal. Key is to understand where the various solutions and flavors of MT fit in and their specific usage cases. It is a little bit like going to the car wash and deciding on the best program for your car. Language combinations, volumes, and expectations on output quality should be considered. Customers will learn what solutions are best fitted to their specific needs, Language Service Providers will figure out solutions and price points, translators will develop new skills. The hype and evolution which surrounds MT is unlikely to subside but machines won’t do it all. Human input is crucial to get adequate quality levels as well as deciding which flavor fits a particular need. We expect to see more teams design and implement their MT Strategy in 2018.
Multiplication of touchpoints
In 2018, marketers are focusing on the expansion of touchpoints to reach consumers. Cross-pollination among channels allows them to flow seamlessly between email, social media, VR demos and mobile ads to reach consumers. Integrated Data Management Platforms are the only way for organizations to make sense of the data deluge, understand consumers and turn that knowledge into sophisticated marketing campaigns. As well as giving a seamless customer experience, these campaigns and channels need to fully reflect and enhance the “brand voice” so the messaging does its job and also reflects the bigger brand picture. That’s complex enough when dealing with one language… enterprises are finding that the effort to ensure consistent brand voice in global markets is essential to customer retention and growth. We see this moving into more traditional industries which previously did not consider content creation and content marketing as important to their typical buyer personas. It looks to continue during 2018 and into 2019. Are you set up to have multilingual connected content which reflects your brand voice?
Digitalization: content evolution or revolution?
Marketing presence is now expected everywhere. We see that even more “conservative” sectors such as manufacturing are joining the “content is king” revolution. This means better websites (with a proper ISEO strategy), more relevant content, more frequent content and improved systems connectivity. Getting the CMS, PIM, Marketing automation platforms to connect is high on the agenda of CTOs and CMOs. For Language Service Providers, it is all about simplification of translation technology architecture and flexibility to create workflows which suit customers best. The whole “content story” is a funnel and publishers just want a service and platform that deals with each type and churns out the content correctly and quickly.
Continuous Localization is still here
We have mentioned continuous delivery of global content in previous versions of this article. This has evolved and “Continuous Localization” is now more the norm than the exception. We predict this to grow across sectors and content types in 2018. All with the goal of feeding a faster and better customer experience.
Back to basics
Cool features (remember the first cameras on the Nokia phones back in the day?) tend to become features on larger platforms over time. Translation technology will be no different. A good example is CMS plug-ins or connectors. If you want to localize your website, it will be much simpler, cost and time effective to have a connector linked to your CMS: you will send content for translation and localization directly from the CMS and avoid painful content extraction and cut & paste. The trend is moving toward right-sized connectors which don’t dent the technology budget. Remember the CTOs and CMOs are already investing in connecting all of their content with customers. So light, simple and customizable are the keywords. Expect to see more integration approaches this year and potentially more maturity as initiatives like TAPICC become more evolved.
With technology improving processes, but also accelerating time-to-market and reducing costs, one major area tends to be overlooked: people and talent. Technology has improved process flows and reduced manual tasks. Project Managers spend their day finding solutions to fit customer requirements, and simplifying translation. They are ensuring optimal translation and localization services delivery. Customer service is returning to be a real differentiator in this business and clearly should never be overlooked.