The language industry market is poised for a supercycle of technology-enabled growth and is expected to top USD 30bn by 2024. This following a marginal contraction of the market in 2020 (–1.6%) to USD 23.8bn and a strong rebound in 2021 (approx. +8–10%), according to Slator’s Florian Faes, who fired the opening salvo of good news at SlatorCon Remote May 2021.
Faes went on to share the opportunities created by this supercycle, from proven to fast-emerging to frontier. He also shared some of the most actionable insights from Slator’s flagship 2021 Language Industry Market Report as well as the Pro Guide on Translation Pricing and Procurement with the 250-strong online audience gathered on May 13.
News on the booming SVOD (subscription video on demand) market opened guest presentations at the online conference. David Lee, CEO of Iyuno-SDI Group, pointed out how 2020 was a peak year for OTT (over-the-top media service), with over 200 million new SVOD accounts created. The year closed at 518 million net global VOD subscribers, Lee said in his keynote.
As for globalization in general, the Iyuno-SDI CEO said that given the scale and speed of delivery required by today’s global supply chain, now is “a critical time” to rethink the relationship of its different components — from reducing time to market and number of touch points to having the financial resources to grow, organically and inorganically.
The panel discussion on Data for AI followed. Moderated by Slator’s Anna Wyndham, the panel touched on the limitless possibilities of annotated data as the demand for it skyrockets.
Casper Grathwohl, President of the Oxford Languages Division at Oxford University Press, shared how the 500-year-old publishing company now uses data tagging. He said Oxford has even expanded into multilingual data over the past 10–15 years, with a particular focus on low-resource languages. Grathwohl also pointed out the challenges of a publisher working with a lot of domain-specific data translated into multiple languages.
Meanwhile, Kåre Lindahl, CEO of Venga Global, said the language service provider (LSP) leveraged its beginnings in the software industry to offer data for AI. Today, a third or more of the company’s revenue comes via data and “it’s become an important part of the business.”
For his part, Michel Lopez, Founder and CEO of e2f, an LSP offering data-for-AI services, said one of the biggest challenges surrounding the data business is recruitment. He noted the different rhythm in recruiting for both sides of the e2f business; while an LSP can develop long-term relationships with linguists, data-for-AI recruitment is a whole other story.
Lopez said that when recruiting survey participants for, say, 200 hours of specific accents, domains, or languages, “once you build your datasets, you will very likely never contact those people anymore.” The panel then tackled different crowd-recruitment strategies, including partnering with complementary resources.
Localization Challenges and ROI
Following the networking break with Lilt and virtual exhibit featuring Translation Back Office, SocialSEO, and Women in Localization was a track that featured a strategic buyer-LSP relationship of more than 17 years.
Dell’s Wayne Bourland (Director of Translation) and Welocalize’s Darin Goble (VP of Solutions) talked about working together to steer the global customer journey across localization, internationalization, legal, automation, and so on. Bourland also shared how Dell uses sales and localization data to generate ROI.
Korn Ferry’s Valerie Petit followed, discussing the localization challenges that have emerged in the transition from print to digital; which have to do with content integration and the localization workflow as well as digital transformation.
As Senior Localization Manager at a global consulting firm listed on the New York bourse, Petit shared localization insights from their work in helping organizations build their teams globally, including pulling intel from the company’s proprietary AI platform, Intelligence Cloud.
Capitalizing on the E-Commerce Boom
The e-commerce panel moderated by Slator’s Esther Bond was up next. Panelists recalled the transformative year that was, with Liat Karpel Gurwicz, Head of E-commerce Marketing at Wix.com pointing out how global online sales transactions experienced 140% growth year over year. She said 63% more stores had shoppers coming from multiple countries.
Shopify’s Giulia Greco (Localization Programs Lead) talked about the Canadian retail platform’s strategies to leverage on this boom, specifically targeted at loyal customers. Touching on what kinds of solutions can help take advantage of this growth was Yair Tal, CEO of BLEND, an LSP.
Capping the event was Mary Anne Henselmann, Senior Director of Translation Management Services at ADP, one of the largest providers of human capital management (HCM) solutions globally (e.g., payroll and other business outsourcing services) with USD 14.6bn in revenues (FY20) and more than 860,000 clients worldwide.
Henselmann recounted the various phases of their loc team’s journey — from a small team on a shoestring in 2008–2010 to maturity and scaling from 2020–2022.