Client Needs Drive Service Expansion, ALC Survey Finds

Clients in Language Services and Translation

Why do language service providers add new services to their existing portfolios? The 2023 ALC Industry Survey — produced in collaboration with Slator — found that the primary driver for service expansion is customer needs. (Contact ALC to obtain a copy of the ALC Industry Survey Report).

Close to one-third of ALC survey respondents describe their services strategy as “client-centric”, saying, “we update our portfolio of services in response to the specific needs and requests of our existing customer base.”

Furthermore, one in five companies took an “opportunistic” approach, adding a service when an attractive opportunity arose (for example, due to lowered barriers to entry, or via acquisition), while 15% use service diversification as a risk mitigation measure.

The 2023 ALC Industry Survey ran from August to September 2023, collecting responses from 85 small and medium-sized LSPs in the US and globally on a broad range of industry topics —  from growth and business strategies, technology, and supply chains, to pricing, salaries, and recruitment.

More than half of the companies in the sample set added new services in the last three years. The most frequently added services for this period were e-learning, integrations, live captioning, post-edited machine translation, remote simultaneous interpreting, voiceovers, and video remote interpreting.

However, the survey data suggests a slowdown in service diversification. While 55% of companies added services in the last three years, only 40% of companies plan to add new services in the next three years.

Translation Companies Have More Diverse Service Portfolios

The 2023 ALC Survey also revealed several key differences in the service strategies of translation-focused companies, compared to providers with an interpreting focus.

Media localization, interpreting, transcription, and captioning are the top adjacent services for translation-focused companies. The service portfolios of translation companies is comparatively more diverse and such companies are likely to expand into AI-related services e.g., data-for-AI and machine learning.

In contrast, interpreting-focused companies have more concentrated portfolios of services and expand most frequently into translation, sign language interpreting, captioning and conference equipment services.

2023 ALC Industry Report

Table of Contents

Executive Summary3
Key Takeaways4
Summary of Findings5
Profile of Survey Respondents8
Business Model12
Buyer Sectors14
Domestic vs. International Spending19
International Expansion20
Business Strategy22
Business Priorities22
Services Strategy24
Competitive Landscape28
M&A and Funding29
Language Services36
Translation Services36
Interpreting Services40
Sign Language Interpreting 51
Language Testing52
Language Training53
Growth and Profitability54
Profit Margins58
Rates for Translation Services61
Rates for Interpreting Services69
Rates for Sign Language Interpreting73
Rates for Language Training73
Rates for Language Testing74
TMS and CAT Tools75
Interpreting Platforms76
Language Testing Platforms77
Language Training Platforms78
Machine Translation78
Integrations and Connectors80
Buy vs. Build83
Supply Chain and Personnel85
Workforce Demand and Supply86
Managing Independent Contractors96
The Future of Jobs99
Sales and Marketing101
Standards and Accreditations104
KPIs and Metrics108
Global Events and Macroeconomic Factors111
Regulations and Legislation117
Data Privacy and Cybersecurity121
AI and Large Language Models124