SlatorCon London 2018 was a spectacular display of the breadth and depth of the language industry. We were joined by 80 language industry leaders, a diverse mix of industry stakeholders from end buyers, vendor CEOs, analysts, and investment bankers involved in industry M&A. Delegate profiles cut across the spectrum from pharma to game and media localization, digital marketing and more, with many traveling in from outside of the UK.
In the keynote speech, Slator’s Florian Faes spoke of the “very positive macro outlook” of the industry in Spring 2018, and highlighted the impact of M&A in driving revenue gains for many of the top Slator LSPI companies in 2017. He identified specialized markets such as media localization and life sciences as key growth areas, and commented on the fact that industry startups have so far been unable to challenge leading LSPs in the jostle for market share. Another, more sensitive talking point was a look at price points and customer pricing expectations in the industry, which seem to be dropping rapidly as a result of increased linguist productivity linked to the development of NMT and improved user interfaces.
From his vantage point at the heart of a booming media localization space, ZOO Digital CEO Stuart Green talked about his company’s heavy and timely investment in technology. ZOO’s cloud-based platform put the company in prime position to benefit from skyrocketing demand for media through digital channels, and the trend towards global and localized digital content looks set to continue.
Representing the game localization industry, Michaela Bartelt-Krantz from Electronic Arts (EA) spoke about the company’s outsourcing strategy (direct to freelancers) and of her hopes for future-state workflows where real-time, automated localization is a reality. The Senior Localization Director described EA as operating a supply circle, rather than a supply chain, whereby activities such as language planning, development, game design and live content are interlinked, and real-world events play a role in the localization strategy.
Giving his take on the complex and changing landscape of global content, Hogarth CEO Richard Glasson outlined production de-coupling, global consolidation, on-site operations and direct production relationships as key trends influencing the marketing localization space. Glasson issued a call to adapt-to-survive, a reminder to stay focused on innovation and reinvention in order to get out in front of the trends driving industry change.
On the cross-sector topic of M&A, Benjamin du Fraysseix from LSP Technicis provided insights based on his experience of leading the company through multiple and increasingly-bigger acquisitions since 2012. Despite the benefits of M&A in delivering top-line growth, du Fraysseix also spoke of the need for companies to drive organic growth and stay focused on sales.
Jean Senellart, Global CTO of Systran, took participants on a whistle-top tour of machine translation history, from rules-based MT (RBMT) production in the late ‘60s through to present-day neural MT (NMT). He spoke about the rapid rise and merits of OpenNMT in fostering collaboration even among competitors. Senellart also referenced the vast number of recent papers focused on NMT as testament to its overwhelming dominance as a research field, not just for academia, but for big industry players too.
Slator Co-founder and Commercial Director Andrew Smart closed the conference by reflecting on the major highlights of the day’s presentations, thanking attendees for active participation in the discussions, and sharing the timing of Slator’s upcoming research reports and events.
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