Opening SlatorCon Remote on December 7, 2022, Slator Commercial Director and conference host, Andrew Smart, welcomed some 380 registered delegates from over 40 countries. He noted how, for a couple of SlatorCon Remotes now, client-side participation has surpassed that of language service providers (LSPs) as more enterprise buyers from across all industries join the conference.
Joining the event from Slator’s corporate headquarters in Zurich, Managing Director, Florian Faes, began by stating, “There are things to be concerned about. There are things to be cautious about. But, generally, I think we can all be quite excited about next year.”
Faes proceeded to make the case for this excitement: He cited developments in behemoths such as Netflix and Google as well as how a number of LSPs are squaring up against each other in Slator’s Real-Time Charts of Listed LSPs (Subscriber Content).
He pointed out how comparing the shared performance of listed LSPs gives a strong indication of sector performance. “If you’re in legal, if you’re in life sciences, if you’re diversified, if you’re in gaming, shared performance reflects where investors’ minds are at in terms of how these specific verticals are performing,” Faes explained.
The Slator Managing Director also homed in on the industry’s top performers and what he described as “still one of the smartest moves I’ve ever seen in the language industry.” (Hint: Lionbridge)
Another thing worth monitoring, Faes said, is the Slator job index — which dipped in December 2022, but only marginally. “I feel we’re in this state of suspended animation. We’re waiting for things to hit, but they haven’t really hit yet. At least from our conversations,” he said.
Faes gave the online audience a sneak peak into the Slator 2023 Language Industry Market Report, sharing a few key figures and discoveries. (Check out this overview of the 2022 edition.)
No year-end presentation would be complete without a look into the most exciting language tech trend of 2023, large language models. Faes shared exactly why LLMs are so hot and their commercial applications.
Finally, he listed at least three reasons why the language industry should look forward to 2023 with excitement: initial market feedback indicates continued resilience among many LSPs; sector trends (i.e., gaming, media, life sciences) underpin strength; clients are looking for many novel ways of going multilingual; and LSPs will very likely play a key role in making AI breakthroughs useful commercially.
Single Biggest Takeaway of the Year: Adapt Via Technology
Delivering his keynote speech from Connecticut, USA, Bryan Murphy, CEO of Smartling, shared tried and tested pro tips on how to get organizational buy-in. “One of the things I like to do is take my pitch and align it to the company’s strategic goals,” Murphy said.
The Smartling CEO also showed some interesting stats (a meaty slide that could already form part of any loc buyer’s presentation!), proving why translation and localization will continue to be in high demand in 2023, “the year of doing more with less.”
Blanca Pinero-Canovas, Director of the Language and Documentation Services Division at the World Trade Organization (WTO), zeroed in on three language technologies that empowered the WTO in “adapting to the new hybrid context” — machine translation customization, speech-to-text (transcription), and text-to-speech.
She said the WTO’s translation volumes now run to some 21 million words (input) per year, mainly from English into French and Spanish; much of it highly sensitive, confidential documents, as well as technical translation in the legal and economic domains.
In a discussion moderated by Slator’s Andrew Smart, Rakan Al Hassan, COO of Ureed and Head of Products at Tarjama, talked about how the company boosted operational efficiency by at least 60%. Tarjama, which recently launched free machine translation for Arabic business users, serves the burgeoning Middle Eastern market.
Konstantin Savenkov, CEO of Intento, talked about the main bottlenecks of the enterprise in adopting new language technology. Having gained insights from the MT-integration platform’s client base, he also pinpointed crucial value drivers and sources of ROI.
Fielding questions from the audience, Savenkov weighed in on the mood in the VC world at the moment given all the AI buzz. “I would say there are two big beliefs: one is the Super-Agency approach, where everything is bundled as one; another is the unbundled approach.”
Savenkov’s candid assessment: “I think Super Agencies are pretty much the same under the hood. They just have more staff, more automation. As for unbundled, these are the new players that bring new value, and who make new value chains appear. That’s what’s interesting for the general VC community.”
Back-to-back panel discussions tackled the booming dubbing market and how LSPs can enter and scale in adjacent markets.
The dubbing panel was packed with media localization luminaries: Simon Constable, SVP, Global Language Services at Visual Data and President of the Entertainment Globalization Association; Scott McCarthy, VP and Head of Dubbing at DreamWorks Animation and VP of the Entertainment Globalization Association; and Manel Carreras Chief Commercial Officer at EVA Group.
Facilitated by Slator’s Smart, the panel shared their thoughts on why dubbing workflows vary from country to country, in which territories they currently see a lot of new growth, and how changing consumer habits affect the dubbing industry.
In a panel moderated by Anna Wyndham, Senior Research Analyst at Slator, Elizabeth McCullough, Senior Director of Linguistic Validation Operations at RWS Group and Michael Rosman, VP of Corporate Strategy at Verbit shared tips on what LSPs should look out for while evaluating their entry into adjacent markets.
In SlatorCon Remote’s header, UpHealth’s Tatiana González-Cestari, Director of Language Service Advocacy, and Danielle Meder, Director of Organizational Quality and Partner Support for Martti, discussed the opportunities that can be found in telehealth and language access. They presented the problems of digital transformation in healthcare and corresponding solutions as well telehealth strategies that have worked for UpHealth.
In a SlatorCon Remote tradition, the online conference was capped by networking and breakout sessions for language buyers and vendors to continue interacting.