Localization trends coming in 2023: get your loc programs future-ready

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As 2022 comes to an end, localization and language industry teams have already started making their plans for 2023. The localization business has become an increasingly strategy, data, and innovation-driven sphere with comparable advancements to those in Software Development or Marketing. Teams must be on the cutting edge of trends to make future-ready business decisions.

After our recent LocTalk conference, which gathered top globalization thought leaders, and the momentous findings of our linguistic supply chain industry report, we were able to pinpoint some defining trends that will shape next year's localization industry.

1. A shift in the linguistic supply chains towards improving quality, speed, and transparency

The industry study on the linguistic supply chain, which was widely dispersed in the localization community (and beyond), confirmed some claims that have been avidly discussed regarding partnering with external linguistic resources, such as translators and interpreters.

From the 145 companies that participated, which included Apple, Siemens, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, S&P Global, Subway, Red Cross, and Dell, the consensus was clear: most found they obtained better quality, a higher level of transparency, and faster turnaround times when they were able to have a direct contact with translators and linguists in addition to working with agencies.

With quality being the number one concern for all surveyed companies, there's a reason why being in direct communication with translators can help towards ensuring satisfactory results. These linguistic professionals often come with on specializations, meaning essential industry and topical knowledge. Companies, often supported by agencies in the management process, can work with the translators that best understand their needs, thus producing higher levels of quality and audience-friendly results.

As the study shows, many enterprises will continue to work more directly with both translators agencies to produce even more localized content that audiences have come to expect.

2. AI expanding past the purpose of machine translation

At LocTalk ‘22, many presentations and panels were centered on technological innovations, machine translation, and AI. They also touched on how the various players in the loc world can best prepare for these advancements and change perspectives to see it in a more positive light. While companies race to get their hands on the translation platforms, freelance linguists still look at this progress with some apprehension.

Josef Kubovský, CEO of Nimdzi, and Derick Fajardo, Head of International and Language Strategy at reputable University, took part in a panel called “AI in the Here and Now - Emerging Trends,” in which they both agreed on many points:

  • The opportunities to implement AI are expanding from its initial core usage with machine translation and will apply increasingly o processes as a means to speed up project development. Everyone stands to win when tedious or repetitive tasks are replaced. One use case we’ve already implemented is Smartcat’s AI sourcing of linguistic professionals.

  • Machine translation can be a freelancer's best tool to turn out translations faster. The key is to understand how much needs to be post-edited, depending on the nature of the audience or content type. A growing concern seen across the industry is how we can ensure sensitive information is handled, especially if it’s law, government, health, and/or safety-related.

“AI influences every part of what we do in localization, and also business in general.” - Derick Fajardo

The focus will also continue to be put on new and exciting innovations in AI. One example mentioned at the conference was lip-dubbing in videos, where algorithms change the speaker’s mouth movements to appear as if they’re speaking the language (as opposed to traditional dubbing). However, these kinds of advancements may not affect the multimedia localization industry until one or two years from now.

Other highly interesting presentations on innovations were:

3. Using data to advocate for localization as a profit center

Advocating for the value of localization, or a localization team, within a business was a recurring topic during LocTalk, but this challenge isn’t new. While it's come a long way in business settings and in large enterprises, the struggle still widely remains to get manager buy-in and advocate for its importance. Many outside of the localization field still perceive it as an expense next to rent or utilities.

That’s where Max Troyer, Professor of Translation and Localization Management (TLM) program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, could help. In his LocTalk presentation on “How to Convince Your Boss That Localization Can be a Profit Center”, he talked about the importance of using data to:

  1. Show upper management the value of investing in localization

  2. Prove the ongoing success of loc team efforts

  3. Shift the conversation away from the loc costs to global profits instead

What kind of data will teams use in 2023 to show the ROI on localization spending?

  • Trends in data: showing data go upwards over time

  • Data on global growth and Sales-derived revenue on specific geos v.s. localization spend for the same geos, and showing the low cost vs hgh profit comparison

  • User satisfaction over time

  • Comments and reviews from customers in different countries

4. B2B localization will evolve in its own direction

In his presentation on “Localization Scaling Strategies for B2B Organizations,” Director of Localization at Coupa Software, Jose Palomares discussed how more focus needs to be put on strategizing for B2B business localization, which starkly differs from B2C.

As localization continues to forge forward as a key business driver, B2B enterprises will have to re-analyze their strategies and can use the points communicated by Jose to define them:

  • What works in one organization may not work in another. B2B localization strategies must adhere to the respective industries. General market research may fail.

  • Spend time with field teams before deciding whether to enter a given region and what to localize.

  • Even when there is a proven need and a clear benefit to localize, it’s not possible to tackle everything at the same time. It’s worthwhile to build a tiered globalization roadmap and stick to it until there is clear data that business needs have changed.

What’s next?

In 2023, enterprises will continue to understand just how important localization is in driving international business goals. When this realization grows, it’ll make it easier for localization teams to get their needs met, whether in terms of needed technology or resources. However, until this becomes “common knowledge'', localization managers will need to use data as a means to advocate for the revenue-growing nature of localization. In addition, both companies and freelance linguists will have to focus more intently on understanding the benefits and opportunities enabled by AI, whether in machine translation or in automating processes.

Go to our Enterprise Page to get your localization program ready for 2023