Top 7 language industry trends to look out for in 2019

These are exciting times for the translation industry, promising many perks for those of its participants who know where to look. So whether you are a freelance translator, a language service provider, or a translation agency, knowing what’s up and coming in 2019 will allow you to stay on top of the g ame this year.

1. Machine translation and post-editing

Machine translation has been around for over 60 years but has only recently started being taken seriously by the language industry. This is largely due to the advent of neural machine translation (NMT). Even though this artificial intelligence-based approach has its pitfalls, its successes mean that machine translation is here to stay. For the same reason, post-editing machine translation services (PEMT) are in increasing demand. Whether you like it or not, the global market of machine translation is expected to reach $980 billion by 2022.

So if you’re still struggling to come to terms with that change, it’s about time you did so. It doesn’t mean you have to become a post-editor, or a post-editing agency, right now. It just means you have to adapt your service offering, preparing yourself for the new reality.

Tip: Try and compare different MT engines in Smartcat.

2. Transcreation

On the other end of the spectrum, we have transcreation. This service might not account for the largest part of the translation industry just yet, but it’s growing, thanks to more and more businesses’ understanding the value of approaching their international clients in the right way. The concept of transcreation involves both localization and creative writing. As a language professional or an LSP, you are expected to adapt texts or even whole marketing campaigns so that they sound and feel as if they were conceived in the target language.

This new translation trend encourages translators to feed their creative side, and LSPs to look for ones who are able to do so. Together with the previous point about machine translation and PEMT, this presents an interesting dichotomy that we may observe unfolding in the language industry over this and subsequent years. Which brings us to...

3. Specialization

It might be a banal thing to say, but the more specialized you are, the sharper your competitive edge. In times when whole new industries spring up like mushrooms, having at least some domain-specific knowledge will make you more attractive to users from these industries — whether it’s blockchain, data science, virtual reality, or Internet of Things.

We have an article about the ways LSPs can work to build their niche, but it boils down to starting where you have ins, specializing your whole supply chain, and attending events related to your specialties. Whichever path you choose, it’s important to position yourself in the right way to your customers, whether they are direct customers or bigger agencies.

4. Video translation and subtitling

Video content is taking over the Internet. Cisco expects that 80% of Internet traffic will come from videos by 2021. This also means higher demand for translation. For example, on Facebook, some 85% of videos are played back without sound, so subtitles for the target language audience are essential.

When translating videos, it is often important to keep timestamps of the original video and to present the result in the requested format. So having a good grasp of subtitling tools is an important value you can bring to the table.

5. E-learning

Forbes magazine expects that the e-learning market will reach $325 billion by 2025. At the same time, most of the e-learning content is currently available in English only. As the English-speaking market reaches saturation, more and more online educators will be seeking translation services for their e-learning courses.

It’s worth noting that most e-courses include not only content, but also the technology that is used to deliver it to students. Therefore, if you are an LSP that wants to offer translation of e-trainings, it is important that you learn the software behind them. Here’s a case study of Idea Translations, a company who made developing and managing e-courses a part of their service offering.

6. Long tail

Here are some interesting infographics by Common Sense Advisory:

As you can see, the number of languages required to reach 99% of the world’s GDP is increasing at approximately one new language per year. This might not seem a lot, but just like any “averaged” statistics, it does not take into account that some types of content are more popular in some economies than others. Adding languages from the “long tail” allows companies to reach new audiences at a relatively low cost because the competition isn’t as high as it is in “short-tail” economies.

Pro tip: Add new languages to your offering effortlessly with freelancers from the Smartcat marketplace.

7. Connected translation

Last but not least, there is a bigger trend that will define not only 2019, but the whole vector of industry development in the years to come. It can be expressed in two words: content economy. Quoting our long-form article on the topic:

The content economy is an emerging paradigm for how modern businesses drive growth in the virtual marketplace. Content has become the lifeblood of both sales and marketing. The sheer amount of content that companies generate to stay relevant is growing at an unprecedented rate. It is fair to say that these days every successful business is, to one degree or another, a content creation business.

As we argue in the same article, the only way translation companies can adapt to the changing landscape — and they have to adapt if they want to stay alive and thrive — is to become a connected part of the content delivery loop. It entails a lot of commitment and requires tough choices to be made, but it’s the only way to ride the crest of the content wave instead of being swept away by it. Once again, we encourage you to read the whole article now.

So, that’s it. These are certainly not the only trends and flows defining the motion of the ecosystem that is the language industry, but it hopefully gives you enough starting points to make your own research and conclusions. Do you already have some? Let us know in the comments!

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