Seven translation trends that are driving growth in the industry

By Louise Ludgrove & Peri Lyon, 22 July 2021 | 8 mins read

Hello, Bonjour and Здравствуйте*! Today we’re going to be talking about translation industry trends (in case you were in any doubt). Like all industries, Translation has been through the pandemic wringer and come out looking rather different to when it went in. However, this doesn’t mean it’s suffered – if anything, it’s flourished and progressed. In many cases, Covid has simply accelerated translation trends that were present before coronavirus hit. But before we get into what’s happening, let’s take a closer look at some revealing industry stats.

*Hello in Ukrainian, language fans

Stat attack

So, the translation industry is officially booming – but what’s driving this growth? Why has the sector proved so buoyant and resilient when others have struggled and faltered? One of the answers lies in the process of globalisation that’s been steadily intensifying over the last 20 years. The key to an inter-connected world lies not just with the internet, but with precious polyglots.

1. Tech and globalisation

As technological innovation transcends geographic boundaries, there’s greater need for translators and interpreters to aid communication. Organisations want to share everything from reports and brand straplines, to contributions at online conferences and meetings. Worldwide connections are now regarded as a fundamental part of business, with corporations expecting to bypass language barriers at the drop of a hat (or the click of a mouse). Marketing is a particularly important area, as organisations enter the global stage.

It’s therefore no surprise that transcreation is thriving along with the broader translation industry. And, as the online universe grows, corporations are setting their sights on its new digital natives. As more and more people get online (nearly two-thirds of the global population will have internet access by 2023), organisations are looking to access these potential customers through cyberspace. However, newcomers to the internet are likely to come from non-English speaking developing nations, such as India, Ghana and Ukraine. That means there are huge opportunities for companies that are brave enough to step out of their comfort zone and into non-English speaking markets. Long live  Viva localisation!

2. Video and podcasts

As humanity has moved online, there’s been a growing need to adapt content and apps for users around the globe. Video is a case in point – average video consumption stood at 84 mins per day in 2019 – and Cisco predicts that 82% of global internet traffic will come video streaming and downloads by 2022.

With the inexorable rise of video, comes the need for localisation, including subtitling and dubbing for video content. Video translation services are therefore thriving in a fast-expanding market.

Multi-language podcasts are another example of how advances in technology are driving the need for translation. Some of the world’s biggest operators are expanding the reach of their most popular shows by translating them into multiple languages.

3. E-learning

E-learning was a growing field before the pandemic began, but now it’s bigger than ever. In fact, Forbes believes the sector will be worth some $355 billion in 2025 as the pandemic forces learners and teachers to avoid the physical classroom. This change is driving significant growth in language translation and transcreation markets, as organisations convert predominantly English e-tools and materials into other languages. And that’s something we know all about, thanks to Maverick Global.

Case study: DHL

About 10 years ago, the global logistics company, DHL had a problem. It needed to adapt and translate training for 100,000 employees worldwide. With people in 220 countries and territories, DHL wanted to encourage an international mindset and transcreate inspiring learning materials for local markets. By working with top translation agencies and talent, Maverick Global reduced DHL’s translation spend by 40%, while ensuring suppliers delivered quality. Get the lowdown and see our other case studies.

4. Remote working

While the digital shift was already well underway by the time Covid hit, the pandemic made online communication a necessity. This required remote interpreters including sign language interpreters, and live translation. Although both have been available for several years, the pandemic created a surge in demand: in hospitals, courtrooms, conferences and businesses, remote interpreting and live translation became the norm.

This trend may well continue into 2022 and the future, with health protocols in many countries restricting face-to-face contact. As the pandemic rages in many parts of the world, organisations are getting used to remote arrangements – and interpreting services are benefitting.

Thankfully, the digital shift hasn’t been too difficult for translators and interpreters, as many were working online already. If there’s one small crumb of comfort to be had during the Covid nightmare, it’s that language service providers were relatively well adapted.

5. Medical translation

Another area where Covid had an impact was medical translation. As countries around the world struggled to create a vaccine and manage the disease, the need to share knowledge became critical.

Within the medical and pharmaceutical industries professionals, there was an urgent need to exchange research, opinions, statistics and discoveries worldwide. And, once the pandemic took hold, Governments had to communicate safety measures to the public, ensuring that everyone understood the rules, whatever language they spoke.

As the crisis continues in nations around the world, it seems unlikely that the demand for medical translation will fall any time soon. The challenge may be finding enough suitably qualified translators to tackle this complex field.

6. A growing workforce

Having said that… the translation talent pool has been brimming over since the pandemic began. As people have lost their jobs, they’ve turned to their language skills to survive. The industry has also proved attractive to those who’ve taken the opportunity during lockdown to re-think their lifestyle and career goals. Result? A whole raft of new translators, who are prospering through their language abilities.

For those who speak Chinese, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese, the opportunities are particularly exciting. Meanwhile, those specialising in tech such as blockchain and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), are likely to be busy. And as we’ve already covered, Health and Life Sciences will need translators for some time to come. Bi- and multi-lingual people: your time is now.

7. Artificial Intelligence

For many years, tech prophets have predicted the fall of human translation and the rise of AI. And while machine translation has come on in leaps and bounds, it’s not quite there yet. Tools such as Google Translate aren’t able to deal with complex texts or documents, and still struggle with local and colloquial phrases. In many cases, it’s quicker for human translators to translate the text than to let a machine do it and then perform translation post-editing.

However, there are new breeds of hybrid platform that could provide a better solution in the future for the language industry. Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) keeps the human translator in the loop, allowing them to check and edit the machine’s translation as they go along. A person is still in charge of the process, but it’s much easier and faster. The system uses a type of machine learning called ‘deep learning neural networks’ to crunch multiple levels of training data, including the human’s translation style, vocabulary and preferences.

But for now, editing machine translation is a slow and labour-intensive process. When will systems match the knowledge and consistency of a human? Watch this space…

The need for quality and efficiency is timeless

While these advances are exciting, it’s results that count. With budgets tight post-pandemic, no one wants to waste money on poor quality work or unreliable services. A good translation partner is a must, whether it’s for high volumes of work or complex projects where accuracy is crucial. Step forward Maverick Global, champions of customisation and excellence.

The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach holds no water here: our team devises a unique strategy devised for every project they undertake. What’s more, Maverick Global only works with proven talent such as in-market copywriters with in-depth understanding of cultural quirks. And finally, our team’s long industry experience means they understand the value of knowing the client – what they want and how they work.

“Maverick Global offers a light and nimble approach ensuring personalisation and flexibility,” says Account Director, Louise Ludgrove. “We can adapt quickly and build stronger client relationships with a customised and tailored approach to each project.”

To find out more about Maverick Global, get in touch with us! We’d love to hear from you.