Resurgence of Translation Industry amidst Pandemic
Globalisation has turned the planet Earth into a closely connected society where geographical boundaries are no more entry-exit gates for businesses and corporate. Travelling and tourism become a thriving industry; countries started earning foreign exchange through exports, and literature surpassed all the language barriers.
The language translation industry which was functional for ages bloomed only after entering into the globalization era. A huge spurt is witnessed in this sector in the last decade but, like other sectors, it has also borne the brunt of the pandemic and from 2019 to 2020 it remains in the lull phase with negative growth. As the world is coming back to normalcy, things are coming out of the volatility phase; the language translation industry is once again shining like gold and giving tough competition to machine-made best translation services. As artificial intelligence can never embed human feelings and emotions, the natural way of translation done by native experts will always be preferred by the majority of stakeholders.
Among the many disruptions in normalcy due to the restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic, one had been a major setback for the translation industry. The crippling setbacks of the unprecedented eventuality impacted gravely on sectors like the tourism industry, international trade, etc., where language service providers (LSPs), like interpreters and translators, were of utmost importance.
The major challenges faced by the LSPs were sales and growth and the availability of suitable linguistic resources. While there had been a sharp decline in the growth rate of the industry during the pandemic, experts have opined that the dominant pricing model for written translation services will be hybrid by 2022.
Another major challenge for the LSPs is to hire professional sales persons for prospecting and building sales funnels. In this context, experts have often suggested to leave the selling to the bests in the profession. Though, some LSPs have reported minimal impact of the pandemic in their businesses, experts observed that those may derive their businesses from very few sources, which were lucky enough not to be affected that much.
Machine translation (MT) or the language technology has been a widely discussed issue in the LSPs. However, the MT integration in the industry is relatively less advanced in the country. Only a few companies have fully implemented scalable MT capabilities. Surveys have brought forward that MT is the biggest external threat to Indian LSPs. Other areas like Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and other technologies are closely associated with MT in being a threat for the Indian LSPs.
However, the language technology has not evolved drastically in India and the reliance on manual language service providers shall remain relevant for times to come. Also, MT is cost-intensive, especially for the Indian market, since generic engines won’t be viable.
Apart from its core area of service – translation, LSP companies also facilitate clients with subtitling, voiceover / dubbing, language training / teaching, and transcription. They also provide with AI-related services, voiceover / dubbing, MT-related services, and language training. And language translation agencies in Delhi and Mumbai are known for their wide network of native translators and language experts.
Impacts of pandemic
There had been both negative and positive impacts of the pandemic on the LSP industry. The major negative impact was lower levels of productivity leading to working for more hours to overcome it. The positivity during the period was that translators could connect with their customers through online platforms and despite the restrictions of the pandemic the work atmosphere of the companies stayed stable.
Another major positivity amidst the pandemic was that technology got a major boost and the LSP companies which could enable online services could sustain during the tough times, in a country like India where there is a long list of regional languages has witnessed significant growth in the language translation serves, especially by the translation companies of Delhi.
In a global perspective companies are mandated to translate their documents to comply with regional laws that change as per the country. Also, companies need to localize their services in order to expand businesses in foreign lands. Thereby, the demand for language translators is inevitably growing and expansion of the market is certain to grow.
Though machine translation technologies, backed by artificial intelligence, have made translation easier, the importance of an expert eye cannot be ignored. MT can only provide a rough layer of translation and professional translators comes to the fore while it comes to detailed translations like for a television series, documents or other related contents.
Businesses eyeing to go global need to understand the regional needs and should maintain the balance between globalization and localization. To meet this purpose, the translators play a major role and the LSP companies are evolving rapidly.