In today’s climate most industries are experiencing rapid or steady declines. The unlikely scenario of steady growth is occurring in the translation sector.
Studying the translation sector allows us to see the growth of society towards Globalization. The need to cross cultural barriers is at the core of modern business and in this process translators are revolutionizing global communications.
When analyzing the translation services sector a very common term used is language service provider (LSP). Other services provided by LSP’s include interpreting, localization, internationalization and supporting technologies. Interpreting involves the translation of one spoken voice to another. Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel." Internationalization is the process of planning and implementing products and services so that they can easily be adapted to specific local languages and cultures, a process called localization. Supporting technologies are those that technologically aid a user in learning or honing his or her language skills.
The reason that there hasn’t been much data collected on LSPs until recently is due to the fact that most LSPs were privately held and were reluctant to divulge such information. Recently with acquisitions some LSPs have grown so large that they are now publicly traded. The first data on LSPs was recorded quite recently, in the late 1990s, by the US Census and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Due to this lack of concrete information one can only make general predictions of the annual revenue spent on translation with a 9 to 21 billion dollars being a conservative estimate. Even without these concrete numbers to justify this figure there is no doubt that the importance of the LSP is increasing. Language options on websites, customer service calls and TV are testament to this.
According to Common Sense Advisory, the global language services market totaled $14.25 billion in 2008. Common Sense expects the industry to increase to around $25 billion by 2013, almost 11% five years. In the 2006 the US Department of Labor predicts a 24% increase in the number of US translators by 2016. To understand these statistics more we have a breakdown of the top 30 LSPs per territory.
Asia, $106.3M, 2.8%
Scandinavia, $130M, 3.4%
Rest of Europe, $637M, 16.8%
UK, $565M, 14.9%
USA, $2,334M, 62.1%
When considering these figures it is important to note that the LSP model is more developed in the UK and USA. For instance in mainland Europe there are a lot more sole translators.
While a lot of the growth can be attributed to globalization we cannot forget the importance of the internet. The internet has revolutionized the way that we exchange information and has exponentially increased the amount of information available. Translated information can reach any corner of the earth with the click of a button. The industry continues to grow as other countries, specifically those in Asia and the Middle East, follow this example in an effort to expand their audience reach to the United States and Europe.
The growth of the translation services industry and the role the internet plays in promoting this growth consolidates an upward trend. With the online marketplace getting more diverse, the demand for translation is ever increasing. The scope for the development of the non-English speaking translation market is phenomenal.
The importance of the translation services sector is growing in importance to the extent that what officially existed as an unrecorded industry up until 20 years ago is now a thriving industry with an expected value of $25 billion in the coming years. The importance of man’s need to communicate will always drive the sector upwards.