SDL Research Reveals Challenges of Rapid Growth within the Translation Industry

May 24, 2016

SDL announced the release of its Translation Technology Insights research study, examining the role of technology in the translation industry. With nearly 3,000 respondents across 115 countries and nine languages, the survey findings are comprised of responses from freelance translators, employees of translation agencies and translation-related roles within business - making this the largest and most expansive within the translation industry to date. 

SDL is keen to better understand trends within the localization space and the challenges that stifle progress within it. Centered around the role of technology within translation, SDL uncovered the following five critical insights:

  • Quality is king: Quality of translation is 6x more important than cost, and 2.5x more important than speed
  • Productivity tools need significant investment: 72% of respondents believe they would lose competitive advantage without translation productivity tools
  • New ways to work are required. The industry needs to invest in collaboration and sharing: 79% of agencies and freelancers work with remote teams
  • There is a need for systems and workflow integration: 79% of respondents use two or more categories of translation productivity software
  • The future lies in personalization and better user experience: 59% of respondents like to customize their software

The analysis of the findings brought to light some unexpected realities within the industry. For translation quality, there is a strong disconnect between the importance of quality and standardization measurement in the market. This poses the question on the need for the industry to adopt an objective approach to consistent quality standards. Additionally, the report highlights the value of machine translation - though it is by no means a universally welcomed or leveraged technology currently. This indicates that the integration of machine technology may be a natural next step for improving translation efficiency. 

As an industry driven by technology, the survey emphasizes a clear reliance on different types of translation productivity technology, however, it also showcases the need for this technology to better integrate with and support user preferences and behaviors. As the market growth continues to accelerate, efficiency and productivity need to be matched by the industry truths that are turnaround times, remote working, and siloed translation projects.