10 Translation Industry Predictions for 2012

The following are predictions that GTS blog makes for the translation industry in 2012: 1.           Business will be good. 2012 will be a good year for translation companies, following a less-than-great 2011. The US economy in a Presidential election year is rebounding and that should be good for most of the people in the food chain. More and more online content is being translated too which means more business for everyone.
2.           Demand for website and online translation services will outperform industry growth. The online content explosion, the death of books and printed materials, the increased penetration of smartphones and mobile readers will increase demand for translation of website and other online content.
3.           Customizable MT engines in the cloud. People will be able to create custom machine translation engines with their own training corpus, but without investing in expensive servers and software development. Microsoft already features a Collaborative Translation feature which puts some customization into the cloud. Let’s MT is a European company which already started Beta testing this very system concept (they invited us to start testing the system last November; while it is not ready yet the system shows promise and it should be ready this year). Other MT companies have also considered SaaS models and we may see some in 2012.
4.           Further consolidation. The big companies like Transperfect, WeLocalize and SDL will continue to grow though strategic mergers and acquisitions. The big will get bigger, some of the smaller players will disappear.
5.           Facebook will continue to integrate machine translation into the social network. They started it in 2011 by integrating the Bing Translator. They will continue to add new language features to help break down the language barrier.
6.           Translation prices will continue to drop. People, especially translators who are in denial, have argued this point with me but I expect human translation prices to continue to drop as more use of post-edited MT workflows are adapted by large LSPs and buyers of translation services.
7.           More unemployed translators. Freelance translators who refuse to adapt to the changes in the industry and who rely on outdated models will be scrambling for work in 2012. Some may not find it and may need to consider a career change.
8.           Speech-to-speech translation will not mature into serious commercial products in 2012. I think that people will continue to talk about a Universal Translator but that advances in technology will not be sufficient for a killer speech-to-speech app to be released for commercial use.
9.           European translators and translation companies will become more cost competitive. The Euro has fallen nearly 10% against the US Dollar in the last few weeks. If the economic predictions come true, the Euro should drop further in 2012. That will make it more economically viable for US companies to buy translation services in Europe.
10.        SDL will release new post-editing software. SDL already integrated MT into Trados Studio 2009, making it possible to machine translate a document and post-edit the content. I predict that SDL will release new software in 2012 that automates the MT post-editing process, making translation automation faster and easier.