On June 10, 2020, we published our Nimdzi Language Technology Atlas, the comprehensive resource that maps hundreds of language technology solutions from all around the world. Two months later, after receiving and reviewing feedback from more than three dozen companies who submitted requests to add new tools or change their categorization, we released an update to the infographic on August 27. You can find it on our main Atlas page.
We spent a couple days travelling the world virtually — having a look at where language technology is being developed. We found that some companies had their headquarters (HQ) in a country like Germany, for example, but did the actual development in Russia. This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, with companies seeking low-cost locations that allow for more scalable development work.
To simplify the mapping process, we counted only those countries where companies are headquartered. The result is some 500 companies spread out over 45 countries. A small number of technology providers wouldn’t disclose where they’re located and some are stateless open source developers.
The United States is driving the wave of technological development, hosting the greatest number of language technology companies: 32.62 percent of those mapped have HQs in the US. The most popular tools developed here are Virtual Interpreting Technology (VIT) and Translation Management Systems (TMS). Audiovisual technology (AVT) comes in third.
Interestingly, it’s not the TMS category (the largest in the Atlas) but VIT that’s the most-developed language technology in the US, which underscores the US as the largest interpreting market in the world. It’s also in line with the trend of VIT booming worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic requires companies to accelerate their digitalization for the ongoing remote work environment. Thus, some VIT providers have seen as much as a 250 percent increase in inbound inquiries over just three months, and one particular US-based VIT company had to double the number of its internal staff within a single month.
Language technology development in the US: data on ~150 companies
Germany comes in as the second largest homebase for technological innovation in the localization industry. 9.22 percent of the companies are located here. After that comes the United Kingdom, China, and France (6.62, 5.67, and 4.26 percent, respectively):
Headquarters of n language technology providers, n-->500
The next five countries, which are home to 10 or more language technology companies are:
Moreover, data shows us an interesting trend that’s being observed in Europe: six European countries each have the exact same number of registered HQs there:
|1.42||Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Italy, Finland, Sweden|
Note: the geo map leaves off 13 countries that each have only one single relevant tech company HQ we’re aware of. This includes Albania, Macedonia, Uruguay, and ten others.
We’ve found that, in multilingual and multicultural countries, business expansion is unimaginable without a language component. Astute governments and public bodies have been complementing the demand for technology historically driven by buyers of language services through funding and by offering the supporting infrastructure language technology developers need to thrive.
What is language technology? Nimdzi has organized a series of panel discussions to cover some of our favorite topics in the space.
Some machine translation providers are holding out hope for MT systems that adapt to document context. Could this development eliminate the need for custom MT engines? Will context-enabled MT help MT achieve human parity? Will we still need to customize a few years from now? Let’s discuss further.
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