Future-proofing LSP Technology Public  

LSPs become services aggregators

At the TAUS Annual conference in Vancouver, Welocalize’s VP of software development, Douglas Knoll, demonstrated a new production platform that can now be used for virtually any task. This opens up a technology discussion among LSPs regarding the ability to add new services quickly.

Bad news for TMS creators inside translation companies. Even if you develop the world’s best translation management system, it won’t be enough to prepare the company for the challenges of the future. Why? Because the future of LSPs is not exclusive to translation.

New lines of business

As the translation market decelerates, language services providers seek growth in new services. Consider the following examples:

AI training and chatbots

Lionbridge, Welocalize and Pactera clean and annotate data for AI training, and script dialogues for chatbots

Electronic Discovery

Welocalize handles evidence eDiscovery for litigation

Media localization

TransPerfect has moved into the dubbing and subtitling business

Game testing and platform adaptation

Keywords generates millions of dollars in revenue with functional and linguistic testing for video games, and ports them to new platforms (for example, from Windows to iOS and Android)

From transcription to copywriting, many LSPs have already become professional human service aggregators. And who knows what new offerings will spring up in the next three years. Markets might materialize in areas yet to be explored, and agile companies will try to probe every interesting opportunity. Are their production units and tech teams ready for rapid transitions?

It is clear that each new offering will use new talent and new software, but in a startup economy, LSPs will likely not have the luxury of developing production units over 5 -10 years, as was the case in the past. Once CEOs validate a new line of business, team-leads will need to jump onto the moving train.

Logistics

In technical terms “jumping onto a moving train” means that companies will need a central system, so that multiple systems for each individual service can be plugged in.

  • The central business management system to handle clients, talent, business intelligence, financials, purchase orders and invoices, and orders via a client portal
  • Production systems to handle and automate actual work  TMS for translation services, an IMS for interpreting, a media suite with media asset management for audiovisual, a testing suite for functional QA, and so on.

It’s clear that each system will need a strong API and that most of the work will happen automatically in the backend, instead of manual actions inside user interfaces.

Examples:

Example 1: Welocalize production platform Pantheon for language work, designed for project managers to fix problems such as wrong metadata or project plan.

Example 2. Welocalize internal workflow done in the backend.

Example 3: Editing environment for transcription and speech-to-text training from Pactera.  OneForma covers the production step, resource recruitment, training, testing, financial management and analytics

Example 4. Pactera’s environment to train chatbots for the enterprise

Near-future Impact

As LSPs add more and more services, it becomes less relevant for them to develop language automation features. Instead of creating CAT-tools and basic TMSs, developers should concentrate their effort on the central platform that automates company processes that are common for all lines of business, such as a CRM, invoicing, payment automation, and talent management.

Since their software will have to adapt for a bigger variety as their clients change their nature of business, business management software developers (such as Plunet, XTRF, and FlowFit) should consider investing in a strong API with the ability to plug new services into existing projects, vendor management, and client portals. Developers who overlook this advice might find eventually themselves outpaced by more generic and customizable management software.

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