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Six takeaways from LocWorld 37 in Warsaw

Over the past weekend, Warsaw welcomed Localization World 37 which gathered over 380 language industry professionals. Here is what we’ve gathered from conversations at this premiere industry conference.

1. A boom in data processing services

A new market has formed preparing data to train machine learning algorithms. Between Lionbridge, Pactera, appen, and Welocalize  – the leading LSPs that have staked a claim in this sector – the revenue from these services already exceeds USD 100 million.

Pactera calls it “AI Enablement Services”, Lionbridge and Welocalize have labelled it “Global services for Machine Intelligence”, and appen prefers the title, “data for machine learning enhanced by human touch.” What companies really do is a variety of human tasks at scale:

  • Audio transcription
  • Proofreading
  • Annotation
  • Dialogue management

Humans help to train voice assistants and chat bots, image-recognition programs, and whatever else the Silicon Valley disruptors decide to unleash upon the world. One prime example was performed at the beginning of this year when Lionbridge recorded thousands of children pronouncing scripted phrases for a child-voice recognition engine.

Machine learning and AI are the second biggest areas for venture investment, according to dealroom.co. According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) forecast, this is likely to  quadruple in the next 5 years, from USD 12 billion in 2017 to USD 57.6 billion. Companies will need lots of accurate data to train their AI, hence there is significant business opportunity in data cleaning. Compared to flash platforms like Clickworker and Future Eight, LSPs have a broader human resource management competence and can compete for a large slice of the market.

2. LSP AI: Separating fact from fantasy

Img: memsource

Artificial intelligence was high on information at #Locworld 37, but apart from the advances in machine translation, nothing radically new was presented. If any LSPs use machine learning for linguist selection, ad-hoc workflow building, or predictive quality analytics, they didn’t show it.

On the other hand, everyone is chiming in to the new buzzword. In a virtual show of hands at the AI panel discussion, an overwhelming proportion of LSP representatives voted that they already use some AI in their business. That’s pure exaggeration to put it mildly.

3. Introducing Game Global

Img: yolocalizo.com

Locworld’s Game Localization Roundtable expanded this year into a fully-fledged sister conference – the Game Global Forum. The two-day event gathered just over 100 people, including teams from King.com, Electronic Arts, Square Enix, Ubisoft, Wooga, Zenimax / Bethesda, Sony, SEGA, Bluehole and other gaming companies.

We spoke to participants on the buying side who believe the content to be very relevant, and vendors were happy with pricing – for roughly EUR 500, they were able to network with the world’s leading game localization buyers. This is much more affordable than the EUR 3,300+ price tag for the rival IQPC Game QA and Localization Conference.

Given the success of Game Global and the continued operation of the Brand2Global event, it’s fair to assume there is room for more industry-specific localization conferences.

4. TMS-buying rampage

Img: XTM

Virtually every client company we’ve spoken to at Locworld is looking for a new translation management system. Some were looking for their first solution while others were migrating from heavy systems to more lightweight cloud-based solutions. This trend has been picked up by language technology companies which brought a record number of salespeople and unveiled new offerings.

Both Memsource and XTM had 9-person teams onsite (we’ve never seen so many of them in one place before!)

24translate

Swiss-German LSP 24translate introduced the freshly-launched 24contenthub. While young in its feature set, this vendor system has a unique set of MS Office connectors that add buttons for sending documents to translation from MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

STAR Group

STAR Group presented an updated STAR CLM – a powerful enterprise TMS that has the features but suffers from a lack of good marketing.

Donnelley Language Solutions

Donnelley Language Solutions presented a revamped version of MultiTrans TMS.

SDL TMS

SDL’s new ManTra (rebranded SDL TMS) was discussed and mentioned in a few conversations.

Every buyer talked about the need for integration as well as end-to-end automation, and shared the “unless there is an integration, I won’t buy” sentiment. Both TMS providers and custom development companies such as Spartan Software are fully booked and churning out new connectors until the end of the 2018.

5. Translation tech and LSPs gear up for media localization

Entrepreneurs following the news have noticed that all four of the year’s fastest organically-growing companies are in the business of media localization. Their success made ripples that reached the general language services crowd. LSP voiceover and subtitling studios are overloaded, and conventional CAT-tools will roll out media localization capabilities this year. MemoQ will have a subtitle editor with video preview, and a bigger set of features is planned to be released by GlobalLink.

These features will make it easier for traditional LSPs to hop on the departed train of media localization. However, LSP systems won’t compare to specialized software packages that are tailored to dubbing workflow, detecting and labeling individual characters who speak in videos, tagging images with metadata, and the like.

6. Appearances by startup companies

There were a number of start-up companies making an appearance at LocWorld 37. Below are some of the notable participants. 

Xillio

(Rikkert Engels) – first industry conference for this middleware that allows integration of translation systems with about 40 different content systems

ExFluency

(Robert Etches) – matches for coins. A platform that allows users to sell matches from their translation memory for cryptocurrency – fundraising USD 30 million

ContentQuo

(Kirill Soloviev) – recently out of beta, a quality evaluation tool and quality dashboard

Inten.to

(Konstantin Savenkov) – API aggregator – connects to multiple machine translation engines and provides the best one for the job – received USD 1 million funding for development

 

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