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Kimberley Stephens

Author: Kimberley Stephens
Marketing Coordinator, LanguageWire

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The language industry urgently needs to adapt to modern business needs. Henrik Lottrup, LanguageWire CEO & founder, explores why change is needed and how to upgrade LSPs.

Language goes to the heart of business. To sell a product or service, you need to be able to describe it. To draw in customers, you need to tell a story. To engage people, you need to speak their language.

But is the US $50 billion language industry fit for purpose in 2020 and beyond? Can present-day language service providers (LSPs) and translation agencies meet increasing expectations for quality, quantity, speed and cost? 

The simple answer is no.

The language industry is not immune to digital transformation, shifting user behaviour and changing expectations. We need to deliver more, at far lower prices, faster and in new digitally driven ways.


Changing models

Before exploring the changes in the LSP landscape, I’d like to examine the evolution of another industry: web development.

Building a website was once the domain of IT services. A brand would work with a web agency to construct a website and continually work with them for every change made to the site.

But at some point in the late 90s, developers started to automate the repetitive task of developing websites and integrating systems. This automated process for creating websites is what came to be known as a CMS (content management system).

Today’s CMSs are an entirely different beast from those operating 20 years ago. They focus on a connected way of managing and analysing experiences. Modern CMSs, often called ‘experience platforms’, now give brands the power to personalise user experiences in real-time and omnichannel.

You might currently be asking yourself how the evolution of the CMS is a relevant analogy for LSPs and translation agencies.

This is an interesting question, because in our industry, we need to switch from being service providers to technology enablers and advisors, much as the CMS developers went through that change themselves.

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