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Global Content Trends for 2020

Kimberley Stephens

Author: Kimberly Stephens
Marketing Coordinator, LanguageWire

Global Content Trends for 2020

5 key global content trends for 2020. 


Over the past years, predictions for the translation and localisation industry centred on Neural Machine Translation (NMT) and digitalisation, but were also a return to fundamentals – people and talent. With 2020 around the corner, we see some trends continuing unabated with a few new kids on the block. Here are our five key predictions for the coming year.

1. Pervasive Machine Translation

The car wash model – not all content needs to be treated equally in relation to usage and audience – seems to resonate more and more as businesses deal with a higher volume of content but not necessarily more budget for translation. Instead of looking at the 20% of cases where machine translation (MT) produces poor output, companies now look at the 80% of the good output.

MT has become the new Translation Memory (TM) and an additional productivity tool in workflows, which allows for faster, better and cheaper content creation. In 2020, expect to see more custom engines at scale and ubiquitous MT at a much faster pace than before.

When it comes to the technology adoption life cycle, machine learning and artificial intelligence are no longer for “innovators” or “early adopters”. They are permeating business on a deeper level. Organisations are building centralised cross-functional AI departments, to realize ROI. But the long game is how AI integrates with the internet of things (IoT), blockchain and cloud; that is where the big results will come from. Watch this space.

2. Voice search: getting louder!

Voice search is smart. Using voice search not only makes it easier to find information online without pulling out a device, but it also reduces screen time. According to Alphametic, by 2020 50% of searches will be voice searches, and voice-based commerce sales in the US are predicted to rise from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $40 billion by 2022. 

In the movie, Star Trek IV, Engineer Scott tries to talk into a computer mouse to give orders to the ‘computer’. We are used to seeing this happen with real implementations in the consumer world, with devices such as smart speakers (Alexa, Google Home Hub and Facebook’s Portal). This will be the next generation user interface, and 2020 is definitely the year to embark on voice search.

3. Fast, fast, faster

Time-to-market is more than ever a major driver for content owners across business functions. E-commerce has contributed greatly to accelerating demand for faster translation turnaround. This push for compressed turnaround times is affecting all sectors, including regulatory industries.

Corporations expect high workflow automation and a constant push to find additional efficiencies. The answer lies in automation and solutions covering the full content journey from creation to translation and distribution.

With our partner Gelato, we have devised a model whereby customers order translation and print in one go. Technology and reliable processes ensure the timely delivery of content.

4. GDPR security and scale

Security incidents, user data leaks and GDPR have been a core C-level focus in 2019. Some of the higher profile global cases of data leaks included Facebook, Quora, Exactis and Marriott.

We predict more in-flight masking, and encryption technologies becoming de rigueur in 2020.

However, it is clear that some businesses, particularly in the US, have not taken the GDPR opportunity to bring in continuous auditing and monitoring; either they favour point-in-time compliance or decide not to serve EU-based consumers. Expect to see more impact of GDPR in 2020.

We also see better security standards being required by translation buyers. We saw a noted jump in this requirement in the past two years, with lengthy Information Security and Risk Assessment audits increasingly becoming the norm during RFP and tender processes. Expect more of this in 2020, where companies will instil their standards down the supply chain and expect partners to scale up their security measures.

5. The talent gap

Alongside technology, customer service (particularly responsiveness) is reported to be the number 1 strength sought after by customers. Yet the availability of localisation talent is a challenge for many businesses.

This may seem to contradict the automation drive. However, while processes are increasingly automated, there is an increased need for more skilled project managers who advise customers on their content strategy and behave as a true extension of their localisation teams.

Characteristics of an expert project manager

Project managers ensure the optimal delivery of translation services. Customer intimacy is a real differentiator and emotional intelligence a required skill of project managers.


2020 will bring exciting developments within the technology and AI space. With demands for content increasing, especially as digital technologies evolve, machine learning solutions will be necessary for faster content delivery that meets quality standards and falls within the budget.

We have already seen rapid developments in machine translation, which are a testament to the growing need to optimise content workflows.

If you haven’t yet considered voice search in your marketing mix, now is the time.

And, good news for us humans, machines won’t be able to replace us just yet. The role of project managers will remain a core focus across the content industry because project management teams play a crucial and collaborative role in ensuring a deep understanding of your brand and content needs.

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