ATC UK Language Services Industry Survey and Report 2023


2023-10-02 01:00 Nimdzi Insights


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Foreword Every other year, the ATC’s UK Language Services Industry Survey and Report charts the trends and drivers of the second-largest national market of language services, the United Kingdom. Every other year, the report gives us invaluable insights into how the UK’s language services market is developing, enables ATC member companies to benchmark their business and services against the wider industry landscape, and informs our friends, partners and stakeholders across the UK, EU and the world. This 2023 Report is no exception. This much we know today: the UK’s language services industry is diverse and resilient. It has not just weathered several crises over the past two years, but bounced back even stronger. Within the UK landscape, the majority of language service companies (LSCs) have turned the past years’ challenges into successful growth strategies and have diversified service and technology portfolios. They continue to support a largely domestic market, and to facilitate international business and export growth. However, what we also know is that this landscape is not the same for everyone, and that we are starting to see gaps emerge between micro, small and medium-sized companies. Micro companies – those turning over up to GBP 2 million – are not growing at the same rate as small and medium-sized companies. What we don’t know is where the journey will take us next. This report marks a pivotal moment in the language services industry, one where the initial buzz around AI-enabled services is dying down and the hard hands-on work of figuring out how to leverage new technologies in language services processes begins. As the UK’s leading association for language service companies, the ATC is committed to supporting member companies of all shapes, sizes and operational models. In the coming years, outstanding service, client-focused solutions and sustainable growth will be at the heart of all of our members’ businesses. We will support their journey by opening doors and building bridges to commercial collaborations with business organisations and client-side trade associations, and signposting tangible, concrete ways in which to integrate new technical solutions into their service offering. It is our pleasure to present to you this report. We hope that in it you will find valuable insights that inspire you to prepare your business for what is around the corner. Raisa McNab, CEO, Association of Translation Companies Information contained in this report Methodology The 2023 ATC Language Industry Survey collected information from respondents on their companies’ performance for 2022. Revenue, growth figures, rates and employee numbers are for 2022. Business challenges and strategies were analysed for the current year 2023. Where relevant, data from the previous 2021 ATC Industry Report is referenced. In addition to obtaining data via the survey, Nimdzi conducted a series of follow-up interviews during the months of July and August 2023 with LSC leaders to go beyond the numbers and look for qualitative insights into the day-to-day challenges their companies are facing. Data collected in the 2023 ATC survey and during the interviews are anonymous, and no identifying details are disclosed throughout the report. The only exception is when referencing revenue data collected during the Nimdzi 100 research in early 2023, where language service companies participating in the research explicitly agreed to the publication of their revenue figures. These appear in the 20 Largest Language Service Companies in the UK section further in the report. In addition to the data collected in the 2023 ATC survey, the follow-up interviews, and Nimdzi’s own data on trends in the language services industry, the ATC and Nimdzi Insights partnered with specialists from across the industry to bring you expert insights on select topics and related trends. A thank you goes out to the following people: Cristina Marín Garcés, Senior Localisation Manager at Deliveroo John Goldsbrough, UK International Trade Adviser Steve Higgins, CEO at Mondia Technologies Andrew Jones, Global Language Services Director at Adaptive Globalization Executive summary 1. The UK holds an important place in the global language services ecosystem. The UK has cemented its spot as the largest market for language services outside the United States and China. The estimated market size for language services in the UK is between GBP 1.94 to 2.20 billion in 2022. 2. In the last two years, UK companies have recorded above-average growth. UK LSCs have been enjoying strong growth over the past two years (15.5% in 2021 and 12.5% in 2022), outpacing that of the global language services industry. 2021 was a bumper year for the language services industry as a whole, followed by a more normalised (but still good) 2022. Caution is advised, however: 2023 likely holds the promise of a slowdown. 3. The domestic market is the largest revenue generator. UK LSCs see the most demand – and untapped opportunity – in its domestic market, with almost 50% of revenue generated from UK clients. After that, continental Europe (23%) and North America (23%) are the two strongest trade partners for the UK. 4. LSCs’ financial markers are sound. There is good news on the margin front: LSCs are able to maintain healthy margins for both translation (49.5%, on average) and interpreting services (35.6%), well in line with industry averages. Moreover, on balance, companies have adopted the right reflexes to mitigate the constraints imposed by both the economy and outside forces. 41.5% of LSCs have reported increased profitability, and profitability has remained level for close to 30% of companies. 5. More good news: prices are on the rise. Everyone has been talking about it for a while, and in 2022, LSC leaders finally stopped tiptoeing around it and decided to review prices with their clients. This is more noticeable for companies offering translation (40.6% of translation companies raised their prices as opposed to 30% of interpreting-focused ones). Naturally, mileage will vary – 25% of translation businesses lowered their prices – but the precedent is set, and there is no time like the present to try and renegotiate SLAs. 6. AI: Positive sentiment prevails. The hype is over. The future is now. Clients are the driving force behind the adoption of AI, and LSCs globally are rolling up their sleeves and testing where AI-powered technology can be leveraged to open new service lines, augment existing ones or drive cost efficiencies. A healthy debate around AI needs to continue, especially as questions around the ethical use of AI solutions persist but, by and large, optimism carries the day. 7. MT is the big winner of 2022. Lost among the hype surrounding ChatGPT and the like, machine translation (MT) has been quietly making ground, with 70% of UK LSCs actively offering MT-related services in 2022 (up from 46% in 2020). What’s even more striking is the fact that one out of three LSCs has been using MT for over 50% of their projects. Questions about the viability of MT need to be put to bed once and for all: MT is a central piece of technology for growth-minded companies. 8. The UK is not insulated from the effects of global events. LSC leaders agree: Macroeconomic trends such as inflation, the rising cost of living and other factors do influence their business, whether affecting the underlying cost structure or burdening their people. Coupled with pricing pressures and a significant portion of new business being put on hold by clients grappling with their own budgetary restrictions, the industry has been in wait-and-see mode for much of the first half of 2023. Respondent company profile This report is designed to represent the core audience of the Association of Translation Companies: Established mid-market providers active in the United Kingdom. In 2023, the ATC survey received 64 valid responses from individual language companies active in the UK market, with mid-market companies (those with annual revenues between GBP 2.5 and 10 million) making up a third of all survey participants. Participants by geographic location The vast majority of all participating companies this year are headquartered in the UK (87.5%). Just 6.3% are based elsewhere in Europe, while North America, Asia, Oceania and Africa each host 1.6% of respondents (although all of them indicated deriving a portion of their revenue from UK-based clientele). Respondents by size category Survey respondents range from sole traders and small companies with revenues under GBP 1 million to some of the largest providers in the industry that report revenues greater than GBP 100 million per year. One-third of respondents are medium-sized, with revenues between GBP 2.5 and 10 million in 2022. Almost half of participating companies reported revenues between GBP 1 and 2.5 million (17.8%) or under GBP 1 million (31.3%), while a smaller number of survey respondents reported revenues above GBP 10 million (17.8%). Women-run language service companies In 2021, we reported that, although the share of companies owned by women was high compared to the industry average (37.3%), the total revenue generated by these companies was disproportionately low, accounting for just 12.6% of the total reported revenues. This year, we are pleased to report that the figures have balanced somewhat. While women run an even more impressive 41% of surveyed companies, these now generate a third of total reported revenues between them. The UK language services market: key figures Market size We estimate the current size of the language services market in the UK at between GBP 1.94 and 2.20 billion. This is up from the GBP 1.7 billion we estimated in 2021, and the figure cements the UK’s place as the largest single-country market for language services in Europe. On balance, the last two years coming out of the global pandemic have been very good for language service companies worldwide, especially in the UK, where LSCs have (once again) proven their resilience and remain on the path of growth despite the adverse circumstances. Looking at the top 20 largest LSCs in the UK, they represent GBP 1.6 billion on their own. The 20 largest language service companies in the UK While most of this report draws on data collected via the 2023 ATC industry survey, the following table uses data from the 2023 Nimdzi 100. It ranks the 20 largest providers of language services headquartered in the UK, according to revenues from the latest financial year. 13 out of 20 companies on the list below are ATC member and partner companies. The 2023 Nimdzi 100 lists 11 companies based in the UK, making it the second most represented country at the top of the language services industry after the United States (28). Source: Nimdzi Insights, based on the figures reported in 2023 Nimdzi 100 (converted to GBP), including updates from annual reports and the latest market research Notes: (FY) fiscal year, figures for the latest financial year (verified with financial reports) (v) verified, data provided by companies (e) estimated revenue, based on extensive industry research Some companies have the same revenue due to currency rounding. However, the ranking order is accurate considering the second decimal. UK is a competitive market While most of the UK language services landscape comprises small and medium-sized LSCs, the biggest players concentrate a lot of the attention. When asked who they see as their biggest competitors in the UK market, survey respondents most frequently cited TransPerfect and Lionbridge despite these being US-based LSCs. This further underscores the fact that the language services industry is a global, deeply interconnected industry. Survey respondents mentioned 61 different companies in total as biggest competitors. Often, LSCs look at companies of the same size (and larger) as their direct competition, as well as those that are in the same vertical and/or those that have geographical proximity to them. Other notable competitors include RWS, Mission Translate, DA Languages, THG Fluently, and Global Lingo. The bottom line is that, not unlike other countries, the UK market is very competitive – and attracting the attention of overseas LSCs. Revenue and growth between 2020 and 2022 Looking back on 2020 is surreal for many people. It was a year unlike anything we had experienced before, and life ground to a halt as much of the world was effectively shut down by a global pandemic. Many companies faced new business challenges, and in the 2021 edition of the ATC Industry Report, we noted that just 56% of companies experienced net positive growth in 2020. While we wouldn’t wish for 2020 to repeat itself, it did make way for a stellar year in 2021. Many companies reported above-average growth as the industry returned to full swing, explaining the impressive growth rates in 2021 in the table below. As the industry recovered and rebalanced, growth rates also settled in 2022. The growth figures of 2022 may pale compared to 2021, but they are certainly nothing to baulk at. Average growth of 12.5% across all participating companies is still impressive and notably higher than the median industry growth rate of 5.0%, as reported in the 2023 Nimdzi 100. The data suggest that smaller companies were hit hardest by the unpredictable economy over the past two years. Companies with revenues under GBP 1 million experienced the highest growth rates in 2021 (24.6%) and the lowest in 2022 (indeed, the only negative average growth rate, at -6.0%). Larger companies seemed to fare best between 2021 and 2022, with the smallest decline in growth rates over the past year. Growth by revenue segment, 2021 vs 2022 Percentage of companies with net positive growth, 2022 While the growth rate is a great metric to consider, it also pays to look at the share of companies experiencing net positive growth. Across the board, 65.7% of companies experienced net positive growth from 2021 to 2022. Here, too, we can see how small companies were hit harder than large companies in the past financial year. Where 80% of companies with revenue above GBP 1 million experienced net positive growth in 2022, just 30% of companies with revenue less than GBP 1 million had the same fortune. Productivity The productivity of a company can be measured by calculating the average revenue generated per employee. The average productivity reported in the 2023 ATC survey was GBP 157,830 per employee. The highest revenue generated per employee was GBP 773,372, while the lowest was GBP 10,220. Results of this survey suggest that larger companies tend to be more productive – not only do the average revenues generated per employee increase for each higher revenue bracket, but indeed the companies with the highest and lowest productivity statistics are equally among the largest and smallest companies overall. Gross margins by line of business Average gross margins have increased slightly for both translation and interpreting, having increased by just over 2% for each service line. These align with global averages (40-50% for translation and 30-40% for interpreting). Margins for translation services ranged from 26% to 77%, and the average margin was 49.5%. For interpreting, margins ranged from 10% to 60%, with an average margin of 35.6%. In a positive sign, companies across the different size classes have reported consistent margins for both translation and interpreting services. Gross margins detailed Profit lines Almost exactly one-third of respondents report that their profitability decreased in 2022, according to how they measure profitability, and another third report that their profitability stayed level with 2021. Two out of five respondents (41.5%) report that their profitability increased last year. The average decrease in profitability was 14.8%, and the average increase in profitability was 20.0%. Another measure of profitability is a company’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation). This year, the highest EBITDA reported was 55%, but the average was a more predictable 19.7%. Mergers and acquisitions have their ebb and flow The two main streams of activity in the M&A realm – those who are interested in selling or acquiring and those who are not – have seen quite some changes over the past two years. 2021 was a record year for M&A activity across the industry, with 62 transactions completed globally. In 2022, this number was down as macroeconomic factors and geopolitical challenges put a damper on everyone’s excitement. Overall, looking closely at the former group, the language services industry is witnessing a significant demand-supply disparity. While in the 2021 ATC survey, 31.3% of respondents were interested in receiving offers, in 2023 it is down to 24.3% (compared to 34.3% globally). On the demand side, however, we are seeing a rise of more than 10% (35.1% of UK companies in 2022, still behind 52.4% of global companies looking to acquire). This widening gap between the demand for LSCs and what the industry currently offers characterises a seller's market, meaning sellers hold an upper hand over buyers. As to the latter group, there's a clear trend towards stabilisation in the UK. While in 2021, only 31.1% of participants were disinterested in M&A activities, that number has surged to 54.1% in 2023. This suggests that UK companies are now shifting their attention towards opportunities that can spur organic growth. This claim is supported by additional responses, which reveal that in 2023, merely 21% of respondents acquired a company, while a vast majority of 78.9% did not make any such acquisition. Characteristics of the UK language services market Top services in the UK market The results from this year’s survey differ from the 2021 ATC Industry Report. Translation and localisation remain the bread-and-butter service for LSCs globally. Subtitling holds fast as the number two service on offer by UK-based LSCs (73%). However, this year, we see machine translation and post-editing services usurp third place (70%), which is a significant 24% surge compared to 2021. When analysing what services stand out, there are a few things to note: The sample of respondents between the 2021 and 2023 ATC Industry Reports differ, so the variance in results is to be expected. That said, what certainly holds true is that most of the services LSCs offer in 2023 are by now tried and tested – on the surface, it seems there isn’t much in terms of innovation that LSCs are doing... just yet. On that note, the jump in MT is the one trend to keep an eye out for. In 2023, developing MT-related services has become a key area for LSCs considering scaling up their operations, and the new number for the UK comes close to the global benchmark for 2023 (74%, as per the Nimdzi 100). Beyond MT uptake being driven by clients who are looking for fast and cost-efficient solutions for large volumes of localisable content, there is a sub-theme in the MT area: LSCs of all sizes leveraging MT as a tried-and-tested alternative to AI solutions, which are comparatively farther behind when it comes to their applicability for most translation and localisation scenarios. The services around developing, implementing and leveraging generative AI (arguably the biggest storyline of the first half of 2023 in the language services industry) are low on this list (here covered by “data/AI services”). Despite all the buzz surrounding ChatGPT and the like, the reality is that AI-related services are, for now, mostly within the reach of only the largest LSCs that have the scale, necessary backing and access to tech talent that most SMEs simply don’t. That said, LSCs of all sizes that are unafraid to think outside of the box have started offering their clients AI solutions in parallel to more classic human-centric options. Here, LSCs are reframing the discussion as expert validators of the AI output. Early returns from those doing so: It has been working just fine and it is a viable avenue to monetise their expertise. Main services on offer by UK LSCs Top verticals serviced by UK LSCs Among the plethora of industry segments that have a need for language services, the regulated industries retake the crown as the most-serviced sectors by ATC survey respondents in 2022: Legal (72%), life sciences (69%) and finance (49%) complete the top three. Unsurprisingly, highly regulated industries – where the provision of language services is fundamental – offer LSCs a steady source of work if not the closest thing there is to a guarantee. Creative industries (49%) and the technology, IT & software sector (49%) round out the top five, reflecting their global reach and companies’ need to cater to audiences across every corner of the globe. Interestingly, only six out of 40 companies answering the question about which sectors they service indicated they work only in one sector: UK LSCs are active across many industries, striving to diversify their client portfolio. Industries companies service In this year’s survey, we also inquired about respondent’s plans for expanding their presence in certain verticals. The proof is in the pudding: LSC decision-makers opt for the safe bet (or the closest thing to it) that the regulated industries represent. Leading this trend is life sciences (48%), closely pursued by legal (41%), healthcare (37%) and manufacturing (37%). It is important to note, however, that this includes companies already present in these sectors and looking to expand their reach, as well as companies that want to continue diversifying their activity even further. Industries companies strategically plan to expand their presence in the upcoming period Where the clients are As an industry study focused on the UK market, it should be no surprise that almost all companies surveyed are active in the United Kingdom and other European markets (96.6%). Most survey respondents also generate some revenue in North America (86.2%). Just under a quarter of companies operate in Asia, and even fewer are active in South America and Oceania (13.8% each) or Africa (6.9%). When it comes to the share of revenue generated in each region, the picture is slightly different. Almost half of all revenue generated by survey respondents is derived from domestic clients (49.5%). Another 45% is generated elsewhere in Europe and North America. The remaining 5.3% originates in Asia (2.2%), Africa (1.2%), South America (1%) and Oceania (0.9%). These figures have remained almost unchanged over the past two years, especially in regions where revenue share was already low. The share of revenue generated in Asia fell by 4% but was offset in part by small increases in revenue share across Africa (0.9%), South America (0.7%), and North America (0.5%). Closer to home, more interesting changes can be observed. Domestic revenue share increased by 5.2% from 2020, and, at the same time, revenue generated in the rest of Europe fell by 3.6%. This follows a decrease in revenue share in the rest of Europe between 2018 and 2020 (-4.4%). While the changes are only slight for now, they may well indicate a longer-term trend as the after-effects of Brexit take hold and trade with other European countries diminishes. Interview: UK companies’ outlook on international trade in a challenging climate On the back of what have been two strong years for UK LSCs, it is opportune to contextualise their fortunes within the broader performance of the UK’s export industry. To that end, Nimdzi Insights teamed up with John Goldsbrough, a UK-based international trade adviser, to discuss his perspectives on the UK’s export performance, the varied ways UK companies can benefit from resources shared by the government to help them along the journey towards international success and the role and opportunities available to UK LSCs when supporting the client industries. Question: How has international trade evolved for the UK over the past two years? What global events have had the greatest impact? John: Export bounced back strongly after the pandemic. 2021-2022 were growth years for everyone. Total exports in value for the UK have been up by 24%, out of which goods have been up 28%, and services by 21%. This growth has continued into the first half of 2023. A large part of this value growth has come from inflation and the export of oil and gas from the UK at international prices. 80% of exports are done remotely – the exchange by digital transfer is a key part of the exported service. Non-EU exports have grown more than EU exports for obvious reasons. To compensate for the downturn in EU markets, the focus of UK companies has been turning towards the US and Canada, both markets presenting clear opportunities. What is less evident at this stage are exports into the high-growth markets of Asia: previously China, but now Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, just to name a few. In the longer term and beyond the withdrawal from the EU, the government sees the fast-growing markets of Asia as a strategic driver of growth. In this respect, exports to South America are farther behind, despite the region offering interesting demographic dynamics. Question: UK LSCs have demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity and showed strong growth in 2021 and 2022. Does this surprise you? How do UK language service companies compare to other UK industries in this regard? John: The sustained level of growth is surprising, but is a very positive thing. It does fit a pattern across exported goods and services. Now, when looking at companies of different sizes, we see the largest companies having the most success, with the UK SMEs farther behind. Post-pandemic, the largest companies have been able to pivot, develop new products, and expand into new verticals more easily than smaller companies. These strategic decisions require money and effort, and SMEs don’t necessarily have the means to invest as much as the bigger companies. For them, cash flow considerations, or hiring and retaining the right staff are more pressing matters. For this type of company, the focus tends to be more on retaining existing customers before they can expand their ambitions. Question: What measures are being taken to promote the competitiveness of UK exports on the global stage? John: There are quite a few resources available for UK-based companies to develop their exports. Question: With all this information being available, what are some of the challenges companies may encounter in developing their exporting activity? John: There are two types of challenges. For one, knowing what is available and what is most relevant for the company at its particular stage are the biggest challenges. For companies that are at an early stage of their exporting journey, a lot of exporting activity starts out being passive: Instead of formulating an export plan from the start, they respond reactively to the business opportunity, and before too long, they have gone down the road without understanding the risks associated with exporting. On the other hand, for larger, well-established companies it can be different. They may not necessarily need the advice as they already have the in-house knowledge or have been doing business overseas for a while. So they often come with more specific challenges – they know what the rules and regulations are, but they want to bring their issue to the attention of the government so this becomes a government-to-government point of discussion. They may look at the government to take a more active role in economic diplomacy on their topic. Question: In the face of geopolitical uncertainties and disruptions, what key sectors or industries in the UK are best positioned for international growth – and stand to benefit the most from the global savvy of UK language service companies? John: Generally, the knowledge and tech-based companies that have an added-value product or service are the ones that are more likely to sustain growth. There are many examples of industries that have been doing well: the creative industries, but also industries such as business consultancy, training and recruitment, travel, and communications. On the tech side, anything to do with fintech, educational technology, medtech, cybersecurity and all areas of software. Then, in the manufacturing sphere, it’s the medical devices, and biotechnology. Then there is the food and drink sector, whose fortunes have been hot and cold over the years, but still remains a growing industry, with many SMEs especially having found success in this area. The fact remains that there are a multitude of sectors that are export-driven. When it comes to the role of LSCs, they have a place in the process. The continuous education element especially cannot be overstated: explaining the importance of localisation to clients, and especially highlighting the benefits from the perspective of the end-consumers having access to localised products and services is crucial. Another angle that LSCs should leverage is that they offer deep knowledge of the cultural specificities of the targeted markets. Often, export managers face the hurdles of how to communicate and how to do business in particular markets. Where there has previously been positive momentum in discussions, the opportunity suddenly grinds to a halt. This requires preparation from the export managers, and LSCs can certainly help with this. Most of the competitors of UK export businesses – say, the French, Germans or Italians – are quite possibly more used to the fact they need to tailor their approach to the specificities of the varied markets they are active in. Question: Given the evolving regulatory frameworks and trade policies worldwide, how does the UK Department for International Trade work to balance ensuring the country's economic interests and upholding high standards of environmental protection, labour rights, and other socio-economic factors in its trade agreements? John: This is always going to be a delicate balance to strike. One way to go about this in a two-sided negotiation is by the UK setting an example and enlarging the discussion to these matters. In more specific terms, what we’re seeing during trade negotiations, both the new ones and also the ones being renegotiated, is that the government is focusing on modernising and updating them, reflecting the new realities of the market today. For example, the agreement with Singapore is just about digital trade. The government is always trying to include issues such as recognition of qualifications, women’s equality or human rights, just to name a few, as part of the negotiations. However, these considerations are often secondary or nice to have when the modernisation of trade agreements in itself is the primary objective. Question: Given the emergence of AI as a key variable, how do you think it will influence the landscape and capabilities of UK businesses looking to export? John: There needs to be leadership and initiative across governments to develop a structure that doesn’t just reflect the use of AI but also the implications of AI for the society of the future. We saw how business transformed when the internet came along, and then what happened with the emergence of social media – by now, we’ve seen enough to know AI requires proactive action instead of the industries being just reactionary. It hasn’t manifested yet, but there is a great opportunity at both the government level and the sectoral level for LSCs to come together and discuss how to structure and organise the use of AI. There are immediate areas where if we’re using AI, companies need to make it clear and transparent to whoever is using the material that this is from AI. Pricing trends in the UK Since the start of 2023 – and arguably even earlier – there have been whispers of changing winds whenever the conversation turns to pricing trends. The ‘race to the bottom’ may not be dead, but leaders of companies, at the very least, seem to be making up their minds about using this lever to affect their fortunes. By and large, prices in the UK are on the rise. This is especially true of translation services, where 40.6% of companies reported increasing their prices in 2022 (compared to just 14.3% in 2020). Interpreting prices are more stable for now, but there’s a clear lean toward increasing rather than decreasing prices in this industry, too (30% of companies increased their prices for interpreting, as opposed to 20.7% in 2020). Unfortunately, in the current economic climate, these responses alone may be misleading. While the data shows that companies are tending to increase prices, many companies report that these increases just barely keep up with recent inflation rates in the UK. It brings up the question of whether a price increase can be called that if it’s not a real increase in economic terms? Interpreting in the UK: Halfway between growth and price pressures For the interpreting market globally, many of the same observations apply as for the larger translation and localisation market: Post-pandemic, companies offering interpreting services have been recording stellar growth rates (in the 2023 Nimdzi Interpreting Index, we reported growth of +52.6% between 2020 and 2022 for the top 34 companies in the global interpreting services market). By and large, this was spurred by the backlog of work accumulated during the pandemic being released back into the market, as well as the emergence of remote interpreting services as a viable alternative to onsite interpreting work. In 2023, LSCs report a certain normalisation, with volumes for remote assignments decreasing as onsite assignments return. That said, with clients and service companies having experienced the “new normal”, the expectation is for the demand for remote interpreting to continue to grow nonetheless (albeit more moderately than during the height of the pandemic). So what is the place of the UK in the global interpreting market? UK interpreting market characteristics Nimdzi estimates the UK to be the second largest interpreting market in the world after the United States, at close to GBP 700 million in 2022. The demand for interpreting services in the UK continues to be primarily driven by the public sector (with an estimated 80% of the work coming from public sector buyers). Compared to other interpreting markets around the world, the UK has a mature market. Let’s touch on some of the specificities of the public sector buying mechanisms. We estimate that, currently, about 80% of the UK’s public sector interpreting spend is going through framework contracts. Framework agreements act as a catalogue of services that make it easier for procurement organisations within entities in the public sector to select a provider for their language services needs. For that purpose, the frameworks set out a number of conditions that potential suppliers need to meet to qualify to be part of the framework. Once accepted, LSCs are allowed to bid on contracts that are being tendered within the framework. Both on the side of public sector clients as well as on the side of the LSC it is not always desirable to be using the frameworks. To be part of a framework LSCs have to meet many specific criteria and are also required to provide a whole range of services and languages (or face steep fines otherwise). This is not for everyone. Some LSCs may have specialised in only a certain number of languages or a specific interpreting mode. Others want to avoid the risk of facing steep fines if they cannot fulfil assignments. And again others want to be able to negotiate better margins with their direct clients and face less competition than they would in a framework. From a client perspective, it may also seem easier to just have one trusted LSC with whom they can negotiate their own terms rather than going through an official big tendering process. Challenges in the public sector While the demand for interpreting services is increasing due to globalisation, immigration, the ongoing refugee crisis and also an ageing population – which, in general, affects health services and therefore also medical interpreting – government budgets are continuously being cut. This means that price pressure is particularly high in the public sector. As in most countries, LSCs in the UK are responding to this pressure with a price battle – because, more often than not, the cheapest wins. This is slowly but surely becoming a race to the bottom, although as evidenced above, rates for interpreting have largely remained stable over the last two years. While the status quo might still work out for a while, this is not a sustainable situation and in some countries the knock-on effects can already be felt. For instance, both in the US and in the UK LSCs are struggling to find interpreters and keep the talent because of low rates and challenging working conditions. There is a consensus that interpreters need to have an incentive to stay in the industry. The struggle is similar in Sweden where many interpreters have other day or night jobs to make ends meet. How to win contracts in the UK public sector Depending on who you ask, answers will be on opposite sides of the scale. The majority of LSCs in the UK market interviewed by Nimdzi Insights report that they feel pressure to reduce the rates for their services if they want to stand a chance at winning a public sector contract. That being said, the same companies also stated that this price pressure has remained relatively consistent over the past few years. On the other end of the spectrum, organisations that put out framework agreements argue that while price is certainly a factor, quality is more important. For instance, the award criteria for the framework agreement from the HealthTrust Europe (HTE) gave a weighting of 65 percent quality and 35 percent price. In an interview with another framework organisation, it was stressed that there is a perception in the market that the lowest price wins, and that the price battle is rather driven by the LSCs themselves, who inadvertently set market rates lower and lower. In Nimdzi’s assessment, the two perceptions most likely influence one another and jointly contribute to the price drops. That being said, the UK has a well-established interpreting market, and buyers in the public sector are educated enough to realise that awarding large contracts to the cheapest bidder cannot yield the desired results. What Nimdzi’s analysis has shown is that, even more so than quality and price, scalability is the most essential factor for winning public sector contracts. Contracts in the public sector are large, and require interpreting providers to fill thousands of assignments per year. More often than not, on an ad hoc basis and for a variety of languages and specialisations. Especially when contracts are only awarded to one provider, the risk for the buyer is high — and so is the pressure for the provider, because if assignments cannot be filled, there is no backup. In the public sector, this can potentially mean that court cases, medical appointments, or police interviews are left unfilled. Staffing and hiring trends in the UK The below graph illustrates the distribution of roles covered by full-time, in-house employees across companies of varying sizes in the UK. Project managers remain on top of the hiring list for LSCs of all sizes. 100% of all surveyed companies reported having in-house project managers on staff. The percentages are up compared to the 2021 report (an average of 88% in 2021). They reaffirm what we’ve already known: project managers are a key cog in the organisation of the LSC and its ability to deliver on its client commitments. In-house salespeople are another crucial component of an LSC that wants to safeguard its growth. Numerous studies by Nimdzi Insights have shown that employing salespeople can translate into higher growth for the company. Interestingly, however, the averages across the different company sizes are down compared to 2021 (from 78%). While the survey has not directly verified this, it is easy to surmise that under-performing staff may have been reduced during times of economic downturn. Overall, two out of three surveyed LSCs have salespeople on staff. When it comes to having in-house linguists and reviewers, the numbers are up compared to 2021 (62% of surveyed companies employ linguists against 50% in 2021). These remain comparatively high numbers against the industry average. The last category of jobs, technology experts, software engineers and solution architects (under “technology staff”), is a new entry in the 2023 survey, and the underlying data will not come as surprising. Larger companies tend to employ technology specialists more frequently than small ones. With the growing importance of technology in localisation processes, there is a key decision looming for LSC leaders – stand pat or invest in tech-savvy talent that can help broaden the company’s horizons and further its appeal to a new set of clients. Comparing this year's trends to the results of the previous survey, there have been subtle changes in the hiring and staffing strategies of LSCs over the past two years. Revenue thresholds continue to influence proceedings – sometimes LSCs can simply do more with more budget. In parallel, the after-effects of Brexit and the uncertainty surrounding the economic climate have no doubt contributed to what is a fairly conservative hiring environment – although, as we will see, UK LSCs seem to be bucking this trend. The top and the bottom of the hiring chain Close to two-thirds of the respondents (63%) have voiced their will to hire for new positions. Overall, this counts as a very positive development (albeit one to keep an eye out on in the coming months), especially for the UK job market, as Nimdzi Insights’ ongoing business confidence study that includes a global panel of respondents has shown that only 23% of companies plan to hire, with 66% of companies anticipating the staffing levels to remain the same throughout the rest of 2023. UK companies indicated project managers (75%), salespeople (60%), linguists (30%) and marketing specialists (25%) are the top roles that they will be seeking to fill in the coming year. When comparing roles that have increased in numbers against those that have decreased in recent months, the survey respondents have highlighted project managers (50%), sales roles (38.5%) and linguists (30.8%) as the top three positions they have been hiring for. On the flipside, when asked about the top three roles that decreased in numbers and/or importance over the last year, account managers (35.7%), interns/students (28.6%) and project managers (28.6%) are the ones on the slide. It is interesting to note project managers feature among the most hired positions but also those that are on the slide. This is indicative of the varying fortunes of the respondent LSCs: with business fluctuating and the LSCs’ need to continue to optimise the cost structure and/or insert more automation into the processes, some may get by with fewer project managers on staff as before. Interview: An overview of salary-related trends in the UK Question: How have the salaries in the language services space evolved over the last two years? Andrew: The last two years have been a bit of a roller coaster for wages. In 2021 in particular we saw massive increases in salaries, across all locations. This continued in the first half of 2022. However, since the second half of 2022 we have started to see a plateau and even a slight reduction in the salaries being offered. Whilst our tracking still has wages up slightly year on year, there is no longer the demand and high wages from the SaaS market that drag up salaries in our industry. We are currently seeing wages up between 1-5% since 2022 but with some roles such as business development director or account executive actually standing still in salaries being offered. Question: How do salaries in the UK compare to other countries? Andrew: Salaries in the UK have generally stabilised the same as in other countries. What we are seeing in the UK is that we continue to see a big regional difference that isn’t as pronounced elsewhere. For example, project managers especially in London, or those that work for the largest LSCs or language tech businesses still earn around 20-25% more than those working for LSCs outside of London. Question: Are companies in the UK competitive enough when they want to attract talent for key roles in sales or production? Andrew: UK companies are generally in line with competitor companies in Europe when it comes to salaries. However, they are losing out on talent (both sales and production) to the digital and SaaS industries. 2021-2022, in particular, saw a large swathe of talented sales professionals move across to the higher-paying tech companies, although a strong downturn in tech has arrested this move over the last six months. With regards to operations staff, the main ‘brain drain’ comes from the digital market where talented multilingual project managers are being attracted by higher salaries and better progression opportunities. Question: In the autumn of 2021, you had not seen Brexit affecting salaries much. Has this substantially changed, and have salaries finally met the demand? Andrew: There is no indication that Brexit is affecting salaries as the plateauing of salaries seems to be happening across Europe. Generally, we believe that there is now greater parity between supply and demand. Question: Economic pressures are impacting the cost of living worldwide, especially in the UK. From your perspective, has this had any impact on salaries yet, and how do you anticipate it affecting salaries in the coming months/years? Andrew: A tough question to answer. Whilst, undeniably, salaries have increased dramatically since January 2021, most of this rise happened pre-cost of living crisis so the impact on salaries has not been that great because they were already rising. One area we would say that there has been a strong impact on though is with entry-level roles – in general, the expectations of junior candidates have increased due to the increased cost of living. Question: We’ve previously observed that salaries can vary across different parts of the UK. Has this trend changed as the industry has embraced remote work, and if so, how? Andrew: In short, no. We still see a big disparity in the UK around London, despite the increase in remote working. While part of this may be down to expectations – people who previously worked in London being unwilling to take a pay cut – it might also be down to an increasing number of LSCs looking at hybrid working, so even if you don't have to be in the office five days a week, you still have to live close enough to commute for one or two days. Technology In 2023, technology is a fundamental part of delivering language services. LSCs are no strangers to developing their technological skills and service offering. In fact, companies need to continue developing pointed language technology expertise if they harbour any ambition of scaling up their operations. Technologies used by LSCs Most respondents (82.1%) have incorporated a translation management system (TMS) into their workflows. One of the key findings of this year’s survey compared to 2021 is the surge in popularity of machine translation (MT) among UK LSCs (71.4% of companies using it compared to 58.0% in 2020). Today, MT is the second most commonly used piece of language technology in the language services industry (and you could make the case that its popularity outside industry circles outweighs that of conventional TMS solutions). One global pandemic later, there is a notable shift that can also be observed in the interpreting sphere. Video remote interpreting platforms jumped from 9% in 2021 to 28.6% in 2023, while over-the-phone interpreting technology also recorded growth from 12% to 17.9% over the last two years. The survey for this report was conducted during the summer of 2023, at which point most of the early buzz around large language models (LLMs) and generative AI tools has been dying down. Moving from hype to hands-on, 25% of surveyed companies indicated they are already either testing or using LLM-based tools as part of their workflows. That said, most of the language services industry is still figuring out how AI solutions can benefit conventional translation and localisation scenarios. However, there is seemingly no middle ground in this debate: spurred by continued demand from the client side, LSCs will be called to choose between pursuing this technology or foregoing it. The collective experience of the MT/NMT love/hate-to-adoption cycle of the not-so-distant past is repeating itself. In 2023, developing technological expertise is no longer optional. LSCs will be ceding ground to their competition if they don’t remain on top of the technology curve. Preferences in translation management systems The three leading translation management systems (TMS) are well-established market players. Trados is the preferred choice for half of the respondents (50.0%), followed by cloud platforms such as memoQ (36.4%) and Phrase TMS (formerly Memsource) (27.3%). Despite the abundance of TMS options available to LSCs, custom TMS are favoured by almost a quarter of respondents. Custom TMS and XTM share fourth place with 22.7% of companies using them. Preferences in machine translation solutions We already touched on the growing importance of MT in localisation scenarios. Based on the survey responses, LSCs tend to gravitate towards well-established MT providers such as DeepL, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. However, preferences are anything but static – which is a testament to this segment of the language technology market being extremely dynamic and still developing at a fast pace. For example, in the 2021 ATC Industry Report, DeepL shared third place with AWS at 21%, but in 2023, it has surged ahead of the competition and is now leading the pack with 65% of respondents using it. Although the numbers on a per-solution basis might not seem significant, it is clear LSCs are increasingly turning towards MT. A larger market share naturally translates into substantially greater revenue for the tech solution providers than in previous years. The fact that Phrase managed to capture a 12% increase in its market share is remarkable, especially for a company originating in the language services industry and competing with big tech players. Percentage of projects that leverage machine translation Survey results indicate that almost 30% of respondents incorporate MT in over 50% of their projects, while 63% leverage MT for less than a quarter of their projects. The mid-range segment that uses MT for between 25% and 50% of projects accounts for only 7% of respondents. For one-third of respondents, MT has become an indispensable part of the service they provide to their clients. An analysis of MT use across companies in various revenue brackets reveals that over half of the respondents from companies with revenue above GBP 5 million leverage MT on 25% of projects. In contrast, the remaining 41.7% of respondents of this group use MT on more than 50% of projects – simultaneously representing the largest group using MT on most projects. The data points to evidence: as companies grow their revenue, MT becomes a central lever of business growth. This is further supported by the data from the small and medium LSC groups – the smallest companies arguably still remain nimble enough to adopt MT, whereas for companies in the GBP 1 to 5 million range, MT is but one in a series of operational challenges they aim to solve. Proprietary technology Instead of choosing from off-the-shelf software or customising an already available solution, some LSCs prefer building their own software. In general, 64.1% of respondents do not develop proprietary solutions. Among the 35.9% who do, most (87.5%) belong to a revenue bracket exceeding 10 million GBP. On the other side of the spectrum lie the companies that leverage off-the-shelf solutions and, unsurprisingly, fall within the revenue bracket of less than 1 million GBP. However, there is no right or wrong scenario here – the build or buy debate has been going on for years, and both sides of the camp have seen plenty of LSCs (and their clients) reap the benefits of their decisions. Preferences for in-house software development Despite a booming TMS market, the most common in-house language technology being built are translation management systems (69.2%), followed by business management systems (61.5%). About Traduno Question: Over the years and numerous published reports, data have shown that LSCs are particularly apt at developing their own proprietary technology. Why do you think companies should give developing their own tech serious consideration? Steve: I believe the simple answer is that they shouldn’t unless they have access to the right, affordable resources. Otherwise, it's quite an expensive challenge. We pursued it for two main reasons. Firstly, we had a super-talented and cost-effective team of developers. Still, it was a lengthy journey, and we invested heavily. Secondly, back then, our options were limited – the available solutions were either expensive, overly complex, or not suitable for us (sometimes, it was a mix of all three). Our endeavour was a response to challenges the LSCs in the Mondia Technologies group had faced over the years. As an LSC, we understand business, production and operations on all levels. This seamless collaboration led to mutual understanding between the teams regarding how everything functions on both sides. As a result, we now have a mature solution, custom-tailored to manage translation processes and encompass virtually every aspect of the business. While everything started as an in-house development project, it evolved into a separate entity, ensuring equal conditions and treatment for all clients. In scenarios where development resources come at a high cost, we suggest exploring third-party applications. These solutions come with significantly lower investment and are refined by the insights of thousands of users. If it comes from an LSC, rest assured – they most likely have already faced and resolved the very challenges you aim to address. Question: What have you learned during this journey of developing and now launching Traduno as a standalone, commercialised product? Steve: It's been a journey through varied terrain. In the beginning, it was a challenge for all our teams (and I'm not trying to discourage anyone, but a dose of healthy realism is owed to those embarking on this path). Every team had its own unique and correct vision of development. Features were added in a somewhat chaotic manner, sometimes even rolled back and reimagined. We had our share of both errors and successes, but in the end, it was all worth it. At a certain point, something clicked, and we reached a harmonised collaboration. All involved departments understood and embraced an agile model, while the developers gained a deep understanding of our company's processes. This mutual understanding led developers to not only grasp requirements but also correct the course, taking into account the impact on other departments or stages of the process, while making it scalable and easy to use. Question: It’s all about the buyer – what do clients stand to gain by leveraging the tech developed by their partners? Steve: Our solution was crafted to optimise our time and costs. These benefits extend to our end clients – they enjoy improved prices and quicker turnaround times. And there's more to it: one key aspect of Traduno that our clients appreciate is the customer portal. Having recognised the downsides of complex solutions – the steep learning curve and sophisticated workflows – we designed the tool to be sleek and focused solely on its intended purpose. The portal's simplicity has struck a chord with our clients, and feedback confirms that we're on the right track. In fact, some clients with a multi-vendor approach have shifted all their translation work to us due to the centralised simplicity they experience through the portal. This move streamlines their operations and improves their internal KPIs. They simply love it. Question: Pushing this line of thinking further, what about the community of linguists you work with? What is the word from those using Traduno? Steve: Traduno integrates a vendor portal, enabling linguists to apply and, upon approval, become part of the team. This portal streamlines cooperation between our operations and the linguists. Similar to the client portal, numerous freelancers have chosen to work exclusively with us, abandoning other LSC clients. The reason is simple: They receive a steady stream of jobs, and everything happens within a unified platform. They no longer need to monitor various channels for job opportunities. From jobs and notifications to invoices and payments – everything is handled on Traduno. They can now direct their focus to their work, free from administrative hassle. Question: Who are your clients, and how will they benefit from your solution? Steve: We target two segments: Fellow LSCs and end-buyers willing to take control of the translation processes. When it comes to LSCs, we've all been navigating the same waters, understanding the winds and currents. The difference is we had access to the resources that enabled us to build a faster boat. Now, we're ready to share this boat with anyone willing to come aboard. And it's going to be much more affordable than what we invested. Given our deep familiarity with LSC processes and bottlenecks, we've designed Traduno with cost and time optimisation as core principles. It's not some generic tool for the world; it's a tailored solution for LSCs made in close collaboration with its users. With Traduno, we hope to empower them, enabling growth and expansion within the industry. For end-buyers grappling with intricate translation workflows, Traduno emerges as a tool for process organisation and optimisation. By centralising vendors and steps onto a single platform, it offers a unified control centre for managing translations effectively. Question: We talked about remaining on top of the technology curve. In what is a very dynamic landscape, how do you ensure you keep pushing out a state-of-the-art technology product? Steve: Your question touches on AI. While AI is currently a buzzword for many, it's still a work in progress. Although it excels at generating content, it sometimes lacks accuracy and is prone to inventing things and inconsistencies. We don't want to merely use it for show or offer clients a tool that requires constant human verification. Our goal is to make your life easier, not give you a headache. However, we see enormous potential in further optimising workflows through AI. This represents our next major step in development, and we are currently working on it to keep ahead of the game. Business challenges and opportunities While business indicators point to two strong years of growth, there are clouds on the horizon, and savvy leaders will want to prepare their businesses for what lies ahead. Indeed, the economic downturn highlighted by rising inflation and cost of living, geopolitical uncertainty, and talent shortage in some pockets of the market present their own challenges. One thing is certain: the various shifts within the business landscape are met with diverse responses. While most are playing with the same deck of cards, the strategies and tactics will differ from one LSC to another. The business impact of global events Language services may be one of the shadow industries and more resilient than most in times of crisis, but global events still impact the LSC landscape. The survey revealed how these challenges have been influencing the reality of UK LSCs. How have the recent global challenges impacted your business over the past two years? A majority (73%) of the participants are feeling pricing pressures from their client base. In some of our follow-up interviews to the survey, LSC leaders highlighted that they essentially find themselves in the middle of a highway with two opposing fast-speed lanes: while clients try to negotiate prices downward, encouraged by the cost-efficiencies of AI-driven technology (and also having to compose with their own flat budgets), LSCs need to hike their prices up to offset rising inflation and cost of living. There’s more than just price pressure, however. Survey respondents have reported a reduction or loss of existing business for nearly half of the companies (47%), accompanied by an escalation in expenditure (43%). Additional research Nimdzi has been doing over the first six to eight months of 2023 shows that the industry – especially the clients who buy language services – is in wait-and-see mode. Decision-makers on the client side report that numerous projects have been put on hold if not downright cancelled. Naturally, the workforce remains the most vulnerable to external market forces, and some LSCs have indicated higher staff turnover compared to preceding years (20%) – although, as reported earlier, most surveyed LSCs have been hiring instead of losing talent in the last few months. An eventful 2022/2023 season 2022 was another busy year, and some of the challenges (and the initiatives and programs they resulted in) have continued into 2023. Dealing with economic challenges (e.g., growth rates, changes in profitability, etc.) and restructuring the business was the most notable change in 2022 for 27% of companies. Technology was mentioned as a point of focus by 23% of surveyed LSCs. The challenges here are varied, from embracing automation, further streamlining processes, or updating their tech stack. Expansion of the business, supported by judicious hiring, was a crucial change for 23% of respondents. What was the most important change in your company in 2022? Besides its centrality to modern-day localisation operations, technology and automation represent the biggest challenge for 33% of LSCs. The fierce competition in the market and pricing pressures remain a challenge for 27% of respondents. Alongside external forces at play, companies are also facing internal challenges: talent management and development (17%), the sales teams’ ability to create new business opportunities (17%) or the pursuit of operational efficiencies (13%) are some of the most often mentioned challenges companies are facing. What is the biggest challenge your company is facing in 2023 and beyond? AI is the big headline topic of the 2022/2023 season, concentrating a lot of debate and opinions. The survey results show positive sentiment on technology, and the impact of AI (63%) does edge the negative views (52%). Only time will tell how AI-powered tools will insert themselves into conventional localisation workflows. Still, in the fall of 2023, most of the industry has made their minds up about how impactful AI can be. The buyers of language services are busy testing and implementing LLM-powered tools in multilingual scenarios, the technology providers are busy adding it to their flagship tools and service providers are figuring out whether there is potential to monetize AI-enabled services. One of the potential outcomes of AI powering translation and localisation work is an increased demand for translation – all that content will at least require validation by experts – 19% of respondents seem to be leaning this way. On the other side of the spectrum, the anticipation of increased market competition and pricing pressures (19%), coupled with the challenge of talent scarcity (10%), continue to influence businesses negatively. Which language industry trends do you expect to have a positive and negative impact on your business in 2023? Have legislative developments affected your business? Among survey respondents, just over one-third reported being affected by changes in legislation in 2022. They mentioned possible changes in corporate taxation, national insurance payments, uncertainties over AI legislation, language access compliance, and persistent administrative costs stemming from Brexit as potential hurdles to work around. How do SMEs in the UK relate to global market trends? Despite the aforementioned positive sentiment expressed about the place of AI in the language services industry (in another question, 41.3% of respondents see AI continuing to impact the industry into the future), there is still a sizable portion of LSCs (37.9%) that lean towards a more reserved, wait-and-see approach when it comes to LLMs and generative AI technology. This is evidenced by the fact that most respondents (60.0%) have not yet seen an increased interest in AI-powered solutions from their clients, although most of the respondents here fall into the revenue group below GBP 1 million. This suggests that, for the time being, AI projects are still mainly pertinent for medium-sized and larger companies. What’s more, registering demand for AI and then being ready to absorb it are two different things, with most of the survey respondents (44.8% of responses) sharing they are not yet ready for the change brought about by LLMs. In parallel to the AI discussion, the reported uptake of MT is further evidenced by the fact that 48.4% of respondents share that the part of post-editing services in their portfolio is increasing. We’ve also been looking for a subtrend in the area of machine vs. human – that of LSCs pivoting to the role of a validator of the quality of content produced by automated solutions (i.e., MT or generative AI). While some LSCs have seen this develop into a parallel service, thus far, this hasn’t been something that can be generalised across the board. In the interpreting pocket of the market, the post-pandemic demand for remote interpreting services continues strongly, with upwards of 70% of respondents claiming they are seeing more demand for such solutions. As reported previously, LSCs have to contend with the reality of price pressures – this is the case for 54.8% of respondents. Nimdzi Insights has been reporting on the trend for LSCs to continue moving away from transactional work and towards a consultative, strategic partnership model, but that has not quite been manifesting in the UK market. 60% of surveyed companies still report that their work is mostly transactional. A sizable 40.6% of companies reported being tepid about the notion of acquiring that strategic partner dimension their clients are craving so this begs the question – with their work cut out for them and a multitude of challenges to try and solve daily, are LSCs spending nearly enough time on the “service” portion of their mission? While both the clients and the service providers seem to be facing the same adversity in the global markets, one has to wonder whether more can be done to strengthen communication and find common solutions to the same challenges. Interview: Stepping into the buyers’ shoes Question: Cristina, from Nimdzi’s research we observe that 61% of companies tend to work with an LSC only. For clients, working with a mix of freelancers and LSCs is less frequent (21.9%), but it does happen. Deliveroo is one such example. Can you walk us briefly how you got here and how you achieve symbiosis so all the parties are happy with the setup? Cristina: It is interesting to note the percentage of companies working with LSCs only as opposed to having a hybrid model - it’s a setup that works well. For us, it was an organic decision to go this route. As localisation sits in the Tech organisation at Deliveroo, during our startup days the freelancers were working mostly just on product content and on a few other priority areas. But over the past two years, our business has experienced massive growth - many teams were created, others were restructured, and more content is being created than ever before. So with the content now coming from all the different parts of the business, we knew the freelancer-only setup was not sufficient. Also because one of the legacy quirks of our system was having specialised linguists. For example, our in-house French localisation specialist specialises in product and marketing localisation, so we understood we needed to onboard the right people to work on different parts of the business. So that’s how we started to look at LSCs as a parallel option. We always had the option to expand the freelancer pool, but this would have likely been unsustainable to manage at the pace we are working. There was a bit of a transition when setting up this dual system, when freelancers noticed they suddenly weren’t doing everything. But even if the work has been reduced slightly, by focusing on their subject matter areas they’ve been able to transform into specialists, and true product experts. The two sides - the freelancers and LSCs - never compete with each other. For the freelance linguists, they actually started to receive more work, with a wider set of tasks for their specialist area, such as QA. Ensuring everyone is happy is a job unto itself, but so far it’s been going well. What we do as localisation managers, even though our stakeholders can technically go directly to the LSC, is that we are still the owners of the relationship with our partners - there is a constant sharing of resources and communication with all the groups. This has been a great way to ensure consistency as all sides are being proactive about asking questions and communicating. It’s not just me, but also the PMs on the LSC side who remain actively engaged. Having this level of dedication and trust is key. Question: What areas do you think LSCs should work on to set themselves apart? Cristina: A few things come to mind - having worked at an LSC before, I know it can sometimes get hard to devote attention to them. First off, specialisation. From my perspective as the client, I want to know that the team dedicated to my account knows the projects that they are working on, they know how to handle the different situations, and that they outsource it to the right linguists. For instance, this was a very important criterion for us when selecting a partner LSC, knowing that they have a dedicated team of linguists for the varied areas we needed. We wanted that level of consistency of working with the same people. Then there’s technology: having a good technical setup, with a solid TMS that centralises the work, that can be plugged into our systems and offers opportunities to automate the process is a godsend. Nowadays, I can see more and more LSCs investing into having more automated cooperation with clients. Lastly, it’s the comfort of a dedicated team, with both sides cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship. Engaging with the same people, who are there not only to answer questions, but also provide advice when needed is vital. Having the consultancy hat is something more LSCs should look at. Question: What keeps you awake at night? Cristina: There’s no shortage of things to occupy the mind. As Deliveroo continues to grow, this happens all the time - and likely happens in other companies, too. One such example is our stakeholders going and taking care of localisation themselves, not working through our formalised processes and us not knowing what was going on, or needing to drop our priorities and needing to accommodate. This continues to be one of the drivers of why we want to handle the relationships with our partners. It isn’t a question of not trusting the LSC or that whoever our colleagues go to wouldn’t provide good quality work, but it’s about centralising demand. This continues to be a worry, especially as we have over 3,000 employees with new units being created who may not know where to go for their localisation needs. So it’s very important for us to continue talking about localisation, and ensuring they know that our team exists. Sometimes it’s difficult to control, but we’re trying to make sure localisation has enough visibility internally, so different teams understand what it takes to get a product to market. Making sure that localisation is valued and considered as a proper discipline alongside, say, engineering, is vital. And this has a direct impact on the freelancers and LSCs too - the more we work on internal alignment initiatives, the better support/heads-up we can offer to our partners, so they have better visibility and can plan for what’s coming. At the end of the day, this impacts the quality for everyone. Question: While overall, the industry has been growing, interviews we conducted point towards 2023 being a slower year as clients and service providers are in wait-and-see mode due to the emergence of AI and external factors such as the economic downturn. Have you seen outside forces affect the work you’ve been doing at Deliveroo? Cristina: Unfortunately, yes. At the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 we’ve seen things slow down. There was still work, but budgets were reduced so we needed to prioritise what we sent to localisation. Speaking with peers, you have the feeling localisation is one of the first things which go in times of crisis. But we’re actually trying to make a case for the opposite - if things are not going well, then that is precisely the reason why you need to double down servicing on our global markets. Naturally, we felt bad for our partners - often they’re asking us questions about projects we simply don’t have answers to. But things have been picking up of late, with the company reinvesting in new features. The limitations we faced at the beginning of the year have been slowly lifting. Many businesses, not just Deliveroo, have probably used this time of uncertainty to reassess where to invest next and that brings more opportunities for localisation. Question: Where do you think the language services industry is headed? Cristina: The AI and MT trends are the headliners, naturally. I’ve seen many companies taking advantage of these new technologies to revamp their processes and create new services. 10 years ago not many were enthused about MT, but it has been proven to work. Now it’s also on the LSCs and the linguists to continue to evolve and become more proficient with these new technologies. We don’t really have a choice in this regard as AI is affecting the whole business world. As a counterpoint to the AI push - and for those who do not wish to go down that road - what I see continuing adding value is more specialisation in areas such as digital marketing, SEO, or social media. This is especially valid for the linguists who do this type of work - there is opportunity to reinvent oneself. The industry at the gates of the AI era A lot can happen in two years. In 2021, we reported how the UK LSC landscape, powered by scrappy small to mid-sized businesses, was able to weather the global pandemic and any negative effects of Brexit. Fast-forward to today, and one thing is certain: UK LSCs have many fundamentals right. Indeed, we observe strong growth rates in the UK market. The financial benchmarks are trending in the right direction, the rates are up, UK LSCs are bucking the worldwide trend of hiring less and expanding their activity and they have been adding more technology into the mix… And yet, this isn’t a time to relax and rest on our laurels because more change is afoot. The entire language services industry is in wait-and-see mode. 2023 half-year results of some of the largest companies in the industry indicate flat growth. LSCs of all sizes are reporting numerous projects being put on hold as localisation departments on the client side see their budgets stagnate or increase only modestly. What exactly is going on? As seen throughout the report, the outside world continues to influence proceedings in the language services industry. An economic recession has replaced the global pandemic. Coupled with geopolitical uncertainty and the rising cost of living, and the global workforce being in a state of flux, UK LSCs are certainly not unaffected. By now, all of this is mostly business as normal, however. Yet there is one big elephant that has made its entry into the room: generative AI. Let’s be clear: The ChatGPT buzz is over now. Based on our qualitative research, Nimdzi Insights doesn’t anticipate the promised explosion of content by LLMs and generative AI to occur until later, in 2024. This is because everyone is busy testing the varied solutions while figuring out latent questions of security, confidentiality and ethics. It’s still unclear how the AI revolution will shake out in the long term. The immediate consequence is clients pausing their big projects until the viability of AI in their operations is confirmed. On an industry level, we anticipate the polarisation between those who embrace the opportunity of AI and those who don’t will continue. While optimism is du jour, it is important to continue asking the right questions. The same ones the industry has asked – and found answers to – about MT not too long ago. Rendez-vous in two years to see how the UK’s language services industry has mastered AI.
前言 每隔一年,ATC的英国语言服务行业调查和报告描绘了第二大国家语言服务市场英国的趋势和驱动因素。 每隔一年,该报告为我们提供了关于英国语言服务市场发展的宝贵见解,使ATC成员公司能够根据更广泛的行业格局来衡量其业务和服务,并告知我们在英国、欧盟和世界各地的朋友、合作伙伴和利益相关者。 这份2023年的报告也不例外。我们今天知道的是:英国的语言服务业是多样化和有弹性的。在过去的两年里,它不仅经受住了几次危机,而且反弹得更加强劲。在英国,大多数语言服务公司(LSC)已经将过去几年的挑战转化为成功的增长战略,并拥有多元化的服务和技术组合。它们继续支持主要是国内市场,并促进国际商业和出口增长。 然而,我们也知道,这种情况对每个人来说都不一样,我们开始看到微型、小型和中型公司之间出现差距。微型公司——营业额高达200万英镑的公司——的增长速度不如中小型公司。 我们不知道接下来的旅程会带我们去哪里。这份报告标志着语言服务行业的一个关键时刻,围绕人工智能服务的最初嗡嗡声正在消退,弄清楚如何在语言服务流程中利用新技术的艰苦实践工作开始了。 作为英国领先的语言服务公司协会,ATC致力于支持各种形状、规模和运营模式的成员公司。未来几年,卓越的服务、以客户为中心的解决方案和可持续发展将成为我们所有会员业务的核心。 我们将为他们的旅程提供支持,为他们与商业组织和客户端贸易协会的商业合作打开大门和搭建桥梁,并指明将新技术解决方案整合到他们的服务产品中的切实、具体的方式。 我们很高兴向你提交这份报告。我们希望在这本书里,你能找到有价值的见解,激励你为即将到来的事情做好准备。 Raisa McNab,翻译公司协会首席执行官 本报告所载资料 方法论 2023年ATC语言行业调查收集了受访者关于其公司2022年业绩的信息。收入、增长数字、费率和员工人数是2022年的。分析了2023年的业务挑战和战略。在相关的情况下,参考了之前的2021年空管行业报告中的数据。除了通过调查获得数据,Nimdzi还在2023年7月和8月期间对LSC领导人进行了一系列后续采访,以超越数字,并寻求对其公司面临的日常挑战的定性见解。 2023年ATC调查和采访期间收集的数据是匿名的,整个报告中没有披露任何识别细节。唯一的例外是参考2023年初Nimdzi 100研究期间收集的收入数据,参与研究的语言服务公司明确同意公布其收入数据。这些出现在报告进一步的英国20家最大的语言服务公司部分。 除了2023年ATC调查中收集的数据、后续采访以及Nimdzi自己关于语言服务行业趋势的数据,ATC和Nimdzi Insights还与整个行业的专家合作,为您带来关于选定主题和相关趋势的专家见解。感谢以下人员: Cristina Mar í n Garc é s,户户送高级本地化经理 John Goldsbrough,英国国际贸易顾问 Steve Higgins,Mondia Technologies首席执行官 Adaptive Globalization全球语言服务总监Andrew Jones 执行摘要 1.英国在全球语言服务生态系统中占有重要地位。 英国已经巩固了其作为美国和中国以外最大语言服务市场的地位。预计2022年英国语言服务的市场规模在19.4亿至22.0亿英镑之间。 2.在过去两年中,英国企业的增长速度高于平均水平。 英国语言服务中心在过去两年中一直保持强劲增长(2021年增长15.5%,2022年增长12.5%),超过了全球语言服务行业的增长速度。二零二一年是语言服务行业整体丰收的一年,二零二二年则更为正常(但仍然良好)。然而,建议谨慎行事:2023年可能会出现经济放缓。 3.国内市场是最大的收入来源。 英国LSC在其国内市场看到了最大的需求和未开发的机会,近50%的收入来自英国客户。之后,欧洲大陆(23%)和北美(23%)是英国最强的两个贸易伙伴。 4.LSC的财务状况良好。 利润率方面有好消息:LSC能够在翻译(平均49.5%)和口译服务(35.6%)方面保持健康的利润率,与行业平均水平完全一致。此外,总的来说,公司采取了正确的反应来减轻经济和外部力量施加的限制。41.5%的LSC报告盈利能力增加,接近30%的公司盈利能力保持不变。 5.更多好消息:物价正在上涨。 每个人都在谈论它有一段时间了,在2022年,LSC领导人终于不再小心翼翼地回避它,并决定与他们的客户一起审查价格。这对于提供翻译服务的公司来说更为明显(40.6%的翻译公司提高了价格,而专注于口译的公司只有30%)。当然,收益会有所不同——25%的翻译企业降低了价格——但先例已经确立,现在是尝试重新谈判SLA的最佳时机。 6.大赦国际:积极情绪占上风。 炒作结束了。未来就是现在。客户是采用人工智能背后的驱动力,全球的LSC正在卷起袖子,测试人工智能技术可以用来开辟新的服务线,增强现有的服务线或提高成本效率。围绕人工智能的健康辩论需要继续,特别是在围绕人工智能解决方案的道德使用的问题持续存在的情况下,但总的来说,乐观情绪占了上风。 7.MT是2022年的大赢家。 在围绕ChatGPT等的炒作中,机器翻译(MT)一直在悄悄取得进展,2022年,70%的英国LSC积极提供MT相关服务(高于2020年的46%)。更引人注目的是,三分之一的LSC在超过50%的项目中使用了MT。关于MT可行性的问题需要一劳永逸地解决:MT是成长型公司的核心技术。 8.联合王国并非不受全球事件的影响。 小组委员会领导人同意:通货膨胀、生活费用上涨和其他因素等宏观经济趋势确实影响他们的业务,无论是影响基本成本结构还是给他们的人民带来负担。加上定价压力和客户因应对自身预算限制而搁置的很大一部分新业务,该行业在2023年上半年的大部分时间里一直处于观望状态。 答辩人公司简介 本报告旨在代表翻译公司协会的核心受众:活跃在英国的老牌中端市场提供商。2023年,ATC调查收到了活跃在英国市场的单个语言公司的64份有效回复,其中中端市场公司(年收入在250万至1000万英镑之间的公司)占所有调查参与者的三分之一。 按地理位置划分的参与者 今年所有参与公司中的绝大多数总部位于英国(87.5%)。只有6.3%的受访者来自欧洲其他地方,而北美、亚洲、大洋洲和非洲各有1.6%的受访者(尽管他们都表示部分收入来自英国客户)。 按规模类别划分的受访者 调查受访者从收入低于100万英镑的个体贸易商和小公司到年收入超过1亿英镑的业内一些最大的供应商。 三分之一的受访者是中型企业,2022年收入在250万至1000万英镑之间。几乎一半的参与公司报告收入在100万英镑至250万英镑(17.8%)或低于100万英镑(31.3%),而少数受访者报告收入超过1000万英镑(17.8%)。 妇女经营的语言服务公司 2021年,我们报告称,尽管女性拥有的公司比例高于行业平均水平(37.3%),但这些公司产生的总收入却低得不成比例,仅占报告总收入的12.6%。 今年,我们高兴地报告,这些数字有所平衡。更令人印象深刻的是,在接受调查的公司中,女性占41%,而现在女性创造了他们之间总收入的三分之一。 英国语言服务市场:关键数据 市场规模 我们估计目前英国语言服务市场的规模在19.4亿到22.0亿英镑之间。 这高于我们在2021年估计的17亿英镑,这一数字巩固了英国作为欧洲最大的单一国家语言服务市场的地位。总的来说,过去两年的全球疫情对全球语言服务公司来说非常好,特别是在英国,LSC(再次)证明了他们的弹性,尽管环境不利,但仍保持在增长的道路上。 看看英国前20大LSC,它们本身就代表了16亿英镑。 英国最大的20家语言服务公司 虽然本报告的大部分内容利用了通过2023年ATC行业调查收集的数据,但下表使用了2023年Nimdzi 100的数据。根据上一财年的收入,它对总部位于英国的20家最大的语言服务提供商进行了排名。以下名单上的20家公司中有13家是空管成员和伙伴公司。 2023年Nimdzi 100列出了11家总部位于英国的公司,使其成为仅次于美国(28家)的语言服务行业第二大代表性国家。 资料来源:Nimdzi Insights,根据2023年Nimdzi 100(换算为英镑)报告的数字,包括年报更新及最新市场研究 附注: 财政年度,最近财政年度的数字(经财务报告核实) (v)经核实的公司提供的数据 (e)根据广泛的行业研究估算的收入 由于货币舍入,一些公司的收入相同。但是,考虑到第二位小数,排名顺序是准确的。 英国是一个竞争激烈的市场 虽然英国语言服务领域的大部分由中小型LSC组成,但最大的参与者集中了大量注意力。当被问及他们认为谁是英国市场上最大的竞争对手时,受访者最常提到的是TransPerfect和Lionbridge,尽管这两家公司都是总部位于美国的LSC。这进一步强调了一个事实,即语言服务行业是一个全球性的、高度相互关联的行业。调查受访者提到总共61家不同的公司是最大的竞争对手。通常,LSC将相同规模(或更大)的公司视为其直接竞争对手,以及处于同一垂直行业和/或地理位置接近的公司。其他著名的竞争对手包括RWS,使命翻译,DA语言,THG流利,和全球行话。底线是,与其他国家不同,英国市场竞争非常激烈,并吸引了海外有限责任公司的注意。 二零二零年至二零二二年的收入及增长 回顾2020年对很多人来说都是超现实的。这是我们从未经历过的一年,生活陷入停顿,因为世界大部分地区实际上被全球疫情关闭了。许多公司面临新的业务挑战,在2021年版的ATC行业报告中,我们注意到只有56%的公司在2020年实现了净正增长。 虽然我们不希望2020年重演,但它确实为2021年的辉煌一年让路。随着行业全面恢复,许多公司报告了高于平均水平的增长,解释了下表中2021年令人印象深刻的增长率。随着行业的复苏和再平衡,增长率也在2022年稳定下来。 与2021年相比,2022年的增长数据可能相形见绌,但它们肯定不容置疑。所有参与公司12.5%的平均增长率仍然令人印象深刻,明显高于2023年Nimdzi 100报告的5.0%的行业增长率中值。 数据显示,在过去两年中,规模较小的公司受到不可预测的经济的打击最大。收入低于100万英镑的公司在2021年经历了最高的增长率(24.6%),在2022年经历了最低的增长率(事实上,这是唯一的负平均增长率,为-6.0%)。较大的公司似乎在2021年至2022年间表现最佳,过去一年的增长率降幅最小。 二零二一年与二零二二年按收入分部划分的增长 2022年净正增长公司百分比 虽然增长率是一个值得考虑的重要指标,但看看经历净正增长的公司份额也是值得的。从2021年到2022年,65.7%的公司经历了净正增长。 在这里,我们也可以看到在过去的一个财政年度,小公司比大公司受到的打击更大。收入超过100万英镑的公司中有80%在2022年实现了净正增长,而收入低于100万英镑的公司中只有30%拥有同样的财富。 生产力 一个公司的生产率可以通过计算每个员工产生的平均收入来衡量。2023年ATC调查报告的平均生产率为每位员工157,830英镑。每位员工产生的最高收入为773,372英镑,最低为10,220英镑。 这项调查的结果表明,较大的公司往往生产率更高——不仅每个收入等级越高,每个员工产生的平均收入就越高,而且生产率统计数据最高和最低的公司在总体上同样属于最大和最小的公司。 按业务划分的毛利率 笔译和口译的平均毛利润略有增加,每个服务项目的毛利润增加了2%多一点。这与全球平均水平一致(笔译为40-50%,口译为30-40%)。 翻译服务的利润率介乎26%至77%,平均利润率为49.5%。口译的利润率从10%到60%不等,平均利润率为35.6%。一个积极的迹象是,不同规模的公司都报告了笔译和口译服务的一致利润。 毛利率明细 利润线 根据他们衡量盈利能力的方式,几乎整整三分之一的受访者报告说,他们的盈利能力在2022年下降,另外三分之一的受访者报告说,他们的盈利能力与2021年持平。五分之二的受访者(41.5%)表示,去年他们的盈利能力有所提高。 盈利能力平均下降14.8%,盈利能力平均上升20.0%。 另一个衡量盈利能力的指标是公司的EBITDA(息税折旧摊销前收益)。今年,报告的最高EBITDA为55%,但平均水平更可预测为19.7%。 并购有起有落 过去两年,M&A领域的两大活动流——对出售或收购感兴趣的人和不感兴趣的人——发生了相当大的变化。2021年是整个行业并购活动创纪录的一年,全球完成了62笔交易。2022年,由于宏观经济因素和地缘政治挑战抑制了所有人的兴奋情绪,这一数字有所下降。 总体而言,仔细观察前一组,语言服务行业正见证着巨大的供需差距。虽然在2021年的ATC调查中,31.3%的受访者有兴趣接受报价,但在2023年,这一比例降至24.3%(全球为34.3%)。然而,在需求方面,我们看到增长超过10%(2022年英国公司的增长为35.1%,仍落后于寻求收购的全球公司的52.4%)。对LSC的需求与该行业目前提供的需求之间的差距不断扩大,这是卖方市场的特征,意味着卖方比买方占上风。 至于后一类人,英国有明显的企稳趋势。虽然在2021年,只有31.1%的参与者对M&A的活动不感兴趣,但这一数字在2023年飙升至54.1%。这表明,英国企业现在正把注意力转向能够刺激有机增长的机会。这一说法得到了其他回答的支持,这些回答显示,在2023年,只有21%的受访者收购了一家公司,而78.9%的绝大多数人没有进行任何此类收购。 英国语言服务市场的特点 英国市场的顶级服务 今年的调查结果与2021年空管行业报告不同。翻译和本地化仍然是全球LSC的主要服务。字幕仍然是英国LSC提供的第二大服务(73%)。然而,今年,我们看到机器翻译和后期编辑服务篡夺了第三名(70%),与2021年相比大幅增长了24%。 在分析哪些服务突出时,有几点需要注意: 2021年和2023年空管行业报告之间的受访者样本不同,因此结果的差异是可以预料的。 也就是说,可以肯定的是,到目前为止,LSC在2023年提供的大多数服务都经过了试验和测试——从表面上看,LSC似乎没有太多创新...只是还没有。 就这一点而言,MT的上涨是一个需要关注的趋势。2023年,开发MT相关服务已成为LSC考虑扩大运营规模的一个关键领域,英国的新数字接近2023年的全球基准(根据Nimdzi 100,为74%)。除了为大量可本地化内容寻找快速且经济高效的解决方案的客户推动机器翻译的采用之外,机器翻译领域还有一个子主题:各种规模的LSC利用机器翻译作为人工智能解决方案的可靠替代方案,人工智能解决方案在大多数翻译和本地化场景的适用性方面相对落后。 围绕开发、实施和利用生成式人工智能的服务(可以说是语言服务行业2023年上半年最大的故事情节)在这个列表中排名靠后(这里由“数据/人工智能服务”涵盖)。尽管围绕ChatGPT等有很多传言,但现实是,人工智能相关服务目前大多只有最大的LSC才能获得,这些LSC拥有大多数中小企业根本没有的规模、必要的支持和技术人才。也就是说,不怕跳出框框思考的各种规模的LSC已经开始为他们的客户提供人工智能解决方案,同时提供更经典的以人为中心的选项。在这里,LSC将讨论重新定义为人工智能输出的专家验证者。这样做的人的早期回报:它一直运行良好,是将他们的专业知识货币化的可行途径。 英国LSC提供的主要服务 英国LSC服务的顶级垂直市场 在需要语言服务的众多行业中,受监管行业在2022年夺回了ATC调查受访者提供服务最多的行业的桂冠:法律(72%)、生命科学(69%)和金融(49%)位列前三。毫不奇怪,高度监管的行业——提供语言服务是基础——为LSC提供了稳定的工作来源,如果不是最接近保证的话。创意产业(49%)和技术、IT及软件行业(49%)位列前五,反映出它们的全球影响力和公司迎合全球每个角落受众的需求。有趣的是,在回答他们服务于哪些行业的问题时,40家公司中只有6家表示他们只在一个行业工作:英国的LSC活跃在许多行业,努力使他们的客户组合多样化。 工业公司服务 在今年的调查中,我们还询问了受访者在某些垂直行业扩大业务的计划。证据就在布丁里:LSC的决策者选择了受监管行业所代表的安全赌注(或最接近的赌注)。引领这一趋势的是生命科学(48%),紧随其后的是法律(41%)、医疗保健(37%)和制造业(37%)。然而,值得注意的是,这包括已经在这些领域存在并希望扩大其影响范围的公司,以及希望继续进一步使其活动多样化的公司。 工业公司战略性地计划在未来一段时间内扩大其存在 客户在哪里 作为一项专注于英国市场的行业研究,几乎所有接受调查的公司都活跃在英国和其他欧洲市场(96.6%),这并不奇怪。大多数调查受访者也在北美创造了一些收入(86.2%)。不到四分之一的公司在亚洲运营,活跃在南美和大洋洲(各占13.8%)或非洲(6.9%)的公司就更少了。 当谈到每个地区产生的收入份额时,情况略有不同。 调查受访者创造的所有收入中,几乎有一半来自国内客户(49.5%)。另外45%来自欧洲和北美的其他地方。其余5.3%来自亚洲(2.2%)、非洲(1.2%)、南美(1%)和大洋洲(0.9%)。 这些数字在过去两年中几乎没有变化,特别是在收入份额已经很低的地区。亚洲的收入份额下降了4%,但部分被非洲(0.9%)、南美(0.7%)和北美(0.5%)的收入份额小幅增长所抵消。 离家更近,可以观察到更有趣的变化。国内收入份额比2020年增加了5.2%,与此同时,欧洲其他地区产生的收入下降了3.6%。此前,2018年至2020年间,欧洲其他地区的收入份额下降(-4.4%)。虽然这些变化目前只是轻微的,但随着英国退出欧盟的后遗症占据主导地位,以及与其他欧洲国家的贸易减少,它们很可能预示着一种长期趋势。 采访:英国公司在充满挑战的环境下对国际贸易的展望 在英国有限责任公司连续两年表现强劲的背景下,现在是将它们的命运置于英国出口行业更广泛表现的背景下的时候了。为此,Nimdzi Insights与英国国际贸易顾问John Goldsbrough合作,讨论了他对英国出口表现的看法,英国公司可以从政府共享的资源中受益的各种方式,以帮助他们走向国际成功,以及英国LSC在支持客户行业时可以发挥的作用和机会。 问:在过去的两年里,英国的国际贸易发生了怎样的变化?哪些全球性事件影响最大? 约翰:疫情之后,出口强劲反弹。2021-2022年是每个人的成长年。英国的出口总值增长了24%,其中商品增长了28%,服务增长了21%。这一增长一直持续到2023年上半年。这种价值增长的很大一部分来自通货膨胀和英国以国际价格出口石油和天然气。80%的出口是远程完成的——通过数字传输进行的交换是出口服务的关键部分。 出于显而易见的原因,非欧盟出口的增长超过了欧盟出口。为了弥补欧盟市场的低迷,英国公司的重点转向了美国和加拿大,这两个市场都有明显的机会。现阶段不太明显的是对亚洲高增长市场的出口:以前是中国,现在是印度尼西亚、马来西亚和澳大利亚,仅举几例。从长远来看,在退出欧盟之后,政府将快速增长的亚洲市场视为增长的战略驱动力。在这方面,对南美的出口远远落后,尽管该地区提供了有趣的人口动态。 问:英国LSC在面对逆境时表现出了韧性,并在2021年和2022年表现出强劲增长。这让你惊讶吗?在这方面,英国语言服务公司与英国其他行业相比如何? 约翰:持续的增长水平令人惊讶,但这是一件非常积极的事情。它确实符合出口商品和服务的模式。现在,当观察不同规模的公司时,我们看到最大的公司最成功,英国中小企业远远落后。后疫情时代,最大的公司能够比小公司更容易地转向、开发新产品和扩展到新的垂直领域。这些战略决策需要资金和努力,中小企业不一定有能力像大公司那样投入大量资金。对他们来说,现金流的考虑,或者雇佣和留住合适的员工是更紧迫的事情。对于这种类型的公司来说,重点往往是在现有客户扩大野心之前留住他们。 问:正在采取什么措施来提高英国出口产品在全球舞台上的竞争力? 约翰:有相当多的资源可供英国公司发展出口。 问:有了这些信息,公司在发展出口活动时可能会遇到哪些挑战? 约翰:有两种类型的挑战。 首先,知道什么是可用的,什么是公司在特定阶段最相关的,是最大的挑战。对于处于出口之旅早期阶段的公司来说,许多出口活动开始时都是被动的:他们不是从一开始就制定出口计划,而是对商业机会做出反应,不久之后,他们就走上了这条道路,而不了解与出口相关的风险。 另一方面,对于规模较大、历史悠久的公司来说,情况可能会有所不同。他们可能不一定需要这些建议,因为他们已经掌握了内部知识,或者已经在海外做生意有一段时间了。因此,他们通常会面临更具体的挑战——他们知道规章制度是什么,但他们希望让政府注意到他们的问题,因此这成为政府之间的讨论点。他们可能会期待政府在经济外交中就他们的话题发挥更积极的作用。 问题:面对地缘政治的不确定性和混乱,英国哪些关键部门或行业最适合国际增长,并将从英国语言服务公司的全球悟性中受益最大? 约翰:一般来说,拥有增值产品或服务的知识和技术公司更有可能保持增长。有许多行业表现良好的例子:创意产业,但也包括商业咨询、培训和招聘、旅游和通信等行业。在科技方面,任何与金融科技、教育科技、医疗科技、网络安全和所有软件领域有关的东西。然后,在制造业领域,是医疗设备和生物技术。然后是食品和饮料行业,多年来其命运时好时坏,但仍是一个不断增长的行业,尤其是许多中小企业在这一领域取得了成功。事实仍然是,有许多部门是出口驱动的。 当谈到LSC的作用时,他们在这个过程中有一席之地。继续教育的元素尤其不能被夸大:向客户解释本地化的重要性,特别是从最终消费者获得本地化产品和服务的角度强调好处是至关重要的。LSC应该利用的另一个角度是,它们提供了对目标市场文化特性的深入了解。通常,出口经理面临着如何沟通以及如何在特定市场开展业务的障碍。以前在讨论中有积极势头的地方,机会突然停止了。这需要出口经理做好准备,LSC当然可以在这方面提供帮助。英国出口企业的大多数竞争对手——比如法国人、德国人或意大利人——很可能更习惯于这样一个事实,即他们需要根据自己活跃的不同市场的具体情况定制自己的方法。 问:鉴于全球范围内不断发展的监管框架和贸易政策,英国国际贸易部如何在确保国家经济利益和维护高标准的环境保护、劳工权利以及贸易协定中的其他社会经济因素之间取得平衡? 约翰:这总是一个微妙的平衡。在双边谈判中实现这一目标的一个方法是,英国树立榜样,将讨论范围扩大到这些问题。更具体地说,我们在贸易谈判中看到的,无论是新的还是正在重新谈判的,都是政府专注于现代化和更新它们,以反映当今市场的新现实。例如,与新加坡的协议只是关于数字贸易。政府总是试图将承认资格、妇女平等或人权等问题作为谈判的一部分。然而,当贸易协定的现代化本身是首要目标时,这些考虑往往是次要的,或者是很好的。 问:鉴于人工智能作为一个关键变量的出现,你认为它将如何影响寻求出口的英国企业的前景和能力? 约翰:政府之间需要领导力和主动性来开发一个结构,不仅反映人工智能的使用,还反映人工智能对未来社会的影响。我们看到了互联网出现时商业是如何转变的,然后随着社交媒体的出现发生了什么——到目前为止,我们已经看到了足够多的东西,知道人工智能需要积极主动的行动,而不是行业只是反动的。它还没有表现出来,但在政府层面和部门层面,LSC都有很好的机会走到一起,讨论如何构建和组织人工智能的使用。如果我们使用人工智能,公司需要向使用人工智能材料的人清楚透明地表明这是来自人工智能的材料。 英国的价格趋势 自2023年初以来——可以说甚至更早——每当话题转向定价趋势时,就有风向改变的传言。“逐底竞赛”可能还没有结束,但至少公司的领导人似乎已经下定决心要利用这一杠杆来影响他们的命运。 总的来说,英国的物价正在上涨。翻译服务尤其如此,40.6%的公司报告在2022年提高了价格(相比之下,2020年只有14.3%)。口译价格目前更加稳定,但这个行业也明显倾向于提高价格而不是降低价格(30%的公司提高了口译价格,而2020年为20.7%)。 不幸的是,在当前的经济环境下,这些回应本身可能会产生误导。虽然数据显示,公司倾向于提高价格,但许多公司报告称,这些涨幅勉强跟上英国最近的通胀率。这就提出了一个问题,如果从经济角度来看,价格上涨不是真正的上涨,那么价格上涨是否可以被称为价格上涨? 英国口译:介于增长和价格压力之间 对于全球口译市场,许多相同的观察结果适用于更大的翻译和本地化市场:后疫情时代,提供口译服务的公司一直保持着惊人的增长率(在2023年Nimdzi口译指数中,我们报告全球口译服务市场前34家公司在2020年至2022年间增长了+52.6%)。 总的来说,这是由于疫情期间积累的积压工作被重新投放市场,以及远程口译服务作为现场口译工作的可行替代方案的出现。2023年,LSC报告了一定程度的正常化,随着现场任务的回归,远程任务的数量将会减少。也就是说,随着客户和服务公司经历了“新常态”,预计远程口译的需求将继续增长(尽管比疫情高峰期更为温和)。 那么英国在全球口译市场的地位如何呢? 英国口译市场特征 Nimdzi估计,英国将成为仅次于美国的世界第二大口译市场,2022年将接近7亿英镑。 英国对口译服务的需求仍然主要由公共部门推动(估计80%的工作来自公共部门买家)。与世界上其他口译市场相比,英国有一个成熟的市场。 让我们来谈谈公共部门购买机制的一些特点。 我们估计,目前,大约80%的英国公共部门口译支出是通过框架合同进行的。框架协议作为一个服务目录,使公共部门实体内的采购组织更容易选择满足其语言服务需求的供应商。为此,框架规定了潜在供应商需要满足的若干条件,才有资格成为框架的一部分。一旦被接受,LSC就可以对框架内投标的合同进行投标。 无论是在公共部门客户方面,还是在小组委员会方面,使用这些框架并不总是可取的。要成为框架的一部分,LSC必须满足许多特定的标准,还需要提供一整套服务和语言(否则将面临高额罚款)。这并不适合所有人。一些LSC可能只擅长一定数量的语言或特定的口译模式。其他人希望避免因无法完成任务而面临高额罚款的风险。同样,其他人希望能够与他们的直接客户谈判更高的利润,并面临比在框架中更少的竞争。从客户的角度来看,只有一个值得信赖的小组委员会,他们可以与之谈判自己的条件,而不是通过一个正式的大型招标过程,这似乎也更容易。 公共部门面临的挑战 由于全球化、移民、持续的难民危机以及人口老龄化,对口译服务的需求不断增加——总体而言,人口老龄化影响了医疗服务,因此也影响了医疗口译——但政府预算却在不断削减。 这意味着公共部门的价格压力特别大。与大多数国家一样,英国的LSC正在用价格战来应对这种压力——因为通常情况下,最便宜的会胜出。这正在缓慢但肯定地成为一场逐底竞赛,尽管如上所述,口译费率在过去两年中基本保持稳定。 虽然现状可能在一段时间内仍然有效,但这不是一种可持续的情况,在一些国家已经可以感受到连锁效应。例如,在美国和英国,由于低费率和具有挑战性的工作条件,LSC都在努力寻找口译员并留住人才。人们一致认为,口译员需要有留在这个行业的动力。瑞典的情况类似,许多口译员白天或晚上都有其他工作来维持生计。 如何在英国公共部门赢得合同 取决于你问的是谁,答案会在天平的两边。Nimdzi Insights采访的英国市场上的大多数LSC报告说,如果他们想有机会赢得公共部门合同,他们会感到降低服务费率的压力。话虽如此,这些公司还表示,这种价格压力在过去几年中一直相对稳定。 另一方面,发布框架协议的组织认为,虽然价格肯定是一个因素,但质量更重要。例如,欧洲健康信托(HTE)框架协议的授予标准给出了65%质量和35%价格的权重。在与另一个框架组织的采访中,有人强调,市场上有一种看法,认为最低价格获胜,价格战是由LSC自己推动的,他们无意中将市场价格定得越来越低。 在Nimdzi的评估中,这两种看法很可能相互影响,共同导致价格下跌。话虽如此,英国有一个成熟的口译市场,公共部门的买家受过足够的教育,能够意识到将大合同授予最便宜的投标人不会产生预期的结果。 Nimdzi的分析表明,比质量和价格更重要的是,可扩展性是赢得公共部门合同的最重要因素。公共部门的合同很大,需要口译供应商每年完成数千项任务。通常情况下,是在特定的基础上,针对各种语言和专业。特别是当合同只授予一个供应商时,买方的风险很高,供应商的压力也很大,因为如果任务无法完成,就没有后备。在公共部门,这可能意味着法庭案件、医疗预约或警方面谈空缺。 英国的人员配备和招聘趋势 下图显示了全职内部员工在英国不同规模的公司中所扮演角色的分布情况。 项目经理仍然是各种规模的LSC招聘名单上的首选。所有接受调查的公司中,100%的公司都报告说员工中有内部项目经理。与2021年的报告相比,这一比例有所上升(2021年平均为88%)。他们重申了我们已经知道的事情:项目经理是小组委员会组织及其履行客户承诺能力的关键一环。 内部销售人员是LSC希望保护其发展的另一个重要组成部分。Nimdzi Insights的大量研究表明,雇佣销售人员可以为公司带来更高的增长。然而,有趣的是,与2021年相比,不同公司规模的平均值有所下降(从78%)。虽然调查没有直接证实这一点,但很容易推测,在经济低迷时期,表现不佳的工作人员可能已经减少。总体而言,三分之二接受调查的LSC都有销售人员。 当谈到拥有内部语言学家和审稿人时,与2021年相比,这一数字有所上升(62%的受访公司雇用语言学家,而2021年为50%)。与行业平均水平相比,这些数字仍然相对较高。 最后一类工作,技术专家、软件工程师和解决方案架构师(在“技术人员”下),是2023年调查中的一个新条目,基本数据不会令人惊讶。大公司往往比小公司更频繁地雇佣技术专家。随着技术在本地化过程中的重要性日益增加,LSC领导人面临着一个关键的决定——原地踏步还是投资于精通技术的人才,这些人才可以帮助拓宽公司的视野,并进一步吸引新的客户。 将今年的趋势与上一次调查的结果进行比较,在过去两年中,LSC的招聘和人员配备策略发生了微妙的变化。收入门槛继续影响着诉讼程序——有时LSC可以用更多的预算做更多的事情。与此同时,英国退出欧盟的后遗症和围绕经济环境的不确定性无疑导致了相当保守的招聘环境——尽管,正如我们将看到的,英国LSC似乎正在逆这一趋势而动。 招聘链的顶端和底端 近三分之二的受访者(63%)表示愿意招聘新职位。总体而言,这是一个非常积极的发展(尽管未来几个月需要密切关注),特别是对英国就业市场而言,因为Nimdzi Insights正在进行的商业信心研究(包括一个全球受访者小组)显示,只有23%的公司计划招聘,66%的公司预计员工水平在2023年剩余时间内保持不变。英国公司表示,项目经理(75%)、销售人员(60%)、语言学家(30%)和营销专家(25%)是他们在未来一年寻求填补的首要职位。 当比较最近几个月数量增加和减少的职位时,调查受访者强调项目经理(50%)、销售职位(38.5%)和语言学家(30.8%)是他们招聘的前三个职位。另一方面,当被问及去年数量和/或重要性下降的前三个角色时,客户经理(35.7%)、实习生/学生(28.6%)和项目经理(28.6%)在幻灯片上。有趣的是,项目经理是最受欢迎的职位之一,但也是下滑的职位。这表明了被调查的LSC的不同命运:随着业务的波动和LSC需要继续优化成本结构和/或在流程中加入更多自动化,一些LSC可能会像以前一样减少项目经理。 采访:英国薪资相关趋势概述 问:在过去的两年里,语言服务领域的工资是如何变化的? 安德鲁:过去两年的工资有点像过山车。特别是在2021年,我们看到所有地点的工资都大幅增长。这种情况在2022年上半年继续存在。然而,自2022年下半年以来,我们开始看到一个平台期,甚至提供的工资略有下降。虽然我们的跟踪仍然有工资同比略有上升,但SaaS市场的需求和高工资不再拖累我们行业的工资。我们目前看到,自2022年以来,工资上涨了1-5%,但业务发展总监或客户经理等一些职位的工资实际上停滞不前。 问题:与其他国家相比,英国的工资如何? 安德鲁:英国的工资总体上和其他国家一样稳定。我们在英国看到的是,我们继续看到一个巨大的地区差异,这在其他地方并不明显。例如,项目经理,尤其是伦敦的项目经理,或者那些为最大的LSC或语言技术企业工作的项目经理,仍然比那些在伦敦以外的LSC工作的项目经理多挣20-25%左右。 问题:当英国的公司想要吸引人才担任销售或生产中的关键角色时,它们是否有足够的竞争力? 安德鲁:就薪水而言,英国公司通常与欧洲的竞争对手一致。然而,他们的人才(销售和生产)正在流失到数字和SaaS行业。尤其是2021-2022年,大量有才华的销售专业人士转向薪酬更高的科技公司,尽管过去六个月科技行业的强劲低迷阻止了这一举动。就运营人员而言,主要的“人才外流”来自数字市场,在这个市场上,有才华的多语种项目经理正被更高的工资和更好的发展机会所吸引。 问:在2021年秋天,你没有看到英国退出欧盟对工资有太大影响。这种情况有实质性的改变吗?工资最终满足需求了吗? 安德鲁:没有迹象表明英国退出欧盟正在影响工资,因为整个欧洲的工资似乎都处于稳定状态。总的来说,我们认为现在供求之间有了更大的平衡。 问:经济压力正在影响全球的生活成本,尤其是在英国。从你的角度来看,这对薪水有什么影响吗?你预计它会如何影响未来几个月/几年的薪水? 安德鲁:一个很难回答的问题。虽然不可否认的是,自2021年1月以来,工资大幅上涨,但这种上涨大多发生在生活成本危机之前,因此对工资的影响并不是很大,因为工资已经在上涨。我们可以说,有一个领域受到了很大的影响,那就是入门级的职位——总的来说,由于生活成本的增加,初级候选人的期望增加了。 问:我们之前观察到英国不同地区的工资会有所不同。随着行业接受远程工作,这种趋势发生了变化吗?如果发生了变化,是如何变化的? 安德鲁:简而言之,没有。尽管远程工作有所增加,但我们仍然看到伦敦周围的英国存在巨大差异。虽然这部分可能是由于期望——以前在伦敦工作的人不愿意接受减薪——但也可能是因为越来越多的LSC考虑混合工作,所以即使你不必一周五天都在办公室,你仍然必须住得足够近,以便通勤一两天。 技术 2023年,技术是提供语言服务的基础部分。LSC对发展他们的技术技能和服务并不陌生。事实上,如果公司怀有扩大运营规模的雄心,他们需要继续开发有针对性的语言技术专业知识。 LSC使用的技术 大多数受访者(82.1%)已经将翻译管理系统(TMS)整合到他们的工作流程中。与2021年相比,今年调查的一个关键发现是机器翻译(MT)在英国LSC中的受欢迎程度激增(71.4%的公司使用它,而2020年为58.0%)。今天,机器翻译是语言服务行业中第二常用的语言技术(你可以证明它在工业界之外的受欢迎程度超过了传统的TMS解决方案)。 一个全球疫情之后,在口译领域也可以观察到一个显著的转变。视频远程口译平台从2021年的9%跃升至2023年的28.6%,而电话口译技术在过去两年中也从12%增长至17.9%。 这份报告的调查是在2023年夏天进行的,此时围绕大型语言模型(LLMs)和生成式人工智能工具的大多数早期讨论已经消退。从炒作转向实践,25%的受访公司表示,他们已经在测试或使用基于LLM的工具作为其工作流程的一部分。也就是说,大多数语言服务行业仍在研究人工智能解决方案如何惠及传统的翻译和本地化场景。然而,在这场辩论中似乎没有中间立场:在客户端持续需求的刺激下,LSC将被要求在追求这项技术或放弃它之间做出选择。在不太遥远的过去,MT/NMT爱恨再收养循环的集体经历正在重演。 2023年,发展技术专长不再是可有可无的。如果LSC不能保持在技术曲线的顶端,他们将会让位于他们的竞争对手。 翻译管理系统中的首选项 三个领先的翻译管理系统(TMS)都是久负盛名的市场参与者。Trados是一半受访者(50.0%)的首选,其次是memoQ(36.4%)和Phrase TMS(原Memsource)(27.3%)等云平台。尽管LSC有丰富的TMS选项,但近四分之一的受访者青睐定制TMS。定制TMS和XTM并列第四,有22.7%的公司使用它们。 机器翻译解决方案中的首选项 我们已经谈到了MT在本地化场景中日益增长的重要性。根据调查反馈,LSC倾向于被DeepL、Google、Microsoft和Amazon等成熟的MT提供商所吸引。然而,偏好绝不是静态的——这证明了语言技术市场的这一部分是非常动态的,并且仍然在快速发展。例如,在2021年的ATC行业报告中,DeepL以21%的比例与AWS并列第三,但在2023年,它在竞争中遥遥领先,现在以65%的受访者使用它而领先。 尽管基于每个解决方案的数字可能看起来并不显著,但很明显LSC正越来越多地转向MT。与前几年相比,更大的市场份额自然会转化为技术解决方案提供商更大的收入。事实上,Phrase的市场份额增长了12%,这是非常了不起的,尤其是对于一家起源于语言服务行业并与大型科技公司竞争的公司来说。 利用机器翻译的项目百分比 调查结果表明,近30%的受访者在超过50%的项目中采用了MT,而63%的受访者在不到四分之一的项目中利用了MT。25%到50%的项目使用MT的中端市场仅占受访者的7%。对于三分之一的受访者来说,MT已经成为他们向客户提供的服务中不可或缺的一部分。 对不同收入等级的公司使用MT的分析显示,收入超过500万英镑的公司中,超过一半的受访者在25%的项目中利用MT。相比之下,该群体中其余41.7%的受访者在超过50%的项目中使用MT,同时代表了在大多数项目中使用MT的最大群体。数据指向证据:随着公司收入的增长,MT成为业务增长的核心杠杆。来自中小型小组委员会集团的数据进一步支持了这一点——最小的公司可以说仍然足够灵活地采用机器翻译,而对于100万至500万英镑的公司来说,机器翻译只是他们旨在解决的一系列业务挑战之一。 专有技术 一些LSC更喜欢构建自己的软件,而不是从现成的软件中进行选择或定制现有的解决方案。总体而言,64.1%的受访者不开发专有解决方案。在35.9%的人中,大多数(87.5%)属于收入超过1000万英镑的阶层。另一个极端是利用现成解决方案的公司,不出所料,收入在100万英镑以下。然而,这里没有对错之分——建造还是购买的争论已经持续了多年,阵营的双方都看到了大量的LSC(及其客户)从他们的决策中获益。 内部软件开发的偏好 尽管TMS市场蓬勃发展,但最常见的内部语言技术是翻译管理系统(69.2%),其次是业务管理系统(61.5%)。 关于Traduno 问:多年来,大量已发表的报告显示,LSC特别擅长开发自己的专有技术。为什么你认为公司应该认真考虑开发自己的技术? 史蒂夫:我认为简单的答案是,他们不应该这样做,除非他们能够获得合适的、负担得起的资源。否则,这是一个相当昂贵的挑战。我们追求它有两个主要原因。首先,我们有一个超级有才华和成本效益的开发团队。尽管如此,这是一个漫长的旅程,我们投入了大量资金。其次,当时我们的选择有限——可用的解决方案要么昂贵、过于复杂,要么不适合我们(有时,三者兼而有之)。 我们的努力是对蒙迪亚技术集团的LSC多年来所面临的挑战的回应。作为LSC,我们了解各个层面的业务、生产和运营。这种无缝协作导致了团队之间对双方如何运作的相互理解。因此,我们现在有了一个成熟的解决方案,为管理翻译流程而定制,几乎涵盖了业务的各个方面。虽然一切都是从内部开发项目开始的,但它演变成了一个独立的实体,确保所有客户享有平等的条件和待遇。 在开发资源成本很高的情况下,我们建议探索第三方应用程序。这些解决方案的投资要低得多,并且经过成千上万用户的洞察而得到完善。如果它来自LSC,请放心——他们很可能已经面对并解决了你想要解决的挑战。 问:在开发Traduno并将其作为独立的商业化产品推出的过程中,你学到了什么? 史蒂夫:这是一次穿越各种地形的旅行。一开始,这对我们所有的团队来说都是一个挑战(我并不想打击任何人,但对于那些走上这条道路的人来说,应该有一剂健康的现实主义)。每个团队都有自己独特而正确的发展愿景。功能是以一种有点混乱的方式添加的,有时甚至会回滚和重新想象。我们有我们的错误和成功,但最终,这一切都是值得的。 在某一点上,一些事情发生了,我们达成了和谐的合作。所有相关部门都理解并接受了敏捷模型,而开发人员对我们公司的流程有了深刻的理解。这种相互理解使开发人员不仅掌握了需求,而且还修正了过程,考虑到对过程的其他部门或阶段的影响,同时使其可伸缩且易于使用。 问题:一切都与买家有关——客户通过利用合作伙伴开发的技术能获得什么? 史蒂夫:我们的解决方案旨在优化我们的时间和成本。这些好处延伸到我们的最终客户——他们享受更高的价格和更快的周转时间。不仅如此:我们的客户欣赏Traduno的一个关键方面是客户门户。认识到复杂解决方案的缺点——陡峭的学习曲线和复杂的工作流程——我们将该工具设计得圆滑,并专注于其预期目的。门户网站的简单性引起了我们客户的共鸣,反馈证实了我们的方向是正确的。事实上,一些采用多供应商方法的客户已经将他们所有的翻译工作转移给了我们,因为他们通过门户网站体验到了集中的简单性。这一举措简化了他们的运营,并提高了他们的内部KPI。他们只是喜欢它。 问:进一步推进这一思路,和你一起工作的语言学家群体呢?使用Traduno的人用了什么词? Steve:Traduno集成了一个供应商门户,使语言学家能够申请并在获得批准后成为团队的一部分。这个门户网站简化了我们的业务和语言学家之间的合作。与客户门户类似,许多自由职业者选择专门与我们合作,放弃了其他LSC客户。原因很简单:他们获得稳定的工作流,一切都发生在一个统一的平台内。他们不再需要监控各种渠道寻找工作机会。从工作和通知到发票和付款,一切都在Traduno上处理。他们现在可以将注意力集中在工作上,摆脱了管理上的麻烦。 问:谁是你的客户,他们将如何从你的解决方案中受益? Steve:我们的目标是两个细分市场:LSC伙伴和愿意控制翻译过程的最终买家。 说到LSC,我们都在同一水域航行,了解风和水流。不同的是,我们可以获得资源,使我们能够建造一艘更快的船。现在,我们准备和任何愿意上船的人分享这艘船。这将比我们投资的要便宜得多。鉴于我们对LSC流程和瓶颈的深入了解,我们以成本和时间优化为核心原则设计了Traduno。它不是世界上的通用工具;这是与用户密切合作为LSC量身定制的解决方案。通过Traduno,我们希望增强他们的能力,实现行业内的增长和扩张。 对于努力应对复杂翻译工作流程的最终买家来说,Traduno是流程组织和优化的工具。通过将供应商和步骤集中到一个平台上,它为有效管理翻译提供了一个统一的控制中心。 问:我们谈到了保持在技术曲线的顶端。在一个非常动态的环境中,你如何确保不断推出最先进的技术产品? 史蒂夫:你的问题涉及到人工智能。虽然人工智能目前对许多人来说是一个时髦词,但它仍然是一项正在进行的工作。虽然它擅长生成内容,但有时缺乏准确性,容易发明东西和不一致。我们不想仅仅用它来展示或向客户提供一个需要不断人工验证的工具。我们的目标是让您的生活更轻松,而不是让您头疼。然而,我们看到了通过人工智能进一步优化工作流程的巨大潜力。这代表了我们在开发中的下一个重要步骤,我们目前正在努力保持领先地位。 业务挑战及机遇 虽然商业指标显示了两年的强劲增长,但地平线上仍有乌云,精明的领导人会希望让他们的企业为未来做好准备。事实上,以通胀和生活成本上升、地缘政治不确定性和部分市场人才短缺为特征的经济衰退带来了自身的挑战。有一点是肯定的:商业格局中的各种变化会遇到不同的反应。虽然大多数小组委员会都在玩同一副牌,但每个小组委员会的战略和战术会有所不同。 全球活动对商业的影响 语言服务可能是影子行业之一,在危机时期比大多数行业更有弹性,但全球事件仍然影响着LSC的面貌。调查揭示了这些挑战如何影响英国LSC的现实。 在过去两年中,最近的全球挑战对您的业务产生了怎样的影响? 大多数(73%)参与者感受到了来自客户群的定价压力。在我们对调查的一些后续采访中,LSC领导人强调,他们基本上发现自己处于一条高速公路的中间,有两条相反的快车道:当客户在人工智能驱动技术的成本效益的鼓励下试图谈判压低价格时(也不得不用自己的固定预算组成),LSC需要提高价格,以抵消不断上升的通货膨胀和生活成本。 然而,不仅仅是价格压力。调查受访者报告称,近一半的公司(47%)现有业务减少或损失,同时支出增加(43%)。Nimdzi在2023年前六到八个月所做的额外研究显示,该行业——特别是购买语言服务的客户——处于观望状态。客户端的决策者报告说,许多项目已经被搁置,如果不是完全取消的话。 自然,劳动力仍然最容易受到外部市场力量的影响,一些有限责任公司表示,与前几年相比,员工流动率有所提高(20%)——尽管如前所述,大多数接受调查的有限责任公司在过去几个月中一直在招聘人才,而不是流失人才。 多事之秋2022/2023赛季 2022年又是忙碌的一年,一些挑战(以及由此产生的倡议和计划)一直持续到2023年。应对经济挑战(如增长率、盈利能力变化等。)对于27%的公司来说,重组业务是2022年最显著的变化。23%接受调查的LSC将技术作为关注的焦点。这里的挑战是多种多样的,从拥抱自动化,进一步简化流程,或更新他们的技术堆栈。23%的受访者认为,在明智招聘的支持下,业务扩张是一个至关重要的变化。 2022年贵公司最重要的变化是什么? 除了在现代本地化运营中的核心地位,技术和自动化也是33%的LSC面临的最大挑战。对于27%的受访者来说,激烈的市场竞争和定价压力仍然是一个挑战。除了外部因素,公司还面临着内部挑战:人才管理和发展(17%)、销售团队创造新业务机会的能力(17%)或追求运营效率(13%)是公司面临的一些最常被提及的挑战。 2023年及以后,贵公司面临的最大挑战是什么? AI是2022/2023赛季的大头条话题,集中了很多辩论和观点。调查结果显示了对技术的积极看法,人工智能的影响(63%)确实超过了负面看法(52%)。只有时间才能告诉我们人工智能工具将如何插入传统的本地化工作流程。尽管如此,在2023年秋天,大多数行业已经对人工智能的影响力做出了决定。语言服务的购买者正忙于在多语言场景中测试和实施LLM驱动的工具,技术提供商正忙于将其添加到他们的旗舰工具中,服务提供商正在弄清楚是否有潜力将人工智能支持的服务货币化。人工智能推动翻译和本地化工作的潜在结果之一是对翻译的需求增加——所有这些内容至少需要专家的验证——19%的受访者似乎倾向于这种方式。 另一方面,对市场竞争和定价压力加剧的预期(19%),加上人才稀缺的挑战(10%),继续对企业产生负面影响。 2023年,你预计哪些语言行业趋势会对你的业务产生积极和消极的影响? 立法发展对您的业务有影响吗? 在调查受访者中,略高于三分之一的人表示受到2022年立法变化的影响。他们提到,公司税、国民保险支付、人工智能立法的不确定性、语言访问合规性以及英国退出欧盟带来的持续行政成本可能会发生变化,这些都是需要解决的潜在障碍。 英国的中小企业如何与全球市场趋势相关联? 尽管上述对人工智能在语言服务行业的地位表达了积极的情绪(在另一个问题中,41.3%的受访者认为人工智能将继续影响该行业的未来),但在LLMs和生成式人工智能技术方面,仍有相当一部分LSC(37.9%)倾向于更保守、观望的态度。大多数受访者(60.0%)尚未看到客户对人工智能解决方案的兴趣增加,这一事实证明了这一点,尽管这里的大多数受访者都属于收入低于100万英镑的群体。这表明,就目前而言,人工智能项目仍然主要适用于中型和大型公司。此外,登记对人工智能的需求,然后准备吸收它是两回事,大多数调查受访者(44.8%的受访者)分享说,他们还没有准备好迎接LLMs带来的变化。 在人工智能讨论的同时,48.4%的受访者认为后期编辑服务在他们的投资组合中所占的比例正在增加,这进一步证明了对机器翻译的报道。我们也一直在寻找机器与人类领域的子趋势——LSC转向自动化解决方案(即MT或生成式人工智能)产生的内容质量验证者的角色。虽然一些LSC已经看到这发展成为一种并行服务,但到目前为止,这还不是一种可以全面推广的东西。在口译市场,大流行后对远程口译服务的需求持续强劲,超过70%的受访者声称他们看到了对此类解决方案的更多需求。 如前所述,LSC不得不应对价格压力的现实——54.8%的受访者是这种情况。Nimdzi Insights一直在报道LSC继续从事务性工作转向咨询性战略合作伙伴模式的趋势,但这在英国市场并没有完全体现出来。60%的被调查公司仍然报告说他们的工作主要是事务性的。相当多的40.6%的公司报告说,他们对获得客户渴望的战略合作伙伴维度的想法不温不火,因此这回避了一个问题——他们的工作艰巨,每天都有大量挑战要尝试和解决,LSC在他们使命的“服务”部分花费的时间是否足够?虽然客户和服务提供商似乎在全球市场上面临着同样的逆境,但人们不得不怀疑是否可以做更多的工作来加强沟通,并找到应对同样挑战的共同解决方案。 采访:站在买家的立场上 问:Cristina,从Nimdzi的研究中,我们观察到61%的公司倾向于只与LSC合作。对于客户来说,与自由职业者和LSC混合工作的频率较低(21.9%),但确实发生了。户户送就是这样一个例子。你能简单地向我们介绍一下你是如何来到这里的,以及你是如何实现共生的,以便各方都对这个设置感到满意吗? 克里斯蒂娜:有趣的是,与混合模式相比,只与LSC合作的公司比例很高——这种模式运行良好。对我们来说,走这条路是一个有机的决定。由于本地化位于户户送的技术组织中,在我们创业的日子里,自由职业者大多只从事产品内容和其他一些优先领域的工作。但在过去的两年里,我们的业务经历了巨大的增长——创建了许多团队,重组了其他团队,创建的内容比以往任何时候都多。因此,随着内容现在来自业务的所有不同部分,我们知道只有自由职业者的设置是不够的。还因为我们系统的一个遗留问题是拥有专业的语言学家。例如,我们内部的法语本地化专家专门从事产品和营销本地化,因此我们知道我们需要合适的人员来从事业务的不同部分。这就是我们如何开始将LSC视为平行选项的原因。我们总是可以选择扩大自由职业者的人才库,但按照我们目前的工作速度,这可能是不可持续的。 当建立这个双重系统时,有一点转变,当自由职业者注意到他们突然不是做所有的事情。但是,即使工作量略有减少,通过专注于他们的主题领域,他们已经能够转变为专家,真正的产品专家。双方——自由职业者和LSC——从不相互竞争。对于自由语言学家来说,他们实际上开始接受更多的工作,他们的专业领域有更广泛的任务,比如QA。 确保每个人都快乐本身就是一项工作,但到目前为止一切顺利。尽管我们的利益相关者在技术上可以直接去LSC,但我们作为本地化经理所做的是,我们仍然是与合作伙伴关系的所有者——与所有团体持续共享资源和沟通。这是确保一致性的一个很好的方法,因为各方都积极主动地提问和沟通。不仅仅是我,LSC方面的项目经理们也在积极参与。拥有这种程度的奉献和信任是关键。 问:你认为LSC应该在哪些领域努力才能脱颖而出? 克里斯蒂娜:我想到了几件事——我以前在LSC工作过,我知道有时很难把注意力放在这些事情上。首先,专业化。从我作为客户的角度来看,我想知道致力于我的客户的团队了解他们正在进行的项目,他们知道如何处理不同的情况,并且他们将其外包给正确的语言学家。例如,这是我们在选择合作伙伴LSC时的一个非常重要的标准,因为我们知道他们有一个专门的语言学家团队来处理我们需要的各个领域。我们想要和同样的人一起工作的一致性。然后是技术:拥有一个良好的技术设置,一个可靠的TMS来集中工作,可以插入我们的系统,并提供自动化过程的机会,这是天赐之物。如今,我可以看到越来越多的LSC投资于与客户进行更自动化的合作。最后,这是一个敬业团队的安慰,双方都在培养互利的关系。与同样的人接触是至关重要的,他们不仅在那里回答问题,而且在需要时提供建议。拥有咨询公司的帽子是更多LSC应该考虑的事情。 问题:是什么让你夜不能寐? 克里斯蒂娜:有很多事情可以占据你的头脑。随着户户送的持续增长,这种情况时有发生——也可能发生在其他公司。一个这样的例子是,我们的利益相关者自己去处理本地化,没有通过我们的正式流程工作,我们不知道发生了什么,或者需要放弃我们的优先事项,需要适应。这仍然是我们希望处理与合作伙伴关系的驱动因素之一。这不是不信任LSC的问题,也不是我们的同事去找谁都不能提供高质量的工作的问题,而是关于集中需求的问题。这仍然是一个令人担忧的问题,尤其是我们有3000多名员工,他们可能不知道去哪里满足他们的本地化需求。因此,继续谈论本地化,并确保他们知道我们团队的存在,对我们来说非常重要。 有时这很难控制,但我们试图确保本地化在内部有足够的可见性,以便不同的团队了解如何将产品推向市场。确保本地化受到重视,并被视为与工程学并列的一门适当的学科,这一点至关重要。这对自由职业者和LSC也有直接影响——我们在内部协调计划上做得越多,我们就能为我们的合作伙伴提供越好的支持/提醒,这样他们就有更好的可见性,并能为即将到来的事情做好计划。最终,这会影响每个人的质量。 问题:虽然总体而言,该行业一直在增长,但我们进行的采访指出,2023年将是较慢的一年,因为由于人工智能的出现和经济衰退等外部因素,客户和服务提供商都处于观望状态。你见过外部力量影响你在户户送的工作吗? 克里斯蒂娜:不幸的是,是的。在2022年底和2023年初,我们已经看到事情放缓。仍有工作要做,但预算减少了,所以我们需要优先考虑我们发送到本地化的内容。与同行交谈,你会觉得本地化是危机时刻首先要做的事情之一。但我们实际上是在试图证明相反的情况——如果事情进展不顺利,那么这正是你需要加倍为我们的全球市场提供服务的原因。很自然,我们为我们的合作伙伴感到难过——他们经常问我们一些我们根本没有答案的项目问题。但随着该公司对新功能的再投资,最近情况有所好转。我们在年初面临的限制已经慢慢解除。许多企业,不仅仅是户户送,可能已经利用这段不确定时期重新评估下一步投资方向,这为本地化带来了更多机会。 问:你认为语言服务行业将走向何方? 克里斯蒂娜:人工智能和机器翻译趋势自然是头条新闻。我看到许多公司利用这些新技术来改进他们的流程和创造新的服务。10年前,没有多少人对MT感兴趣,但它已经被证明是有效的。现在,LSC和语言学家也需要继续发展,更加精通这些新技术。在这方面,我们真的没有选择,因为人工智能正在影响整个商业世界。作为人工智能推动的对比——对于那些不希望走上这条路的人来说——我认为继续增加价值的是在数字营销、搜索引擎优化或社交媒体等领域更加专业化。这对于从事这类工作的语言学家来说尤其有效——他们有机会重塑自我。 人工智能时代门口的行业 两年内会发生很多事。2021年,我们报道了由斗志昂扬的中小型企业推动的英国LSC景观如何能够经受住全球疫情和英国退出欧盟的任何负面影响。快进到今天,有一点是肯定的:英国LSC有许多基本面是正确的。 事实上,我们观察到英国市场的强劲增长率。财务基准正朝着正确的方向发展,利率上升,英国有限责任公司正在逆全球范围内减少招聘和扩大活动的趋势而动,他们一直在将更多的技术加入到组合中……然而,现在不是放松和固步自封的时候,因为更多的变化正在发生。 整个语言服务行业都处于观望状态。行业内一些最大公司的2023年半年业绩显示增长持平。各种规模的LSC都报告说,由于客户端的本地化部门看到他们的预算停滞不前或仅略有增加,许多项目被搁置。到底是怎么回事? 从整个报告中可以看出,外部世界继续影响着语言服务行业的进程。经济衰退已经取代了全球疫情。加上地缘政治的不确定性和生活成本的上升,以及全球劳动力的不断变化,英国的LSC肯定不会不受影响。然而,到目前为止,所有这些都是正常的。然而,有一头大象已经进入了这个房间:生成式人工智能。 让我们明确一点:ChatGPT的热潮现在已经结束了。基于我们的定性研究,Nimdzi Insights预计LLMs和生成式人工智能承诺的内容爆炸要到2024年晚些时候才会发生。这是因为每个人都忙于测试各种解决方案,同时找出潜在的安全、保密和道德问题。目前还不清楚人工智能革命将如何长期发展。直接后果是客户暂停他们的大项目,直到人工智能在他们运营中的可行性得到确认。 在行业层面上,我们预计接受人工智能机会的人和不接受人工智能机会的人之间的两极分化将继续下去。虽然乐观是当今的趋势,但重要的是继续提出正确的问题。不久前,业界也问过同样的问题,并找到了答案。 两年后见面,看看英国的语言服务行业是如何掌握人工智能的。