Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What I expect for 2012

As the song goes, "it's the most wonderful time of the year". It's the time to make predictions.

Before going into my expectations for 2012, I took a look at what I wrote last year, and I believe that my predictions for 2011 materialized.

Content is indeed being served in smaller chunks and requiring faster turnaround times. There is more demand for multimedia translations such as video, and also for interpretation both on-site and over the phone. So voice was in fact more in demand in 2011.

Last week, LinkedIn announced that their website was now available in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Korean. Several other companies have done the same. Brazilian Portuguese was one of the fastest-growing languages, but also one with the most quality and delivery problems.

What didn't happen at the pace that I expected, was the number of mergers and acquisitions in the industry in 2011. There have been some, but no major mergers.

The topics that I expect to hear about in 2012 are more related to startups. There is going to be an increased focus on on-demand translations. Companies like Speaklike, MyGengo, Smartling,, LanguageWire, Tolingo, and OneHourTranslation will be all over the place. Larger players will also offer their own solutions. Companies will be able to find efficiencies in moving down to smaller projects.

I also believe that we are going to be talking about marketplaces again. This sounds so 1999, but companies like Cloudwords and OpenBorder will be offering an online marketplace for translation companies to bid on projects of traditional buyers. Proz tried that before, but who knows... the times are different.

The automation of small project workflows, will require an increased productivity on the part of project managers. The most requested job in the translation industry will actually be project management, but the role of the project manager will shift more rapidly from closely managing resources to managing exceptions.

I don't think that the economy is in shape for many mergers and acquisitions. But we will hear about some of them happening. Companies like Welocalize and Transperfect still have plenty of cash, and there are companies for sale in the market. It is just a matter of finding the right price point.