August 2016

Post-edited machine translation among fastest-growing segments of the language industry

People around the world prefer communicating in their native tongue. That fact will drive the language industry to US$40 billion in revenue for 2016. However, as content volumes and numbers of language increase, LSPs will not be able to meet what is coming without the aid of technology.

Since January 2016 Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research) has surveyed over 900 representatives of global enterprises, LSPs and freelance translators on how they use MT in their daily operations. It is the latest research in the company’s twelve years of tracking the size of the market, trends in demand, and fastest-growing segments.

Its research on enterprise demand for MT details current and forecasted demands for various kinds of translation. The firm recently released a series of MT reports that address the enterprise and LSP sides of the equation, how increasing translation volumes affect content creators and language companies, and how LSPs can decide whether or not to offer post-editing services. The survey-based research shows that LSPs with an aggressive MT implementation approach between 2013 and 2015 grew almost 3.5 times more quickly than those with a conservative one.

In addition, the research series contains the following findings:

  • MT is here to stay. Usage rates for MT have made steady gains in recent years it is near a tipping point: It is now on a path to become a mainstream solution for both enterprises and LSPs within the next three years.
  • MT is not doing away with human translators. They have long worried that buyers will replace them with sub-par MT. Although some translation jobs will be lost to MT, overall demand for human translation will continue to grow.
  • Post-edited MT is the growth opportunity for LSPs. Large enterprises expect double-digit annual growth rates in translation, growth that present methods cannot possibly keep up with, even if the language industry were to add new translators at a historically unprecedented rate. Demand for post-editing services will grow faster than any other segment of the language industry and will allow LSPs to maintain quality while simultaneously delivering higher volumes.
  • New technologies are transforming the MT landscape. Translators may have mixed feelings about post-editing, but new technologies are changing how translators interact with MT. These tools each take different approaches to give control back to the translator while also gaining the productivity advantages that MT can provide.

"Our research shows that MT is profoundly changing the landscape of the language industry. However, it will not eliminate the need for second languages or replace translators, certainly not any time soon," comments Arle Lommel, senior analyst at CSA Research. "With dramatic growth in content volumes coming in the next few years, technology will have to be a part of the mix for most LSPs. But post-editing itself is changing dramatically in ways that help put languages professionals back in control. Far from displacing them, we predict that the number of situations where high-value transactions occur – i.e., those requiring human translators and interpreters – will go up, not down, making post-editing the next big revenue opportunity for LSPs."

CSA Research predicts that by 2019 the majority of both LSPs and enterprise buyers of translation services will use MT for at least some portion of their international content production.

The full series of reports are available as part of the firm’s research membership.

www.commonsenseadvisory.com