Quo vadis, language services industry?

Quo vadis, language services industry?

Digital revolution, transformation, disruptive technologies – 21st century buzzwords that seem to permeate every walk of life, and the language services industry is no exception. Similarly, value creation and customer experience appear to be at the core of every self-respecting company’s operations. What does it all mean for the LSPs in general, and for Semantix in particular?

Published 9/11/2018

I recently attended the #KIELI2018 conference for language service industry professionals. Held at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Finland, the conference attracted some 100 participants, mainly Finnish translation company owners/directors and employees, some freelancers, and some university representatives. The objective was to discuss the current status and the future of the language services industry in Finland, but in fact the concerns expressed and the ideas presented are universally applicable. The language services industry is becoming increasingly global, which makes the geographic location of a company less relevant.

It’s not about words, it’s about value

Traditionally, the translation business has been about selling words. Most, if not all, professional service providers today use CAT tools, i.e. translation memories and termbases, to reuse previously translated words for improved cost-efficiency and terminological consistency. But, some conference participants suggested, selling words will soon be a thing of the past. Translation will remain a part of the package, but only a small part. The package will consist of many other elements and components, such as an API, technology solutions, artificial intelligence, speech to text solutions, to name just a few. The ultimate goal is to create added value. Something more than just words; an entire solution to a specific need.

Service design meets language services

Service design is another popular, much talked about and highly elusive concept. Nielsen Norman Group provides the following definition: Service design is the activity of planning and organizing a business’s resources (people, props, and processes) in order to (1) directly improve the employee’s experience, and (2) indirectly, the customer’s experience.[1].

In one of the conference presentations, service design was referred to as a set of tools that can help you identify your customer and their needs, test your service concept in real life at a reasonable price, get feedback from your target group, and improve your concept based on that feedback. It also helps you understand what constitutes value for the customer, or to identify which problem you are solving. Ideally, in order to gain a broader perspective into your customer’s needs, your service design team should comprise people with different educational and professional backgrounds.

Semantix on a transformational journey

What, then, does the above mean for us at Semantix? How does the digital transformation reflect on our business, our services, our customers and our employees?

Participating in a panel discussion at the #KIELI2018 conference, our CEO Patrik Attemark said we will focus more on the customer interface and on making language technology more accessible to our customers. We aim to move higher up in the value chain, and become a trusted partner our customers will turn to for a solution instead of simply buying translations. By engaging earlier in cooperation with customers, our specialists will be able to discover potentially unidentified needs and address them, or to see opportunities for process improvement that could generate significant savings for the customer.       

Above all, digital transformation requires a change of mindset and business models. It starts with having a customer centric approach in everything we do. It is about understanding what our customers need and how they want to interact with us. Digital transformation happens in a wide context of IT infrastructure, technology solutions, sales, operations and marketing, which means it affects all of us at Semantix. Rather than seeing technology as a threat, we see it as a huge opportunity. It is a chance to learn new ways of working and serving our customers in smarter and more exciting ways.

[1] https://www.nngroup.com/articles/service-design-101/

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