5 trends impacting technology localization in 2019
applingua is privileged to work with some of the world’s leading software and mobile development companies, partnering with visionary leaders in high-growth fields around the world.
From our unique vantage point in helping to bring cutting edge products and services to a global audience, we look at five key trends in technology innovation and how they are set to impact the localization industry in 2019 and beyond.
Of all the trends shaping the technology landscape of the future, nothing has captured the imagination quite like AI.
Investment continues to pour into both research and functional applications. Tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft are betting big on the longterm potential of the sector with a seemingly non-stop string of acquisitions to bolster their capabilities.
Although we are beginning to witness a widening array of real-world use cases, much of the buzz around AI stems from the excitement that we are still only scratching the surface of where it will eventually take us.
In the localization industry, the most widely reported impact of artificial intelligence has been in the field of Machine Translation (MT),particularly in relation to advances in Neural Machine Translation (NMT).
Studies show a boom in ongoing research into improving the quality of AI powered machine translation, and while humans remain a vital part of the translation process, the working dynamic is continually evolving as the sophistication of automated solutions progresses.
MT isn’t the only way that AI is affecting the localization sector. In addition to facilitating the translation of content from one language into another, AI is playing a growing role in creating original source content.
Under the umbrella heading of NLG (Natural Language Generation), various technologies have been successfully deployed to synthesise human generated content from diverse data sources, effectively replicating the work done by traditional reporters or analysts.
Mainstream publications such as Forbes, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters and other leading media companies all use Machine Learning tools to help automate their content creation, and it’s likely that the volume of computer-generated content will increase rapidly in other fields.
With robo content and computer assisted translation both evolving rapidly, artificial intelligence will continue to impact not only the way we localize content, but also the way we produce and consume it.
In a field closely linked to AI, the rise of voice search and voice operated devices is another key area changing the way in which both hardware and software are localized for international consumers.
Tools which were previously controlled via a text based or computer interface are now evolving to include a new layer of voice commands. These require an accompanying tier of language support, together with a wealth of data to train machine learning engines on accurate recognition of languages, accents and dialects.
Although the most well known examples of voice controlled devices are Amazon Echo and Google Home, the range of deployment for voice technology is growing fast.
Progress has been rapid in the field of speech technology for cars, enabling true handsfree control of everything from navigation to entertainment to air conditioning. Other sectors such as education, home appliances, gardening equipment and medical devices are also developing voice integration capabilities.
As well as changing how we communicate with our tools, voice is also altering the way consumers search for products and services.
After years of marketers battling to stay ahead in international search rankings through multilingual SEO, the emergence of VSO (Voice Search Optimization) has changed the game again.
Dubbed the ‘new frontier’ of digital marketing, voice search requires a fresh approach by companies aiming to rank for specific keywords and user searches. Shorter, more concise answers, faster page loading times and appearing in Google’s ‘featured snippets’ are just some of the elements in the mix.
Ensuring that hardware, software and global content are localized optimally to capitalise on the new demands and opportunities presented by the advent of voice is a critical challenge facing companies worldwide.
Internet Of Things
Linking components of both artificial intelligence and voice operation is the expanding world of connected devices.
Known as the Internet of Things or IoT, this niche of the technology domain groups any object capable of sending and receiving data through a network connection.
Including household objects such as Fitbits, wifi controlled lighting and smart thermostats, the IoT also has far reaching applications in virtually all industry sectors, from complex manufacturing equipment to advanced sport science and medical diagnosis.
The surge in the number of online devices is creating new challenges for localization, as they participate in live and changing data exchanges which can continually move the goalposts concerning translation requirements.
Where language issues relating to traditional offline hardware or machinery were largely confined to the pre defined parameters of a device’s firmware, IoT technology is connected to a constantly evolving data source and powered by a continually evolving engine.
IoT devices continue to use a base of embedded firmware but combine this with mobile apps, web back end and front end components. From a localization perspective the tools, workflows, risks and delivery schedules between these stacks are very different and the necessity for all elements to communicate seamlessly across language barriers is driving new innovation in localization program development.
Made famous by the explosion of overnight cryptocurrency millionaires riding the Bitcoin wave, a blockchain is essentially an incorruptible digital ledger that is not controlled by any central authority.
Blockchain is a way of indelibly recording transactions. While these were initially of a financial nature, the technology is now being opened up to include transactions recording virtually anything of value or informational importance.
Use cases for blockchain technology are being explored across all industries and the localization sector is no different.
Early enthusiasts cite blockchain as a way for embedding translator identity at the outset of localization projects, ensuring payment, recognition and quality issues can be reliably tracked to the correct individual even amidst complex, multi-phase language programs spanning many years.
Blockchain also has the capability to help both buyers and vendors of localization services navigate compliance issues in regulated industries, by creating a smart contract which automatically enforces the terms of the agreement and, where needed, any penalties involved.
Lastly, the technology may be adaptable to managing the wider localization delivery process by accelerating the approval, collaborating and payment steps necessary in the supply chain.
The precision, transparency and lack of governing authority innate to blockchains has the potential to provide a platform for multiple suppliers to engage together in delivering localization programs faster and more accurately.
The need to remain compliant on a global scale and across language barriers has shaped many of the core quality assurance processes common across the localization industry today.
For some sectors, such as pharmaceutical, clinical trials and the broader life sciences field, both ethical and legal pressures have long demanded highly rigorous delivery standards from language vendors.
But in the field of emerging technologies, the pace of innovation often outstrips the evolution of supporting legal apparatus.
Lagging behind every surge in tech development is a latent world of legal change, which will eventually place new boundaries on information security and corporate responsibility in response to the new technological landscape created.
Localization strategies will need to ensure they remain compliant with new legislation, whether it pertains to personal privacy, data security or adhering to new quality models and frameworks.
Bleeding edge technology may enjoy a form of temporary immunity from cumbersome administrative red tape and direct legal precedent, but as core disciplines mature the need for a new model of secure, compliant localization service delivery will emerge in parallel.