July 31, 2011

By Ofer Tirosh

Which Industries Rely Upon Translation Services the Most?

When you type a similar query into Google or any other search engine, the results never have a link that answers the question. Instead, what pops up are a whole bunch of copy write from language service providers, specialized LSP companies, and translation company web pages.

What you won't see is any relevant link to a source that provides a list or some other research with an answer as to which industries most need Russian translation, Japanese translation, French translation or language services in general. What you will see are links for one translation agency after another.

Why? Because theses websites are filled with copy about the industries they target – by insisting that these same industries are also in the most need of language services. This can tell us something in and of itself, but as of yet, there seems to be no solidified or candid answer to this, no matter how you phrase the search (maybe Google should work on this particular search algorithm, eh?)

This could be because most likely, answers to this question vary regionally, and most certainly globally. The industries that have the most demand for professional translation services in New York may be different from Washington D.C., and worlds apart from those needed most in Tokyo or Beijing.

For example, the Masters of Science in Professional Translation Services Program at NYU offers legal translation, financial translation, and software localization as the three options for graduate study in that program. According to the director, these three industries heavily rely upon translation services in order to competently function in the city of New York.

On the other hand, several interpreting firms in Washington D.C. claim that the industries for which translation and interpretation are most crucial are medical translation, legal translation, insurance translation and tourism and travel translation.

Additionally, the languages for this area that are most needed are German translation, Spanish translation and surprisingly, Filipino translation. According to various European based LSPs, the automotive industry has a very high demand for language translation services, in addition to IT and technical translation for online, software, website and API based texts and materials. In the UK, RWS Holdings PLC, one of the world's biggest LSP companies – primarily services patent translations.

High Demand – Not Possible Demand – Is Where to Focus Translation Services

So, without a direct resource or report of which industries use language services the most, how do we know?

As hinted at earlier, it really can be revealed with an overall look at the translation output by your own LSP, as well as by looking at both general large translation companies, and those who specialize in a particular language service.

For example, since RWS Holdings PLC is one of the largest companies in the LSP industry, and because many, many other small and large translation agencies also emphasize or offer patent translations, we can safely assume that patents are in regular demand of professional translation services.

Likewise for legal translation, medical translation, and technical translation. Technology and IT language services have a huge demand worldwide, and many LSPs create their entire business by offering just a couple specialized services, like software localization, website translation or video game localization.

At this point, you may be thinking – duhh. It doesn't take research and an entire article to figure out which industries have a high demand for translation services. These may sound like the same industries many LSP agencies already service – and that is true. But with a closer look at some translation agencies, you'll find some pretty unnecessary service categories.

Even though the aforementioned industries have an undeniable need, for example, English to Spanish translation for their Spanish speaking audiences - there are many superfluous industry categories that plenty of LSPs waste time and resources on. Especially when those categories may have few to zero customers. Which means, those resources could be better spent upon customers and businesses that have a high demand for top-notch LSPs.

Some of the better ranking translation agencies on Google had service categories like humanitarian translation, computer translation, and biotech translation. Computer translation as a service category is sort of ridiculous. No one translates a computer. Computer translation typically refers to machine translation, or computer-assisted translation, which is what translators use to translate faster.

And when is the last time you remember anyone needing a humanitarian translation? What does that even mean? While biotech translation might get a few scattered searches – they could simply be categorized under technical translation. These left-field categories are likely on their respective LSP sites, so those LSPs receive the few and far between online searches made for them – which for something like computer translation, is pretty pointless.

It's important for a professional translation company to remain focused upon the businesses and industries in real need of language services. It takes away time and resources from them, just to try to cover every possible industry category that might need a translation, sometime, somewhere.

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