We’re entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which emphasizes work automation, interconnectivity, machine learning, and real-time data, while fundamentally altering the way we live, work, and do business. The scale, the scope, and the complexity of the transformation are different than in the first three industrial revolutions, as changes occur exponentially within a very short time. Such a change is also observable in translation technologies and how language service providers (LSPs) operate.

In this article, we’ll discuss how this new era of industrial revolution changes business interactions and relationships, the latest technologies in translation and localization, the crucial roles of data analytics, and the variety of new and improved services offered by LSPs as growth options.

What Industrial Revolution 4.0 is and how it changes the way we do business

The term “Industrial Revolution 4.0” was popularized by Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, in an article for Foreign Affairs and a book titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution. It refers to the current trend of automation and real-time data exchanges, which are made possible with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Robotics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, biotechnology, nanotechnology, quantum computing, materials science, and renewable energy storage are all the results of such technological advancements.

The way we live, work, and do business is greatly affected. Mobile apps allow customers to order daily necessities without even stepping out of their homes. Robo advisors replace stockbrokers who used to help us invest our money. And blockchain-based platforms significantly reduce back-office tasks with increased security and tamper-free data. In the near future, ride-sharing cabs will be driven by autonomous cars.

With such changes, business transactions gain more than just speed, they also require complete remodeling. Business models are no longer based on one-on-one and one-to-many interactions with a lengthy delay of market introduction but have shifted to multi-channel, multi-form, automated, and continuous. In other words, the fourth industrial revolution has transformed the conventional workflow more than simply from analog to digital, but also from clusters of tasks to an infinite loop of progress with a continuous stream of data influxes.

Distance and time have lessened considerably, as data can now be delivered in real time with zero latency. Naturally, this translates to business interactions occurring at a much faster rate as well, from months to days and from days to hours or even minutes.

As information exchanges happen in real time, this requires the completion of multilingual translation and localization within the shortest time possible to preserve the momentum. After all, information is the currency in digital communication.

Most business decisions are made after conducting online research, which includes assessing customer reviews, reading blogs, and scouring social media posts on a particular product or supplier. According to a recent study, customers examine 11 pieces of content in various formats — texts, images, videos, and audios — before making a purchase decision.

This explains the fact that when they make the decision, they’re already well informed. Cited from Demand Gen Report, “B2B customers today progress more than 70 percent of the way through the decision-making process before ever engaging a sales representative.” Supporting this fact, Curata observed that 57 percent of the purchase decision is already complete before the customer calls the supplier.

Such facts attest the importance of content and how it’s presented as an indispensable tool that makes or breaks a business. Therefore, “adapt or perish” isn’t merely a slogan; it’s a working mindset and fundamental philosophy that every task should be based upon. In other words, today’s economy is content driven.

One proven way to adapt successfully in this so-called fourth industrial revolution is by creating and localizing content. Data further suggest that today’s successful brands are those that transform themselves as media companies that produce an extensive amount of content daily, including those created by users, in-house, or outsourcers. Examples include Airbnb, Amazon, Red Bull, and others.

In short, to be successful in the long run, businesses must adapt by creating and accurately localizing content continuously to create a steady stream of sales leads and to interact with customers in a real-time manner. With the latest technologies in translation and localization, this problem can be resolved quickly and professionally through AI-supported LSPs.

See also: Connected Translation: The new paradigm for the language industry

New technologies in translation and localization

To cater to the changing business landscape, LSPs can create a new process built upon automation, cloud computing, and other technologies that both speed up the workflow and reduce costs. For example, pieces can go through an automated machine translation (MT) process, with further post-editing to ensure more human-like results. However, an MT engine’s effectiveness depends on language pairs and type of text. A selection process should be performed with an understanding of each engine’s strengths and weaknesses.

Pro tip: Compare different MT engines on Smartcat

The apparent advantage of using machine translation is speed. However, human translations are preferred for documents with specific technical and literary jargon and artistic expressions.

In the case of post-editing, the human translators’ job is ensuring no mistranslations are left and improving style and fluency. Light post-editing is suitable for internal corporate communication or for written interaction with a short shelf life, like blog comments and emails. Full post-editing is used for improving the overall style, consistency, and fluency of valuable documents, such as books and papers.

While human translators are the first level of quality assurance for translation output, a higher level of QA (quality assurance) can be provided to grade a translation and evaluate new human translators. Metrics include productivity, accuracy, the effectiveness of analyzing information, and customer feedback.

Further reading: Human and machine translation: both alive and kicking — and here to stay

Data analytics

One of the characteristics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the utilization of data analytics in decision making. LSPs should measure their business success using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or “metrics.” Most likely, the data sets are collected using customer relationship management (CRM) software and the CAT tool. Web site analytics should also be used to measure the effectiveness of your LSP’s online presence.

With modern CAT platforms, LSPs can export the data and use it for decision-making analysis. In general, the report includes the number of words translated, the human translators involved per project, the most active human translators, and other activities by project collaborators.

The first step in using translation data analytics is identifying the KPIs to measure. Your success as an LSP isn’t merely about the quality and the quantity of the outputs, but also about the business’ competitiveness and staying power. Therefore, using KPIs that are useful and clear is beneficial.

Second, KPIs can be used to improve the LSP organization, spot problems, and provide solutions before they become unmanageable. Most importantly, they can help in recognizing areas of potential growth and competitiveness. You should prioritize KPIs that directly impact the quality of service received by the customers.

In general, there are three types of KPIs to measure.

First, the translation process and operation measurement.

  • Translation right the first time (error rate)
  • On-time delivery percentage per period (monthly, quarterly, annually)
  • Average project duration (hours per project)
  • Quality rating per human translator
  • Average selling price per word (with and without post-editing)
  • Gross margin total and per project
  • Volume of sales per project manager

Second, business growth and retention.

  • New customers acquired per period (monthly, quarterly, annually)
  • Total revenue per period
  • Revenue from new customers per period
  • Active customers per period
  • Site visitors per period
  • Site visitor conversion per period
  • Conversion rate from site visitors
  • Customer retention rate

Three, overall customer experience.

  • Customer experience score (1 to 10)
  • Customer satisfaction rate in percentage

While structured data are preferred, sometimes LSPs must deal with unstructured data, such as complaints and praises from customers. To ensure every interaction with customers, translators, and collaborators is taken into account, they should be recorded properly. Also, use written communication whenever possible and record phone calls or voice chats.

Further reading: How to use KPIs to measure the success of your LSP

Growth Options for LSPs

In this Industrial Revolution 4.0 era, every company is a media company, including LSPs. Therefore, approaching marketing strategies like a media company should come naturally as it would fit today’s ideal customer profiles’ (ICP) that also focus on creating a massive amount of content, including user-created and for user experience (UX) purposes.

To begin with, it’s recommended to create an ICP, which includes the demographics of the targeted companies, their pain points, specific needs, values, and goals. In marketing, an ICP is also known as “buyer’s persona.” However, an ICP also includes information on how they select LSP vendors and the considerations that affect their purchase decision.

While each LSP has its specialization, in general, you should focus on targeting companies that produce content on a massive scale. Also, ideally, they will have used conventional LSPs in the past and be dissatisfied with the obsolete localization processes. They might or might not have known that there are better solutions out there, such as yours. Other possible target companies are those that continuously seek for better and more cost-effective options.

Identifying demand is another crucial step to master. Some industries leverage the content economy to their advantage, niche industries with specific translation and localization needs, and companies targeting emerging regions.

The next step is to differentiate your LSP by accurately offering uniquely positioned services. Unique value proposition (UVP) should make your LSP sound one-of-a-kind. However, prospects need more than something that sounds typical, like “providing the most error-free translation outputs with the lowest cost and the best customer service” or something of that sort.

With today’s available translation technologies, your LSP has the capability to provide connected multilingual translation services with continuous localization. By focusing on this ability instead of the “typical” UVP, you’ll be able to differentiate your services at a whole new level.

“Continuous localization” refers to continuous delivery in real time. How? By providing several workflow options with relative pricing based on the type of content, and integrating the LSP’s translation services into the client’s existing workflow and customer relationship management (CRM) and content management system (CMS) landscapes.

In addition, your LSP can offer services that are cost-efficient, error-free, continuous, and covering more language pairs, including rare ones. Such offerings would make the new UVP much easier to create and prove, such as with tracking KPIs, writing and disseminating detailed case studies and white papers, and providing easy access to trial accounts and product demos.

Once you’ve earned the trust of customers with their projects, earning their loyalty would be the next logical step. Since the clients’ demand is likely to continue to increase as their content grows, LSPs should think a few steps ahead by offering relevant services to the ever-changing business landscape.

TL;DR

Industrial Revolution 4.0 changes many aspects of our lives and how we do business, as the emergence of the current content economy attests to. With every company behaving like a media company that produces a colossal amount of content, LSPs are now facing an unprecedented demand for hyper-localization. The good news is, with today’s AI-powered translation technologies, now content translation and localization can be completed in a much quicker way and continuously, allowing LSPs to both grow fast and ensure their staying power.