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Four Crucial Localization Trends from LocWorld 51

What are the biggest trends affecting the localization industry right now? Join us for a round-up of the biggest talking points from LocWorld 51.
A panel of six people, including Georg Ell, CEO of Phrase, engaged in a discussion at LocWorld51. The panelists are seated on high stools in front of a backdrop displaying event sponsors. They are holding microphones and appear to be actively participating in the conversation.

The Phrase team recently joined hundreds of Localization pros from around the world, gathering in Dublin for LocWorld 51.

Always one of the biggest events in the localization calendar, our intrepid team took time to check out the ongoing keynotes, and learn more about how AI and automation are affecting our industry, how localization is becoming a bigger focus for international businesses, and much more.

Here, I’ve gathered a few of the biggest and most important trends we heard about over two packed days. 

1: AI is set to massively disrupt our industry… and that can be a good thing for everyone

2024 is the year that everyone took notice of AI, and the localization industry is no exception.

This year, multiple talks featured AI prominently (as did our recent product launch), and this shouldn’t be a surprise. AI is powering widespread disruption but despite the rate of change, the future for Localization professionals is bright.

One of the key points raised in several talks was that AI is not a magic bullet. It is enhancing efficiency and precision, and by making the right AI choices, companies can localize more content at lower cost and lower risk.

However, the old adage “garbage in, garbage out” remains. So training models and applying rigorous QPS to the results remains pivotal.

As Elin Hauge noted in her keynote “Artificial Intelligence Beyond the Fog of Hype and Hysteria” “Authentic data is the new oil”. Data on its own isn’t enough, and feeding the wrong type of data into AI models only accelerates issues the localization industry has long recognized. 

Data needs to be pertinent and insightful if it is going to be useful, especially when dealing with cultural nuance and the intricacies of local communication expectations.

If handled properly though, the opportunity is enormous, enabling the handling of large volumes of content (including UGC), and making it faster and easier to adapt to new markets.

AI’s role in content adaptation was also a key focus. The CSA’s Alison Toon took attendees on a guided tour of the most effective tools and processes to ensure that businesses can successfully capitalize on their investments in automation. 

Several speakers also referenced the significant impact AI has on content adaption, speeding up the process and ensuring consistency and accuracy across different languages and regions. AI’s capabilities in understanding context and cultural nuances are critical in producing high-quality localized content.

Of course, when dealing with AI, it’s particularly important not to forget about people.

It’s fair to say that there is still some trepidation around how and where AI is implemented, borne out by several sessions focusing on change management.

New technology always brings disruption, but AI can be a creator of jobs, enhancing existing skills, and the place of localization teams within businesses.

Addressing ethical issues such as data privacy, bias in AI algorithms, and the impact on jobs is also critical for gaining trust and acceptance from users.

Ethical AI practices were mentioned as a way to help create inclusive and unbiased localization solutions that respect cultural sensitivities and promote responsible use of technology.

The important takeaway for many managers is that while AI is transforming job roles, it is not actively set to remove them.

While some tasks are becoming automated, there is a growing need for new skills such as AI literacy, data analysis, and quality assurance.

Continuous learning and adaptation are essential to stay relevant in this evolving landscape. Understanding these changes helps businesses and workers prepare for the future and leverage AI’s benefits more effectively.

The Phrase Localization platform team at LocWorld 51 in Dublin, standing in front of their booth with a blue backdrop featuring logos of partner companies like Zendesk, Deliveroo, Decathlon, Shopify, and Snowflake. The team members are wearing black vests with the Phrase logo and name tags
The Phrase team , ready to connect at LocWorld 51

2: The way we measure localization success needs to change

One of the larger themes from the event centered around globalization strategies, something that should be on every localization manager’s mind because of the opportunities it brings to raise the profile of localization.

In the past, translation and localization have been seen as a cost center, or even a non-crucial “nice to have” by many, but – in part due to enhanced AI analytics – that is beginning to change.

In Kevin O’Donnell’s talk on maximizing global revenue, the focus was squarely on the metrics.

Rather than using numbers that give a quantitative view of localization activities, focusing on volume of translation, the most advanced companies are now looking at qualitative, impact-driven metrics.

These help spread awareness of localization’s pivotal importance across the business, showcasing customer engagement with localized content, and how that drives growth, loyalty, and ultimately revenue.

3: Modern localization is all about enhancing user experiences

Service Now’s Emil Atanassov and Riccardo Natoli spoke to the more technical side of usability this year, highlighting the shortcomings of traditional usability metrics (such as success and failure rates around tasks) when measuring localization activities.

Instead, a hybrid approach combining usability metrics and LQA scores can be of benefit, helping showcase the effectiveness of language quality on the bottom line. 

The renewed focus on overall customer experience across the industry not only improves customer retention but also helps build a positive brand image across different markets.

Again, this ties localization directly to revenue, which can only be a good thing for localization professionals.

Beyond this, there was also a focus on “de-siloing” localization teams, with a particular desire to see them integrated more effectively with content and marketing teams to drive better customer experiences.

Sage’s Giselle Tran and Aoife Murphy from Vistatec explored how language teams could enhance content quality, and drive better, more consistent and cost-effective content translation processes.

4: Get ready for the era of automation

A panel of six people, including Georg Ell, CEO of Phrase, engaged in a discussion at LocWorld51. The panelists are seated on high stools in front of a backdrop displaying event sponsors. They are holding microphones and appear to be actively participating in the conversation.
Phrase CEO Georg Ell moderated a panel on hyperautomated localization featuring Esther Curiel (Zoetis), Charlie Keating (Pega), Maziar Nodehi (Venizum), Phil Ritchie (Vistatec), and María Jesús de Arriba Díaz (Workday).

As advanced machine translation and natural language processing tools are improving the accuracy and efficiency of translations, enabling real-time translation, and handling sophisticated idiomatic expressions, automation is becoming increasingly vital for the localization industry, so it’s no wonder that there was so much focus on this topic.

Automation has long been a lever for businesses to drive scale, but as we explored in our panel on Hyperautomation, it’s now reaching the point where human involvement is set to become the exception in localization processes, rather than the rule.

Of course – as we’ve already mentioned – this doesn’t mean localization managers will be left with little to do.

Instead, it’s all about raising their profile and allowing teams to concentrate on more valuable knowledge work, rather than the laborious day-to-day translation process; AI tools handle routine tasks, allowing humans to focus on complex linguistic and cultural nuances.

Combining neural and generative AI to streamline content routing and enhance translation accuracy this transition not only drives substantial cost savings but also maintains quality, meaning more available content with far less risk for brands. 

We also noted several sessions looking at the effect of automation on media localization, with AWS showcasing how multiple technologies such as transcription, streaming, clock orchestration and more could be combined to provide non-latent live subtitling, while Vidby spoke about utilising multi-language tracks for YouTube content.

Technologies like video synthesis and voice cloning are being integrated, providing efficient and high-quality solutions for various media contexts, from corporate audiovisual content to entertainment.

Overall, the localization industry is entering an era of hyperautomation, where advanced AI models optimize workflows, driving efficiency, scalability, and cost savings.

This shift not only benefits the industry but also provides valuable insights into customer behavior and requirements for language service providers and technology providers alike.

In summary, this year’s conference was all about tying human and machine together.

Automating what can be automated, integrating AI to help scale operations, and raising the profile of the localization professionals who are set to take a broader and more visible role in global businesses.

If you attended LocWorld, we’d love to hear about your own experiences and insights on LinkedIn, and be sure to look out for the Phrase team at future events!