The slightly ominous phrase digital disruption has been a buzzword over the past several years. In this article we will try to explain what does it actually mean, what is the role of translation solutions in the process and how does it affect the language industry.
What is disrupted?
Digital disruption is another name for transformation of the existing products, services, business models, and corporate cultures triggered by development of digital technologies.
It is in many ways comparable with the revolutionary inventions from the past such as wheel, writing, compass, calendar, clock, printing press, steam engine, power transmission, radio, television, computer, all the way to internet and smartphone – all of them were technological disruptions of their times that gradually changed the world to such an extent that we take them for granted, clearly showing that the force of technological disruption is never something that can – or should – be fought against, but rather embraced and adapted to.
Disruption is never really about destroying business; it is about doing things differently and using technology to achieve better results with less effort.
Speed of life
What is different this time is that the exponential increase of pace of digital disruption is literally happening before our eyes. The ways we interact, buy, sell and exchange every kind of information is continuously getting faster, more intuitive and interconnected, consequently impacting our goals and expectations in terms of business as well as any other activity.
But what remains unchanged, though, is the need for a clear, precise, appropriate and error-free cross-cultural or multilingual communication – and this is the part where providers of professional language solutions enter the stage.
Being essentially an auxiliary industry, the language industry has to keep up with the technological developments and, more often than not, predict the direction of changes to stay relevant and deliver the right solutions.
What is not disrupted?
To do this, we need to be fully aware of our history and the very essence of our business, i.e. to understand what are the things that never really change and to apply the latest technologies to them.
The essence of language business is global communication, and it is one of the things that may only become more required as the world is getting increasingly digitized and connected, but professional translation/localization services must also be digital, as they have been at least since word processor was invented.
Technology Eclectic Approach
The service of communicating verbal content from one language to another must closely follow its technical and cultural context, as well as its format and purpose and any other specific dimension.
As the online world is changing with the increasing popularity of multimedia content versus the textual one, we may see the rise of audio and video localization (and lest we forget the infographics as one of the dominant formats of today) in the near future.
While it is highly unlikely that machine translation will replace your good old human translator in our lifetime, application of artificial intelligence is likely to make the MT output more sophisticated and therefore more widely used, consequently increasing demand for the MT post-editing services.
At the same time, as the world is getting more connected, more companies will need to globalize their business operations, increasing demand for localization.
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All of this taken together calls for a technology eclectic approach to development and execution of language solutions that uses all technologies required for a specific project in terms of format, purpose and quality standards and combines them with professional human knowledge for best results.