Jul 15, 2020
7 min read
India’s lingual diversity has always been its cultural highpoint. It, therefore, is barely surprising to see it shaping the internet and its rise in India.
9 out of 10 Indians on the internet are non-English users. The Indian heartland continues to leapfrog and embrace the internet, with rural penetration up to 57% now and growing.
It has led to the Indian internet getting more regionalized and tuned to the lingual needs of the masses. Language and localization is now a key area in businesses’ roadmap to grow their customer base and retain their existing one. After all, the move from India to Bharat calls for speaking the language the vast populace is proud of and understands well. As a natural outcome, translation services, and language service providers (LSPs) have witnessed a rising demand. The demand spans across industries and various use cases – from eCommerce portals localizing their catalogs to insurance providers translating their documentation to B2B platforms localizing their vendor onboarding communication.
Lost in translation
With its lingual diversity and the ever-growing need for localized content, it seems to be a total “right place at the right time” moment for translation service providers in India. Except that, it’s not a comfortable place to be in – at least for now. The Indian translation industry is undoubtedly in the middle of the most significant demand surge. Just like what happens with most of these spikes, the industry has hit the classic demand-supply roadblock. These challenges impact the freelance translators, language service providers, and clients alike, making them stand out as hindrances in getting stuff done and the growth of the translation ecosystem in India. We’d summarize the challenges faced as the 3U’s – unorganized, unreliable, unscalable.
As one begins to spell out these challenges, the first one to stand tall is that of the unorganized and fragmented nature of the industry. Let’s face it – for the longest time, translation jobs in India at best were meant to be a source of side income or moonlighting endeavors. The rise in demand calls for an organized service delivery standards, scaling up to which can take a while.
The unorganized state of affairs
For a client, the first and the foremost step in the journey of localization is to finalize a service provider. It is where the initial challenges start to manifest. Around 453 languages and dialects are spoken in India, with some of them being quite obscure. And it is only in the last few years that translation companies have started coming up.
Most of the LSPs rely on smaller companies, home-based businesses, and freelancers. In such a setup, allocating work, sharing context, approvals, and keeping work progress in check is quite tricky and plain chaotic. The lack of a unified and streamlined workflow further makes it difficult for LSPs to deliver on time and manage their projects.
Now, it is essential to understand that translation in India has never been a full-time occupation. For most of the professionals, it is a side gig to earn extra income. Even if the skilled translators want to make it their full-time occupation, there’s no platform where they can find regular work.
It has a direct impact on their output, wherein a substantial uncertainty looms around dedication and consistency. Ultimately, both the client and the service provider are impacted in equal measures wherein the former feel clueless, and the latter feels helpless.
The creeping unreliability
As you dive deeper into the industry, non-standardization and lack of shared best practices and benchmarks become apparent. It has considerably hampered the growth of the translation industry in India.
There is no accreditation system or formal training that helps the industry identify skilled professionals and agencies. The public education sector doesn’t offer any professional specialization courses either. Besides, it’s a general perception that a language degree is enough to be a translation professional, but this is untrue.
Moreover, the economics of the profession makes it very difficult for those interested in pursuing it. We have a considerable shortage of skilled talent for Indian languages.
Therefore, the sub-standard localized content, exploitation of human resources, and inconsistent delivery practices.
You might also find that every service provider in the industry works on a different pricing model. Varying timelines and quality assurances are offered, making the client feel at a loss when selecting a service provider. The absence of any uniform accuracy benchmarks causes ambiguity about the acceptable error-margins. On average, these error-margins vary between 10% to 40% from one service provider to another.
Additionally, translation being an art form involves a lot of subjectivity. The experiences, personal sensibilities, ideologies, and awareness of a translator have a high-degree impact on the output. For example, a translator with experience of translating banking documents for retail customers might require some calibration when translating the same material for an enterprise customer. It is because both these audiences have different needs, i.e., a retail customer would better understand a simple language and the enterprise customer needs technical and legal details explained.
At a project manager level, these issues are handled by creating a list of translated terms that help retain the relevance and context. However, it becomes a big challenge for project managers when working with multiple freelancers or on a large volume project.
Stuck on the unscalable route
The last in our list of challenges for the translation industry is the missing agility to handle large volume projects. Most service providers are ill-equipped to scale their operations as and when required. Because of this, most such projects get shelved even before they take-off.
The workload capacity of an LSP is limited to their bandwidth. At a particular time, there’s only as much they can take up and deliver. However, in the case of large volume and dynamic projects, wherein the content gets updated regularly, businesses seek a higher speed of translation while also maintaining accuracy.
Even if a service provider attempts to stretch out its operational capacity by hiring new talent, it faces insurmountable challenges. Not only their running costs increase, but the managerial burden also multiplies, increasing the instances of inaccuracies.
Businesses, specifically in banking, finance, health, and education, have highly critical content that needs only perfect translation. These businesses struggle, in particular, to find the LSP who can handle large volume projects. Now, even if they think about pooling in multiple LSPs, they have to reinvent the whole wheel of sending RFPs, proposals, discussions, and so on. It becomes too complicated too soon, and it just is not a manageable model of localization.
It is sad considering a lot of businesses in and outside India are keen on reaching the next billion.
The silver lining, however, in all this is that these are all good to have challenges. The nature of these challenges indicates that we are well on the right trajectory to growth. It is an exciting intersection where the demand for localization has rocketed while the technology advancement is ready to support the industry.
How Prabandhak helps
Using the right tools and practices should help us scale and set benchmarks for the global translation industry. It is where Prabandhak comes. Prabandhak is an AI-powered translation collaboration hub that is uniquely equipped to streamline workflows and make project management efficient. It makes translation easy by bringing everyone together – the people, content, and technology.
Project managers no longer need to create manual lists of words and terms. Prabandhak automatically extracts the terms from the document and gives real-time suggestions to the translators as they work. It ensures your content stays accurate and relevant for its audience. It also provides greater ease to delegate, track, and manage various projects all from a single dashboard, bringing the focus back on what matters – the quality of the output.
Prabandhak can also adapt to a translator’s unique style and make intelligent predictions, ensuring your personal style remains consistent in every project you deliver.
It’s a complete solution that remedies the Indian translation industry by making it more organized, reliable, and scalable.
Indian language content is witnessing a significant demand, as more and more users are consuming content in their native language. This trend is set to continue for years to come. More and more businesses that publish their content online will translate their content for various purposes.
With this, the translation industry needs to overcome the challenges it has been facing for years now. It needs to be organized at all levels and define the quality benchmarks. Only a ground-up level of change will ensure that we are ready to meet the market demand.
Technology, here, will play the role of an accelerator to bring the Indian translation industry up to speed and improve its standards. The early adopters are set to benefit the most.
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