Global businesses had to work hard to keep up with all the changes in 2023. Fueled by ChatGPT and its generative AI siblings, demand for content continued to skyrocket, and demand for translation, interpretation and localization grew right along with it. Customers wanted more—more content, more personalization, and all of it in their language. Businesses had to adapt their localization strategies to adjust for all of this disruption.
Could 2024 possibly be more dramatic? Here at ULG, we think so.
As we step into the new year, our experts have identified ten key trends that will influence your language strategy in 2024. Here’s what to watch for in the year to come:
1. The Rise in Use of AI for Localization Tasks
AI is playing an increasingly important role in translation and localization, automating many of the tasks that were once done manually.
Earlier models of AI-powered translation (like neural machine translation) will continue to advance while large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT will unlock new methods and processes to translate even higher volumes of content.
Beyond simply translating content, AI-powered tools can:
- Identify and correct errors in translations
- Generate multilingual content
- Adapt content to different cultural contexts
One important caveat: Human linguists will remain essential.
AI is still fallible. It struggles with biases inherent in its training data, it’s not always accurate, and LLMs are prone to hallucinations. Human expertise is necessary to maintain a high standard of quality.
To get the benefits of an AI-powered language strategy, organizations need to understand these strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.
Use our AI readiness assessment to determine whether or not your organization is prepared to deploy AI translation successfully.
2. The Growing Importance of Global Customer Experience (CX)
In today's global marketplace, businesses need to provide a superior and consistent customer experience across all regions. Customer experience is a huge differentiator in a world where there is a large competitive field for many products and services. Localization is an integral part of customer experience because people prefer native language content. For example, 76% of online users prefer accessing content in their native language, even if they understand English.
Localization includes making sure that product packaging, marketing materials, and customer support are all customized and adapted for the local market.
3. Personalization in Localization Takes Off
Consumers increasingly expect personalized experiences and penalize organizations that don’t provide them. For example, according to McKinsey, 71% of companies expect businesses to personalize their interactions, and 67% become frustrated when their experiences are not personalized.
Companies have already begun to combine personalization and localization, using data to tailor their localization efforts to the specific needs of each customer. This can involve using different languages, cultural references, and even product or content recommendations. For example, Netflix doesn’t just serve up personalized recommendations based on what their international viewers have watched before. They also localize the images they show in the recommendations to reflect cultural preferences.
4. The Increasing Need for Data-Driven Localization
Forward-thinking organizations can combine current massive amounts of data with the power of AI to create more effective localization strategies. Advances in AI are poised to make more of this data usable than ever before, by providing context and analysis at a level that was previously impossible. Here’s how:
- Using advanced analytics with customized reporting tools to optimize costs, improve workflows, and control translation quality.
- Analyzing data-rich channels like eLearning resources and eCommerce platforms to inform localization strategies and guide decisions on content translation.
- Building user profiles and market-specific strategies by using data on user demographics and behavior to determine effective localization strategies for specific regions.
- Using data-driven budgeting decisions for efficient resource use by translating high-value content and using machine translation for the rest.
- Analyzing social media metrics to uncover insights into market sentiment and areas for growth.
- Using data to iterate and continuously refine strategies to meet global market demands.
5. Demand for Translated Content Will Continue to Grow
The volume of content that needs to be translated and localized will continue to grow in 2024, driven by businesses’ increasing content needs in the context of global expansion and the continued growth in user-generated content. Demand will be especially fierce in the following sectors:
- Technology, with demand driven by the need for software localization, user manuals, and global product launches.
- Health, including multilingual medical documentation, patient care instructions, and health information apps.
- Legal and financial, driven by the need for contracts, regulatory documents, and financial reports that are essential to global businesses.
- eCommerce, including website localization and customer services.
To stay on top of this demand without compromising quality, organizations will need to find a flexible, scalable and agile approach, using AI translation to increase productivity while relying on human experts to guarantee accuracy and cultural resonance.
6. More Demand for the Languages of Emerging Markets
The traditional focus on Western European languages is giving way to a broader focus on languages spoken in emerging markets, such as South and Southeast Asia (Indonesian, Vietnamese), Eastern Europe (Polish, Czech), and Africa (Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba).
This is due to the increasing economic power of these markets and the growing demand for products and services coming from these regions.
However, it’s important to note that AI translation is not always as accurate for less-resourced languages, which lack the large volume of online content needed for training. A language solutions provider can help you find the right MT engine for the job and design a workflow that maintains the quality you seek.
7. The Rise of Localization for Emerging Technologies
As new technologies like voice assistants, chatbots, and augmented reality begin to pick up steam, localization of these technologies will become increasingly important to make sure they are accessible and usable in multiple languages and cultural contexts.
Voice assistants need to be able to recognize different languages and regional dialects, chatbots must be able to come up with culturally appropriate responses in different languages, and the inherent biases in today’s AI models must be addressed to make sure these products provide the best possible experience for all users. For AI applications, this may involve training the models with localized data and customizing them to serve localized personas.
8. Accessibility Takes Center Stage
Businesses are realizing that they need to make their content accessible to people with disabilities across all the languages and cultures that they support.
Incorporating accessibility into localization can include:
- Using alternative text for images.
- Providing translated transcripts for audio and video content.
- Providing content in alternative formats, like Braille, large print and Easy Read.
- Designing websites and apps so that they are usable with assistive technologies.
9. Technology Expands Interpretation Options
The future of interpretation is all about using technology to improve experiences.
Technologies that support remote video interpretation and remote simultaneous interpretation will become more widely available, creating a better experience for everyone involved when an interpreter is required.
AI also appears promising in some situations but will need to be implemented cautiously—it’s never an alternative to a human linguist in serious legal, medical, or financial situations.
10. More Regulations Governing Language Access Requirements in the U.S.
The regulatory landscape for translation, interpretation, and localization is constantly evolving. In 2024, language access efforts (provision of translated and localized material for non-native-English-speakers) will be required in even more situations, especially in sectors like healthcare and life sciences. For example, the new Final Rule for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs strengthens translation and accessible format requirements for enrollees, while other regulations in both the US and Europe encourage language access for clinical trials.
How Should These Trends Shift Your Language Strategy for 2024?
You don’t have to navigate all these shifts alone. Whether you’d like to implement AI translation, improve language access and the experience you offer to multilingual, multicultural consumers, or expand your localization program to include new markets, our team is here to help. Contact us for a consultation and see how we can help you grow in 2024!