Staying Alive: How to Be a Tech-Savvy LSP in 2017
Technology is crucial for language service providers (LSPs), not just for growth but even for survival in a rapidly changing market landscape. Earlier this year, we reviewed technology survey answers for 728 providers and interviewed a cross-section of 30 translation and interpreting companies in 12 countries. Using this combination of quantitative and qualitative data, CSA Research wanted to see how aligning the LSP Metrix™ maturity model and the Tech-Savvy typology – originally published in 2010 – can guide LSPs in their technology strategy. In new research published today, we find that the typology defines phases of adoption – rather than preferential choices – that link closely to LSP Metrix stage.
We now know that LSPs graduate from one adoption style to the next, shifting from simple applications to complex systems. The most advanced companies eventually unify multiple production and business systems to share tasks and information within a higher-level, proprietary platform. These changes occur in a logical progression as they – and their market niche – grow and mature. That is, unless they stall out along the way, or regress to an earlier phase due to loss of business or talent. Likewise, enterprise translation buyers can improve evaluation criteria for vendor selection and performance management. Software vendors selling to LSPs can adapt features and messaging using the five Tech-Savvy types shown below as market segments.
Tech-savvy takeaways from this report:
- Do LSPs need to develop their own software? Proprietary technology development becomes increasingly important as LSPs mature, and may be necessary to reach LSP Metrix Stage 5. The operations of late Stage 4 companies often rely on capabilities built on proprietary systems, adding features not readily available in commercial tools. If technology vendors add these capabilities in the future, more LSPs will enter and progress through LSP Metrix Stage 4. Stage 5 almost certainly requires custom development, as a Super Servicer or as a Dream Machine Builder.
- Which LSPs mature the fastest? Fast-Track LSPs mature – and adopt technology – faster. Their early focus on proprietary development paints them as Smart Builders rather than Smart Buyers. Their passage through the Assiduous Assembler phase can be rapid, and characterized more by customized deployments of their own tools, and less by adoption of multiple production environments – but there is no hard line between these approaches.
- What’s the best route to Super Servicer? Fast-Track companies may adopt technology as Super Servicers sooner. However, other companies spend longer periods of time thriving as Assiduous Assemblers. As a result, they gain deeper experience working in a broader range of production environments. The extra exposure, skills, and knowledge gained during this phase may allow them to make better decisions in the long run, as they consolidate systems and processes during Stage 4. Assuming they go on to become Super Servicers, these companies may end up with more encompassing systems, giving them a head start on the technology frameworks required to achieve Stage 5.
By understanding how the maturity model and tech-savvy typology overlap, LSPs can make safer and smarter decisions and avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of the language industry – over- and under-investment in technology.
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