The Size and Shape of the Language Services Industry in 2012 - Our Analysts' Insights

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The Size and Shape of the Language Services Industry in 2012

This year marks the seventh year that Common Sense Advisory has published estimates of the size of the language services market and its compound annual growth rate. Each time, we publish more detail than the year before, and 2012 is no exception. In addition to publishing rankings for nine different geographies (Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe, Latin America, North America, and Oceania), we have expanded our global ranking to include the top 100 language service providers (LSPs).Why did we double the size of our ranking in 2012?

  • Our goal is to provide greater transparency. While the largest language service businesses are often the ones that make headlines, the reality is that there are not very many of them. The vast majority of LSPs, which we define as companies with two or more employees, earn less than US$1 million in annual revenue. So, the further we extend our list, the more accurately it reflects the true nature of the market we research every day.
  • Smaller firms and local market leaders can step into the spotlight. Fairness and impartiality are an extremely important component of our research methodology. So, highlighting the incredible diversity of language service providers that operate globally is critical. The ranking is used by both buyers and suppliers, and many freelancers rely on it to find new agency clients as well. Now that we have extended the global ranking to 100 firms, many businesses that are smaller in size – or that are located in countries that might not be on the radar of many organizations – can enjoy the increased visibility associated with our global ranking.
  • The more LSPs we survey, the more information we can share. We use the data we collect from this survey not just to produce the rankings and sizing estimates, but to supplement our research database. This allows us to cross-reference these findings with all other studies that we conduct over the course of the rest of the year. It enables us to more fully and completely answer questions as diverse as, “What is the average hourly rate for Korean DTP services?” to “How much should I pay a project manager based in Turkey?” and “How many salespeople should I have for each US$100,000 in revenue?” It also means that we can more fully support projects such as the report we recently prepared on behalf of Translators without Borders, “The Need for Translation in Africa.”

As a side note, each year we are asked why certain companies are not listed. As we explain in detail in our methodology FAQs, we are aware of many LSPs with revenue that would qualify them to be included, but our ranking, like the Inc. 500 and most other such rankings, is completely voluntary in nature. In other words, we don’t force companies, which are mostly privately held, to provide us with their financial details, and we do not publish them without their permission.

So, how big is the industry in 2012, and how fast is it growing?  The brief, available here for free download (no registration required), provides those details and more. This brief is an extract from a much larger study, “The Language Services Market: 2012,” our annual report on the state of the industry. For those who missed the chance to participate this year, please make sure to sign up to participate in future surveys.


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