Global Companies Turn to LSP Rapid Response Teams to Cope with COVID-19
Following online group meetings with Leadership Councils and CEOs representing LSPs of various sizes, CSA Research has been speaking with directors of enterprise localization groups over the last few days to hear their perspective on the impact of COVID-19. They identified two changes in their business requirements – their internal and outward-facing content is evolving to become remote-friendly, and they would like their language service partners to respond to quick-turnaround requests without the red tape. They also shared what they expect to be the impact on localization teams in the short to medium term, along with a few trends that they expect to last into the future after the pandemic passes.
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- Rapid response team, please. As more of their turnaround times fall below 24 hours – especially for COVID-19 related information – firms are sharing information about shifts in workflow, as well as developing contingency plans, with their providers. When we asked how language services partners could best support them during this initial period, their response was unanimous that they would welcome a person or group of people to handle their quick turnaround pieces for COVID-19 without requiring extra calls or emails to set things up.
- Volumes are not decreasing yet, but what’s in the content is evolving quickly. So far, enterprises report that they haven’t put many projects on hold or decreased translation volumes drastically. Neither are they increasing language coverage. A few companies mentioned diverting some language work and tasks, such as DTP, to internal teams. Most are pivoting away from marketing campaigns and product launches to COVID-19 topics, logistics for switching physical events to virtual, along with anything else that will help them stay in closer contact with their prospects, customers, and employees – all needed yesterday. Content is being reworked to be remote-friendly and adapted to meet geopolitical requirements. Why? Because crisis-related messages aren’t necessarily the same worldwide; for example, the Japanese government prefers messaging not to be as alarmist as it is in several other countries.
- Many offices remain closed in China. Some companies now run two shifts to allow employees more physical space, while others are starting to allow staff to return at their own discretion. However, many offices are still closed, regardless of what is being reported in the news.
- Communication from upper management is frequent and candid. Albeit “unshaven, wearing coffee-stained T-shirts, and with dogs barking and children running around in the background,” as one participant described her CEO staff, everyone said that their firms were communicating often and candidly about the challenges they currently face. Executives are asking their leadership teams – if and when the dust starts to settle a bit – to start thinking about how to prepare for exiting the crisis. For example, analyzing the big trends for their vertical that they think may last, and determining what it will take to support customers, whether for ramp-up or recession. They expect to eventually be instructed to focus on delivering whatever will have the biggest impact for the highest number of people.
- They ponder what to expect within a few months for language budgets. As some organizations scramble to meet incoming demand and to scale up infrastructure (healthcare facilities, laptop manufacturers, videoconferencing tools), others are pulling back and hunkering down for the short term (physical venues, luxury goods). However, all are bracing for a marked slowdown within a month or so if the crisis lingers on. Belt-tightening and budget cutting will be generalized and across the board. They expect translation costs not to be targeted per se; however, they will definitely feel the impact.
- Hiring may be on hold for the foreseeable future. It’s no surprise given the circumstances, but hiring may remain on hold post-pandemic as it did after the crash of 2008. Why? Executives postulate that teams have managed larger workloads with little problem, so adding more full-time resources doesn’t surface as a pressing issue. The move to backfill will be slow as operating expenses are kept to a minimum.
- Virtual events are set to become even more popular. As more of us adjust to working and delivering virtually, it becomes more obvious that physical get-togethers aren’t as necessary as they appeared in the past. Expect more conferences to remain online after the pandemic is over.
- Working from home will remain a viable and preferred option long after COVID-19 fades from view. Companies with non-existent or low numbers of work-from-home staff have ramped up in less than a week to set up hundreds or even thousands of such installations. No longer can their IT and security staff claim that remote work or cloud-based solutions are not viable options – they won’t be able to “put the cow back in the barn” after the crisis dissipates.
To be continued. In the meantime, all of us here at CSA Research hope that you and your family, friends, and colleagues remain untouched by the virus.
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