5 Localization Predictions for 2019

When it comes to localization, 2019 is looking like it’s going to be an exciting year.

When you combine rapid technological developments in the translation industry with an increasingly global economy, what you get is the perfect conditions for major developments in localization.

Here are some localization trends to watch out for in 2019:

Heightened demand for mobile app localization

Until now, we’ve mainly been seeing localization in the field of website content and UX. But with mobile app usage growing 6% year over year, brands that are looking to develop their global presence are seeing an increasing need to localize their mobile app user experience. Otherwise, their mobile products may not be understandable and accessible enough to the emerging market.

According to the AppAnnie 2019 State of Mobile Report, of the top 5 countries in terms of mobile app spend, three are not English-speaking countries.

Top Countries by App Store Consumer SpendIt then becomes clear that for companies looking to grow their mobile mind-share, vast opportunities lie in localizing their mobile apps for different regions.

VR and AR are taking a foothold and should not be dismissed

Augmented reality (AR), while enjoying a significant amount of buzz, had failed to go mainstream as the epic Google Glass disaster in 2013 demonstrated.

However, AR was redeemed with the advent of interactive entertainment initiatives that harnessed the power of AR, such as the PokemonGO game and Snapchat selfie lens. Simultaneously, VR has been gaining popularity in the gaming community with VR headsets becoming a popular console for immersive games.

For localization, this provides both immense opportunities, as well as a massive challenge.

With the ability to immerse yourself fully in a digital environment, the opportunities for localization range from comparatively simple tasks such as language, all the way to the visual appearance of the environment, body language, and interactions.

Julian Mower, a localization specialist for games, commented:

 “For me, the most exciting and most promising thing about VR is being able to communicate body language. The interesting thing for localization is how to translate those body gestures and what they mean in different cultures.”

This opens up an entirely new subsection of localization and requires a completely new skill set that will likely be new to existing localization agencies.

But VR and AR are not limited to gaming – recent steps in the progress of user’s interaction with global online content was presented by Apple’s ARkit, which includes IKEA Place, American Airlines digital Wayfinding experience and others.

VR and AR are here to stay.

The more localized the content, the more personalized it gets

The benefits of personalization to online sales are endless. Hubspot found that personalized Calls to Action (CTAs) resulted in 202% increased conversions, One Spot found that personalization in emails lead to a 17% increase in purchases, and individuals, in general, are more likely to prefer personalized content to generic content.

With so many business incentives to personalize buyer interaction with the brand, not following through is a clear loss of possible income.

One way to improve personalization is to implement localization.

By injecting content with local relevancy, your content is more likely to entice the consumer. Combine that with the power of AI to deliver locally relevant content, and you’ve got a hungry audience eagerly awaiting your next suggestion. Netflix is a great example. The company uses AI to promote local content – a tactic that saved them $1 billion through retaining international viewers in 2015.

To expand to international audiences, localization is required to be both culturally accepted and therefore relevant. For example, that would mean switching out beers for soft drinks in countries that don’t support alcohol consumption, and shots that include a glimpse of a computer screen or newspaper would have the content translated.

AI and Machine Translation will become inseparable companions to translation

AI and machine translation (MT) are tools that are used to speed up the process of translation using a database of dictionaries and sentence structure to translate written content not word-for-word, but rather based on the meaning.

Machine translation is the term used specifically for automated translating, while AI is a more broad technology that can be applied to endless use cases. But in the case of translation, AI is able to learn from repeated exposure to sentences and expressions to improve on its understanding of necessary translations.

Though AI has been around for decades, it’s only now enjoying rapid development thanks to evolving technology and increase computational power on the cloud. In 2019, this will reach new capabilities in the translation and localization industries. An interesting recent development is the application of neural networks in machine translation – by applying technology inspired by the human brain, translation algorithms are able to learn translations without a reference dictionary, creating faster and more accurate translations than ever.

Expect an increase in localization efforts towards the Asian market

With 60% of the world population concentrated in Asia, it can be expected that brands with worldwide ambitions will increasingly set their sights on this attractive, populated market.

With an increased demand for entry to the Asian market, localization will become a key cornerstone for successfully gaining the trust and market share in this region.

Language is an evident barrier that will have to be taken into consideration, but so will the many nuances, social norms, and rich traditions of these cultures. In fact, the Asian market is often referred to as the most challenging market for localization.

Though the potential for growth for companies looking to enter this emerging economy, it will not be cheap. In a study by Ernst & Young, Andrew Cosgrove, Global Consumer Products Lead Analyst, stated:

“Profitable growth does not mean cutting costs. Global CP companies need to adopt a selectively localized portfolio approach across all the elements of the supply chain from conception to consumption. Whilst this approach incurs higher costs in terms of time and resources, versus a universal approach, it is a price that companies must be prepared to pay in order to capture profitable growth.”

This means that for localization companies, it will also be worth investing into the skills and talent necessary to accommodate for qualitative and immersive localization in the Asian market.

Localization: a mandatory tool for global businesses in 2019

Through observing the trends in localization, it becomes clear that localization itself is growing in demand. To facilitate the expansion of major brands as they pursue their global conquest, localization tools will be crucial to their success. Brought on by increasing technological capabilities, increased accessibility to far-away markets, and the developing global economies, localization is set to see its biggest year yet.

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