India and the global language services market
Common Sense Advisory’s research on the Indian language services market from a couple of years ago showed that though translation was a nascent industry in the country, much of the market was still immature. Our subsequent research and interactions with industry leaders and buy-side clients has made us believe that while the market promises huge potential, Indian language service providers still face major challenges.
First, the good news: The potential for India’s language services market goes beyond its obvious multilingualism. As with IT companies, language service providers (LSPs) in India have grown to the point that they can today position themselves as capable localization partners. They are also attractive to multi-language vendors in Europe and North America looking to outsource some business either to cut costs or extend coverage.
However, the challenges mostly spring from the immaturity of Indian buyers, although there are other hurdles related to macroeconomic factors such as a plunging rupee and a slowing economy. LSPs constantly ask Common Sense Advisory for advice on how they can surmount these challenges and play at the global level. They talk of buyers trying to “procure” language services as they would purchase a commodity like office supplies. Indian LSPs say they struggle to make clients aware of the value of translation. In India, the challenge gets compounded because of the expectations of “low cost” and the current inflation rates and weak rupee.
Though the challenges rooted in the local scenario may change somewhat, our research and consulting practice keep showing us some patterns common to LSPs around the globe. Hence, our advice to them has constantly been to not fall in the age-old traps of promising the best quality at the lowest price, but to differentiate themselves in a way that makes the most sense to their business. How exactly can they do this? Well, that’s what we will talk about in the closing address at think! India.
Are you going to be there? ****
Vijayalaxmi focuses on planning and managing research team activities, scalability and quality initiatives, knowledge transfer, and external vendor management. Her research areas include e-learning and mobile app localization, emerging markets, and the role of plain language in the content supply chain. She also leads the company’s annual global market sizing project that produces “The Language Services Market” report. Prior to joining Common Sense Advisory, Vijayalaxmi worked as a journalist and wrote for several international publications. She has post-graduate diplomas in print journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media and in environmental law from the National Law School of India University.