E.g., 09/29/2020
E.g., 09/29/2020

Size Matters! Exploring the BIG Questions on Change, Innovation, and Success from a Small LSP’s Point of View

By: GALA Team, Information - BeatBabel

22 November 2017

In a lively, amusing, and provocative discussion, BeatBabel’s Burckhardt Rueffer and Miguel Sevener explore the ecosystem inhabited by small Language Service Providers in the internet era.

Imagine, if you will, an aquatic landscape teeming with sea life, with creatures of every size, from tiny fishes to enormous whales. Maybe even a shark or two. This ecosystem is not unlike the professional environment in which Language Service Providers operate.

First, consider the whales. Their main problem is parasites, not predators, so their essential service providers are little “cleaner fish” – fish that eat up the bothersome parasites, so the whales can cruise though the waves unimpeded. If you think of translation as a service, the analogy to the LSP profession becomes clear. Small, agile LSPs provide ongoing, targeted support to their clients, much the same way a cleaner fish tends to a whale.

This lush ecosystem began to change with the birth of the World Wide Web. As inexorable and ubiquitous as Jet streams, the WWW fundamentally altered the requirements for survival in the LSP ecosystem.  Along with larger volumes of whale-pestering parasites, the WWW introduced new technology to the LSP ecosystem.  Every fish, of every size and function, had to adapt to contend with the larger volume of work and the new means of doing that work. Some developed new technology to become more efficient, others formed associations to provide single-source solutions; i.e. a complete set of services at low prices. In the new era of language service colossi what options do smaller fish have to survive?

Options might include:
·         Working for “the man;” be a supplier to the big client
·         Doing things that the sharks or large associations cannot do
·         Find your niche – are you a pilot fish?
·         Be water!
·         Go rogue – evolve!

Listen in as Rueffer and Sevener use their wide-ranging experience in the industry to present an engaging and thought-provoking discussion of what was, what is, and what comes next for the little fish in the Language Service Provider industry.


The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) is a non-profit tade association supporting the language industry. As a membership organization, we support our member companies and the language sector by creating communities, championing standards, sharing knowledge, and advancing technology.