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The Future of Language Service Providers

October 16th, 2019 by

It is no secret that political and technological developments have a profound impact on the language industry. Particularly, language service providers (LSPs) are finding themselves having to constantly react and adapt to disrupting political and technological changes. It is key to proactively change the way your business operates in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Changing Political Landscape

We recently saw AB5 being passed in California, which will reclassify all interpreters as employees and no longer as independent contractors, starting January 1st 2020. This means LSPs would have to put their interpreters on the company payroll and offer them work benefits, rather than hiring them as independent contractors. This is obviously a major game changer for LSPs in California. Since they can’t put every interpreter on their payroll, they will have to make some tough decisions concerning the range of language services they will be able to offer. Perhaps the solution would be to focus only on a few niche services? In any event, if interpreters are not exempt from the bill, LSPs (and interpreters) in California have some tough times ahead of them.

In the state of Washington, there’s another political development potentially threatening the future of LSPs. The Department of Enterprise and Labor & Industries are looking to eliminate the role of LSPs altogether, by inviting independent scheduling organizations to replace the role of the language service provider. This initiative is being driven by the desire to increase the rates paid directly to interpreters, and to reduce the profits of LSPs. On the one hand, institutionalizing interpreting services could bode well for interpreters. Their rates might actually increase, and if Washington decides to follow California’s lead by reclassifying interpreters as employees, then interpreters would not be as affected since they would essentially be government employees. 

However, institutionalizing interpreting services could also be dangerous. If Washington decides to move away from a free market system by getting rid of LSPs, then the quality of interpreting services could suffer. LSPs may chip away at interpreter rates, but they are experienced with interpreter management and quality assurance. Would the Department of Enterprise and Labor & Industries be equipped to manage that many interpreters? It seems doubtful. Whatever happens, LSPs should prepare themselves should the state of Washington actually decide to move forward with the institutionalization of interpreting services.

Technological Innovation

Simultaneously, technological advancements are making their mark on the language industry as well. Specifically, remote interpreting solutions are changing the way LSPs offer their interpreting services. Remote interpreting is effectively decreasing the need for face-to-face interpreting. More and more often, interpreters offer their services over the phone or over video. It saves them time, energy, and money. Through remote interpreting, LSPs can handle a larger volume of assignments, and they can offer a larger variety of services by contracting niche interpreters from all over the world. In order to accommodate this evolution, LSPs often resort to interpreter platforms like Interpreter Intelligence in order to fill this technological gap.

Remote interpreting solutions have also removed barriers for (smaller) organizations to offer their services all over the globe, because they are no longer restricted to their local markets. This increasing global access to interpreters is good since organizations and governments can now boast a more inclusive language policy. However, the rise in remote interpreting can also be a problem to individual LSPs. With increased access comes increased competition, and with increased competition often comes decreased profits. For some LSPs, it is becoming a real challenge to compete with LSPs from low-wage countries. As the supply of language services becomes increasingly saturated, LSPs will have to find new ways to remain profitable. Again, focusing on niche services could be the answer, but niche industries have limited growth opportunity.

To sum up, the language industry is on the brink of a major revolution, so it might be time for your business to do some scenario planning. It is time to assess to what extent the developments above would affect your business, to ask yourself what you can do now to stay ahead of the curve, and to think about how you can retool your business to remain competitive. What do you think will impact the language industry most in the coming years? Let us know!

How Global Interpreter Platforms Are Changing The Language Industry

September 30th, 2019 by

Global interpreter platforms are slowly but surely changing the language industry. The language industry has long been immune to technological advancements, but that has now changed. Remote interpreting technology has changed the way interpreters and language service providers work. Phone and video interpreting have been a gimmick in the language industry for a long time. However, with the rise of global interpreter platforms, which offer booking, scheduling and management services for language service providers, remote interpreting is now easier than ever.

Many interpreter platforms now support video and phone remote interpreting. On the one hand, technological advancements have made it easier to integrate those remote interpreting features. On the other hand, remote interpreting is a natural consequence of the changing business landscape in today’s global world. Companies are becoming increasingly international. In order to be able to offer language services in every corner of the world, remote interpreting is the only effective solution. Also, remote interpreting is cost-effective because interpreters don’t have to travel to the physical location of the assignment and because the need for equipment is reduced to a minimum. 

According to the 2019 Nimdzi Interpreting Index, 7 of the top 10 interpreting providers exclusively offer remote interpreting services. 2 offer both remote and on-site interpreting, and only one exclusively offers on-site interpreting. Just to give you an idea which direction the industry is heading towards. To state that global interpreter platforms have revolutionized the language industry would be an exaggeration. Large language service providers win big contracts because of their reach, not necessarily because of their innovative technology. However, interpreter platforms are a great way for smaller language service providers to extend their global reach.

The technology within interpreter platforms can be extremely valuable for expansion and reducing costs, which allows smaller language providers to compete with the big guys. Aside from smaller language service providers, other frequent users of interpreter platforms can be found in the public sector. The public sector is all about cutting costs, and that is where global interpreter platforms come in. Immigration offices, justice departments and healthcare institutions require the services of interpreters all the time. By using interpreter platforms, these institutions can hire highly specific and qualified interpreters quickly, and cheaply.

The top language service providers account for approximately a third of the language industry revenue. (total market size is USD 7.6 billion according to Nimdzi) However, through the new technology included in most interpreter platforms, smaller providers are able to be more competitive, public service institutions can offer better and more inclusive services. In other words, even though change might be slow, global interpreter platforms are changing the language industry for the better, and it will be exciting to see the evolution of the growing language industry in the next few years.

If you are a (small) language service provider and if you want to be more competitive on a global scale, then check out our product features or contact us to find out how we can help.

The Constant Innovation in Interpreting Technology

September 19th, 2019 by

Compared to other industries, technology has made a modest impact on interpreting. There have been incremental improvements over the last decades, but claiming that technology has transformed the profession would be an exaggeration. That being said, the latest technological wave washing over the industry does seem like it’s going to leave an irreversible mark on the lives of many interpreters.

Before we get into the latest technological trends, let’s first explore at what point technology first started changing interpreting. The first technological breakthrough was the introduction of wired systems for speech transmission, which led to the rise of simultaneous interpreting. This technology, designed by IBM, acquired broader visibility during the Nuremberg trials after WWII, and was later adopted by all international organizations.

The second breakthrough was obvious: the internet. The internet primarily changed the way interpreters acquired information. As preparation is a fundamental part of interpreting, the internet helps interpreters effectively find translations for specialized terms, and find more background information on specific subject matters. Now, of course, the internet also allows the interpreter and the customer to get directly in touch. 

Aside from obvious technological advances such as wired speech transmission and the internet, there are also many tools that have been specifically built for interpreters. CAT (Computer Aided Interpreting) tools, often terminology tools such as InterpretBank help interpreters organize their glossaries and now these terminology tools often have voice recognition so it can suggest translations in real time. Many of these tools have also integrated Google AI in an attempt to improve live translation suggestions.

The technology supporting remote interpreting has made great strides as well. Not only have video messaging applications gotten a lot better, but many interpreter management platforms such as Interpreter Intelligence now support VRI (Video Remote Interpreting) within their platforms as well. It is fair to say that all these technological advancements have made the access to interpreters much easier, which means the access to interpreters that speak rare languages has gotten easier as well. As a result, public organizations can, through this latest technological wave, boast a much more inclusive language policy, only if politics do not interfere of course.

What do you think the next big thing in interpreting will be? Feel free to let us know!

Interpreter Intelligence at SlatorCon

September 14th, 2019 by

On September 12th, it was time for another edition of SlatorCon, this time in our very own San Francisco. Over 120 language industry experts gathered to discuss the state of our growing and vibrant industry. Among those industry experts, our CEO, Conor Power, and our head of sales, Gerry Kelly.

Business is becoming increasingly global, something which is clearly reflected in the amount of different stakeholders that contribute to our vibrant industry. Healthcare, corporate localization, mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, private equity funding,… All these different industries require linguistic support. 

It should come as no surprise that the language industry is one of few industries expected to grow exponentially over the next decade. Needless to say, vibes were good at SlatorCon San Francisco as it’s a great time to be in the language industry.

However, as technology evolves, our industry needs to evolve as well. Speakers underlined the need for systematic data collection, especially in localization, and they talked about integrating (neural) machine translation into the supply chain.

In other words, business is booming, but business doesn’t stop evolving. As always, our men in the field left with some interesting takeaways. Below, you’ll find some pictures we took at the conference. See you next time!


Interpreter Intelligence at SlatorCon

¡Interpreter Intelligence Habla Español!

September 10th, 2019 by

¿Sorprendido? No deberías estarlo. En Interpreter Intelligence, nos enorgullecemos de poder entender a nuestros clientes de la mejor manera posible. Es por eso que recientemente contratamos un intérprete multilingüe para ayudarnos a optimizar nuestro producto, un producto con el proveedor de servicios de idiomas y el intérprete en mente.

¿Si estamos escribiendo esta publicación de blog solo para presumir de nuestra diversidad lingüística recién adquirida? Quizás un poco, pero esa no es la razón principal. Nos esforzamos por mejorar continuamente y no tenemos la intención de conformarnos. Constantemente buscamos los comentarios de nuestros clientes, ya sean proveedores de servicios de idiomas o intérpretes, para poder continuar mejorando nuestros productos.

Nuestro nuevo empleado habla cuatro idiomas, pero el español es el idioma que menos conoce (así que no lo juzgues por favor). De todos modos, conoce la industria de la interpretación por dentro y por fuera y porque tiene una maestría en interpretación, tiene una extensa red de intérpretes con la que puede contar para generar nuevas ideas de productos. 

A través de esta constante ida y vuelta, somos conscientes de las mejores prácticas en diferentes mercados de interpretación alrededor del mundo. De esta manera, podamos ajustar y mejorar las características de nuestros productos. Hemos podido desarrollar un producto altamente personalizable y completo, diseñado para satisfacer las necesidades de los proveedores de servicios de idiomas e intérpretes en todas partes del mundo.

¿Hablas español? ¿O conoces alguna práctica de interpretación que es diferente en otro mercado? ¡Por favor déjanos saber! Os dejo la traducción al inglés a continuación para los que son menos dotados lingüísticamente.


Surprised? You shouldn’t be. At Interpreter Intelligence, we pride ourselves in being able to understand our customers as best we can. That is why we recently hired a multilingual interpreter to help us optimize our product, a product with the language service provider and the interpreter in mind.

Are we writing this blog post purely to boast our newly acquired linguistic diversity? Maybe a little bit, but that is not the main reason. We strive to improve continuously and we do not intend to settle. We constantly seek our customers’ feedback, whether they are a language service provider or an interpreter, so we can continue improving our products.

Our new hire speaks four languages, Spanish actually being the language he is least proficient in. Regardless, he knows the interpreting industry inside and out and having a degree in interpreting, he has an extensive interpreter network he can count on to bounce new product ideas off of. 

Through this constant back-and-forth, we are aware of best practices in different interpreting markets around the world so we can adjust and improve our product features accordingly. Through this process, we have been able to develop a highly customizable and comprehensive product, designed to fit the needs of LSPs and interpreters all around the world.

Do you speak Spanish? Or do you know of any different interpreting practices around the world? Please let us know!

The 5 Biggest Interpreting Mistakes in History

August 28th, 2019 by

Interpreting is not easy. Interpreters are expected to be able to work across a variety of subject matters, often under enormous pressure. So it should come as no surprise that interpreters, like everyone, often make mistakes. However, some mistakes are bigger than others. Here is an overview of the biggest interpreting mistakes in history.

1. Horny Moses
When translating the Old Testament, St. Jerome translated the Hebrew word for “radiance” as “horned”. Poor Moses was depicted with horns for hundreds of years and an offensive Jewish stereotype was born.

2. Explosive Remarks
In July 1945, shortly after the US demanded the surrender of Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki called a press conference. To one question, Suzuki responded: “No comment. We are still thinking about it.” Unfortunately, the interpreter’s version was “We are ignoring it in contempt”. A few days later, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

3. Jimmy Loves Poland
In 1976, US president Jimmy Carter, while addressing a Polish audience, asked them about their hopes and dreams for the future. His interpreter translated this as Carter ‘desiring the Polish carnally’. Talk about taking diplomacy one step too far.

4. Heating Up the Cold War
At the Polish embassy addressing several Western officials, one interpreter translated Nikita Khrushchev’s “We will outlast you” as “We will bury you”. At the highest point of the Cold War and with the US population terrified of a Soviet atomic bomb, nuance definitely matters.

5. Mahmoud Ahmadinewhat?
When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave his speech in 2006, he said that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”, in an attempt to appease tensions in the Middle East. However, the interpreter translated his words as “I wish Israel be wiped off the map.” 

We hope you have not made interpreting mistakes as big as these, but feel free to share any mistakes you have made yourself. After all, to err is human!