It’s been an incredible few days in Seattle. Our team has met with some of the top minds and voices in the industry to discuss what’s exciting and challenging about our future.
Something special kicked off this final day of LocWorld38: a keynote panel featuring the CEOs of leading translation and localization companies, including our own John Fennelly. Appropriately titled “Changing the Paradigm,” this panel largely echoed the sentiments expressed in yesterday’s opening keynote: change is constant across industries, and the language services industry is anything but immune to that reality.
These opening and closing addresses book-ended two days of insightful sessions and real-life stories from the professionals who grapple with this much-cited change day in and day out. We caught a glimpse of trends and opportunities as well as challenges and concerns over the past few days.
Each session we attended spoke to a unique sliver of the far-reaching language service industry. Across them all, and especially anchored by the opening and closing keynotes, we’re left with three key takeaways.
1. People aren’t going anywhere.
When asked to name his best investment, Lionbridge CEO John Fennelly didn’t hesitate. “Unequivocally, for us, it’s people,” he said. At Lionbridge, our people-first focus informs everything we do—whether that’s creating a positive environment for the most talented translators around who add a delicate, nuanced touch to 350+ languages, refining our corporate messaging so we speak with a friendlier voice, or going the extra mile to help a client who needs perfection fast. Much may change about our industry and our work in the coming years, but that focus won’t.
And that’s something we heard echoed in presentations and panels throughout the event. Without exception, the companies with which we’ve interacted cherish their people and value the uniquely human skills and subtleties that make the work we do an art as well as a science.
2. …But neither are machines.
A focus on people and an appreciation for machines are not mutually exclusive. Each CEO on this morning’s panel emphasized the need to embrace the technological advancements that are coming and that, indeed, are already here. John Fennelly posted that being technology-first is being customer-first, as innovative technology solutions can help solve customers’ problems. He continued to speak about the “unrelenting” pace of change in the industry, largely driven by technological strides that are changing the nature of localization work.
This theme reverberated across the event. Whether they’re deciding how to prepare their content for a world increasingly driven by voice search, pivoting to meet customers’ needs faster and better as the volume of micro-requests grows, or making strides to retain the best possible talent by investing in the best possible tools, companies in this space are aware of—and, indeed, excited by—the impact of machines.
3. Change is coming.
In a way, the title of the opening keynote—”Change is the Only Constant”—set the tone for the entire event. We know change is coming, and it’s both thrilling and nerve-wracking.
As John Fennelly said this morning, “the pace of change is unrelenting. This is an industry that needs to adapt much more quickly to where we are going.”
While we might not yet know where, exactly, we are going, and where we will land in five years or 10 or 20, we do know that the successful companies will be those that embrace, rather than resist, change.
“You have to continue to evolve,” said Fennelly. “You have to continue to go after new opportunities. The clients we serve are the most innovative companies in the world, and they expect their service providers to move at the same pace.”
Above all, that idea—of evolving to tackle new opportunities and meet clients innovation for innovation—is key.
To everyone we met at LocWorld and to the event sponsors: thank you for another fantastic event. We look forward to the next one.