20 November 2013

A great divide emerging

It is becoming increasingly apparent to this observer of the language services industry (in Western Europe) that a great divide is emerging between language service providers (LSPs) that deal with, or hope to deal with, the departments that actually use their products and LSPs that have to deal with corporate purchasing department.

The former have at least the prospect of discussing quality issues, hence pricing, whereas the latter have no option but to compete on price and speed. And... for translators who are committed to the 'very end user' (i.e. the client's customers), the client and the job itself, the latter prospect -- save perhaps for the very fastest workers -- promises nothing but drudgery.

Many language industry observers have commented on how amazingly fragmented the sector is (language combinations, areas of specialisation, types of customer needs, types of target audience, document formats and so on), but I am not aware of many who have clearly identified this particular form of fragmentation.

Corporate purchasing departments are the option of choice for purchasing commodities. And certain types of language services are indeed very close to commodity status. Some examples among many, many other, include:
The great mistake many companies make is to assume that all language services are commodities and therefore should be purchased by the corporate purchasing department.

Comments welcome.

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