The Rise of the Translation Industry in the Asia-Pacific Region


The global translation industry is continuing its growth in the new year, with an expected market value of $56 billion by the end of 2020.


The Asia-Pacific region is one of the fastest-growing language service provider (LSP) markets, primarily in China and Japan. Together the countries currently dominate the Asia-Pacific market, with nearly 20 LSPs ranked among the top 30 providers in the region. Due to the growth of the Honyaku Center and Pactera Technologies, Japan and China cracked the top 10 for all global LSPs at the start of 2020. To keep up with the growth of the market in Japan, memoQ decided to deploy a second server in the country in 2019.


Here's a look at the trends driving industry growth in the Asia-Pacific region this year.

Watch for Growth in Strategic Partnerships

The global success of China's top LSP, Pactera Technologies, is poised to make China a major player in the 2020 language services market. The company has already received Microsoft's award for top China System Integrator, making Pactera one of Microsoft's leading partners in the worldwide LSP market.


The Pactera Cloud Partner Alliance with Microsoft signals an exciting trend in the Asia-Pacific LSP industry. Look for more strategic alliances between the tech sector and LSPs, especially with cloud computing platforms and machine learning developers. These partnerships may become more crucial in 2020 as trade policies and economies fluctuate in China and Japan, which has already impacted top LSPs in the market.

The Strategic Infusion of Cloud Solutions and Machine Learning

The success of the Pactera-Microsoft Cloud Partner Alliance signals the continued adoption of machine learning and cloud computing by LSPs. This alliance, in particular, is setting the trend for improved LSP customer experiences using cloud-based solutions.


The Pactera-Microsoft partnership also follows the growing trend of Chief Experience Office (CXO) awareness within the Asia-Pacific LSP market. Its Microsoft award emphasized Pactera's success in using the cloud to facilitate excellent customer experiences. Watch for more LSPs to add CXOs to their teams to drive client relationships, as customer experience becomes a high priority.


Better customer experiences aren't the only reason why the Asia-Pacific market continues to embrace the latest technological advancements. Pactera has signaled another important trend in the LSP industry — the infusion of machine learning for quality control.


Quality assurance is one of the biggest concerns in the Asia-Pacific LSP industry. By infusing powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tools into its platform, Pactera hopes to tackle the challenges of executing large-scale translation projects with utmost precision and speed.


The AI trend in the global LSP industry dispels the myth that translators will be replaced by machines. It's just the opposite. Top LSPs hope to leverage the latest AI technologies to better equip translators across the Asia-Pacific region.

Expect More Government Investment in the LSP Industry

It's not just the Asia-Pacific translation industry that's catching onto the latest 2020 trends. Both China’s and Japan's governments are taking notice, so much so, in fact, that both governments are planning to invest heavily in language service providers and tools for translators.


Japan's government is investing $19 million in technology to improve the quality of simultaneous interpretation, a translation task with a high level of difficulty. The investment will fund AI-based software that will help with simultaneous interpretation in 15 different languages across the Asia-Pacific region.


Japan's investment comes on the heels of China's recent investment in the language services industry under the country's One Belt One Road (OBOR) program. Since translation is so fundamental to the initiative, OBOR is attracting more international LSPs to China's market.


You can expect to see Japan’s and China's influence in the LSP translation industry grow as providers look outside the market for more international translation opportunities. As competition heats up between the Asia-Pacific sector and the rest of the global translation industry, watch for developments of AI-powered tools and cloud solutions to help translators improve accuracy and turn-around times.

The Demand for Medical Translators will Skyrocket

2020 is shaping up to be the year of medical translation in the LSP industry. The demand for multilingual medical and pharmaceutical translations is a key factor driving LSP market growth in the Asia-Pacific region.


Expect growing demand for medical translations from China and Japan as the global healthcare market grows to a projected $11.9 trillion. The Asia-Pacific region has the second-largest healthcare industry, with Japan's pharma industry valued at $80 billion and China's at over $1 trillion.


Despite economic fluctuations throughout the region, both Japan and China's healthcare industries are projected to grow. Japan is up 1.3% from previous years, and China's healthcare industry is growing at an impressive 12%, despite recent economic uncertainty in the country. This is great news for the Asia-Pacific translation sector in 2020.

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Education Sectors will Have a Significant Impact on the Asia-Pacific Market

There are two major education trends to watch in 2020. The first is the rise of language studies in the Asia-Pacific region. This increase comes as an investment in language studies declines in other regions.


Three hundred universities in China now offer translation courses and Master of Translation and Interpreting (MTI) programs. These programs are becoming more focused and specialized, in contrast to North American and European translation programs, which are relatively self-contained in nature. Look for more university departments, like math and engineering, to offer specialized MTI programs for those industries. This trend is expected to grow China's translation workforce and its positioning in the global translation market.


The other major education trend impacting the Asia-Pacific translation industry is the growth of video-based educational content. As global education institutions switch to video content, there will be an even greater need for audiovisual translation expertise in the Asia-Pacific sector.


Expect this trend to increase the demand for improved localization for global students, as localization is essential for creating immersive learning environments online.

Keep Up with the Latest Translation Trends for 2020

It's only the beginning of the year, and Asia's translation industry is responding quickly to anticipated trends in domestic and international markets. Watch these latest 2020 trends closely for any significant changes, partnerships, and innovations in the Asia-Pacific region.