3 Top Trends We Picked Up At XTM Live 2024
3 Top Trends We Picked Up At XTM Live 2024 illustration
Aleix Gwilliam
AuthorAleix Gwilliam
Reading time 2 minutes

Over the past twelve months, the localization industry has undergone significant transformations, shaped undoubtedly by the growing emergence and first cases of GenAI implementation, but also by the changing dynamics of global business, which have resulted in significant shifts in processes, strategies, and, perhaps most importantly, expectations.

Conferences like XTM Live are a fantastic opportunity for attendees to find out about the latest trends and best practices in the world of localization, not just learning from the experts on stage but also from their peers, who undoubtedly come across similar challenges despite being in completely different industries.

Here are the top three trends we picked up at XTM Live 2024 in New York (April 10-11), not just from the on-stage presentations but also overheard in the many conversations that took place during the networking breaks and sessions.

Fear of AI decreasing?

The breakout of generative AI (GenAI) in the past 18-24 months has revolutionized the localization industry. Renato Beninatto described the hype cycle we experienced from late 2022 until late 2023 or even earlier this year, questions began to arise about some of the consequences that implementing this technology would have. 

With the conference’s theme this year being ‘Revolutionizing Global Business: Finding the AI Sweet Spot’, many of the talks addressed these issues among others, and brought individual perspectives on what are industry-wide concerns. According to research from PwC, over 80% of executives believe AI is a top priority in their business strategy, but according to Beninatto, this isn’t as simple as plug-and-play. He described how each company’s organization, execution, and maturity can provide valuable insights into how localization can adapt and evolve to meet changing needs.

In the panel session ‘To Compromise or Not To Compromise | Can AI Equally Provide Quantity and Quality?’, industry experts Nicole Alves (Crown Equipment) and Kirill Soloviev (ContentQuo) discussed the changes that are affecting the whole industry, with a particular emphasis on the shifting priorities for companies. Soloviev also highlighted how we can “trust” AI to do the job but that verification should never be off the table, especially in the industries that publish particularly sensitive content, such as life science or finance.

In the past cost was the more limiting factor than time, but this is starting to change now with shorter time to market required. — Nicole Alves (Crown)

The new human role was also discussed in more depth by Antonio Tejada (LanguageLine Solutions) and Anthony Ash (Language Inspired). Tejada focused on how expectations, despite the breakout of GenAI, have not changed. Companies still want the same result – just faster and more efficiently, although quality is still key and something that can only be provided trustworthily by humans. Ash agreed on that and highlighted how quality is still a priority and therefore many conversations are happening between language and non-language professionals on finding the right balance between quality and time.

The conclusion that can be drawn from all of this is that AI is not expected to replace humans but rather help enhance productivity or efficiency, but language professionals across the business spectrum are most likely going to be required to be skilled in AI technology as companies look towards driving efficiency.

AI, yes, but responsibly

AI-generated concerns, as mentioned above, have been heard loudly in previous months, but these come in different shapes and forms. The concern for the future of humans in the language industry has been the loudest, but they haven’t stopped there. Would it be able to deliver on quality as well as quantity? What about data privacy? And intellectual property?

XTM CEO Ian Evans mentioned in his opening CEO Vision session that responsible AI should be a cross-industry priority. The focus should be on prioritizing data safeguard and protection in AI-generated content and ensuring that tech providers have an ethical framework and principles within which to operate, as well as including advanced security controls and total transparency that integrate compliance monitoring when it comes to security and GDPR.

Aleksandra Góra (Qualtrics), Bruno Herrmann (BH Global Advisory), and Sara Basile (XTM) addressed all these concerns in the panel discussion ‘Responsible AI: Concerns, Challenges, and Solutions’, and identified that not only these concerns were valid but a consequence of rushed strategic implementation plans.

Herrmann described that business decision-makers failed to ensure awareness and readiness for AI when deciding on its implementation, as well as a lack of clear business goals or understanding of the data challenges that come with it. Góra concurred and illustrated the point that many decision-makers who were pushing for AI have been met with resistance from their language teams because of these reasons, as they are requesting a better understanding of the capabilities and risks that it implies before full deployment.

And how are tech providers addressing these concerns? Basile explained that before launch, she recommends that this technology is experimented with in controlled environments and that it is provided with transparent documentation about its capabilities, so that companies can have the full picture of what this technology can and cannot do and then use this information to decide.

GenAI is here to stay, but don’t worry, other new shiny things are coming. Look for use cases by watching what others do [and don’t be afraid to] ask providers and researchers for help. — Carrie Fischer (Subway)

Carrie Fischer (Subway) recalled her AI journey and made an interesting point about understanding your level of maturity before implementing it. Based on CSA Research’s Maturity Model, she questioned whether AI implementation at any stage was a good idea, as it could have a negative or null impact on existing processes due to the lack of appropriate technology being used around it.

Time is (more than ever) of the essence

The emergence of tools that drive efficiency inevitably has the ripple effect of demand for shorter turnaround times – sometimes without fully understanding if the structure in place will allow this and, if not, what consequences it will have.

Many global companies have prioritized the creation of a “localization ecosystem” to drive efficiency in their processes – but this is not about using AI but rather having the right tools for the right job and, more importantly, having them all connected.Amber Bartholomeusz (MACH Alliance) presented the idea of composability and why this is the model that successful global companies were deploying with their technology stack. “Companies have to embrace new and future-proofed technologies just to stay in the middle of the pack” Bartholomeusz explained. “Making them independently deployable and scalable means that changes don’t cascade between services, so it’s easier for businesses to test and deploy. Microservices powered with APIs mean brands can remain vendor-agnostic and can build their technology with the products they choose.

Dynamic HTML previews have allowed us to save 87.5% of developers’ effort for pilot projects” Ying Zou (SAP)

The theory of creating the “perfect” ecosystem is of course alluring, but what are the concrete results of it? Alex Katsambas (FARFETCH) described how they were able to create such an ecosystem revolving around localization technology, which allowed them to meet the tight deadlines required to stay ahead in the online retail marketplace, including bringing their time-to-market below 48 hours despite localizing content for 3,000 different items per day, and keeping the CPI in check while also improving consistency and quality of content.

A new tool that is also creating a huge advantage in terms of time efficiency is dynamic HTML previews for linguists. The localization of software-related content requires a level of agility higher than most other industries, as the combination of continuous updates and a slick UI makes turnaround times shorter than usual. Ying Zou (SAP) highlighted how dynamic HTML previews have allowed them to slash delivery times thanks to reducing bottlenecks caused by unnecessary queries and communication between the development teams and the localization team, allowing for “significant time and cost savings for all roles.”.

All in all, XTM Live 2024 once again provided a reliable platform to learn about the latest trends in an industry that is changing at a rapid pace. While AI is the main focus of all attention, there are many other trends and topics that are equally as important, and it’s only by knowing about and understanding them that companies are able to stay ahead of their competitors. To learn about them with the stunning Manhattan skyline in the background was a fantastic bonus.

Last but not least, a big thank you to all the sponsors at XTM Live: LanguageLine Solutions, Language Inspired, Argos Multilingual, SYSTRAN by ChapsVision, Vistatec, and ContentQuo — it was our pleasure to have you participate in and sponsor our event

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