KantanAI Blog

A.I. must not only support your business. It must advance it.

Together, let’s make your products smarter. Your customer experiences more exceptional. Your people more productive. Your processes more profitable. And your systems more powerful.

LSP working smarter for better productivity.

MT Technology Trends 2024: MT State of the Art and 5 Predictions for the Year

Work team improving communication effectiveness

MT State of the Art


The translation industry has undergone a remarkable evolution fuelled by technological innovations. For instance, nowadays, it is almost impossible to have a translation project without a translation memory (TM) or run translation projects without a Content Management System (CMS). Now, Machine Translation (MT), which has been met with skepticism regarding accuracy and contextual nuances since its early stages, is experiencing a surge in adoption driven by enhanced quality and efficiency. In 2022, for instance, the Machine Translation market witnessed substantial growth, reaching a value of USD 982.2 million and the advancements in Neural Machine Translation (NMT) models and Large Language Models (LLMs) are reshaping the language services industry.

Providers of translation software are now integrating features powered by LLMs, such as Adaptive Generative Translation (AGT), to elevate translation quality and efficiency, marking a shift towards more personalized and effective translations through AI-driven technologies. However, is it the market that has changed because of technology? Or has technology adapted to the rapid changes and explosion of content post-COVID? MT
is set for advancements in accuracy, inclusivity, and seamless integration into daily routines for a future where language barriers are effectively bridged, facilitating smooth communication across diverse contexts. Looking towards 2024, we can see that MT keeps gaining force in the translation and localization industry. These are some of the trends to look out for during the rest of the year: 

  1. Technological Advancements in Translation
  2. Specialized Translation Services and Localization Demand
  3. Growth in Video Translation Services
  4. Focus on Quality Assurance
  5. The Language Specialist Behind the Machine

2024 Trends


1. Technological Advancements in Translation


The Global Market Insights reports attribute MT market growth to the impact of COVID-19 on technologies for remote global communication, and the rapid growth of e-commerce businesses, among other factors. They estimate a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) growth of the industry at 22.8% (7.5 billion) by 2032. Unbabel, on the other hand, highlights in its Global Trends in Marketing Localization 2023 report the growth of MT in marketing, one of the areas with the highest reluctance to MT use, with a 39% MT adoption rate as part of localization strategies by companies. AI, specifically LLMs, continues to revolutionize the translation industry, and developments in MT with LLMs will focus more on integrating them into translation pipelines while working on enhancing speed, accuracy, and linguistic nuances.

Arle Lommel, for instance, states in a CSA blog post in May 2023 that the integration of GenAI systems (like ChatGPT) into TMs and CAT was still not apt for translation workflows. This is because most CAT tools work segment by segment whereas GenAI systems process more contextual information and handle “noise” very well. However, more than a year later, just as he warned, the landscape looks much different: Providers of translation software are now embracing features driven by LLMs to enhance the quality and effectiveness of translations. For instance, platforms like memoQ are integrating Adaptive Generative Translation (AGT) based on Microsoft Azure OpenAI to generate context-specific translations, thereby reducing errors in the translation workflow.

Likewise, improvements in NMT will most likely show more accuracy and contextual cues to gain more natural human language. In the same CSA post, it is also mentioned how MT providers increasing the “attention windows” in NMT systems will allow systems to translate contextual information better. This, besides the deep domain customization of engines, will make NMT gain more trust in the market and expand to other industries. The continuous development of AI-driven technology marks a shift towards more personalized and precise translations. We see one of Lommel’s predictions coming true, since now MT providers are customizing engines “on top of optimized GenAI applications,” which is the case of RWS with their Language Weaver platform.

2. Specialized Translation Services and Localization Demand


In its 2023 survey, Unbabel, finds that the industries leading the use of MT are Manufacturing (49%), Software/Technology/Electronics (47%), Logistics/Distribution (43%), and Engineering (43%). These industries have “traditionally” relied more on MT due to the relative ease and cost of customization, high scores of MT outputs, and turnarounds. However, the surge in demand across diverse sectors, notably in technology for software localization, user assistance material, and global product launches, draws attention to the need for customized MT services to facilitate faster turnarounds and higher numbers of processed information (source: https://www.tomedes.com/translator-hub/translation-industry-trends)

Nowadays, most of the strategies for commercial growth in industries, derive from localization and hyperlocalization strategies, making it crucial to customize content to target specific locales. Industries such as legal and finance are increasing their MT use to translate documents, reports, and regulatory documents to meet international standards. In the same way, the education and entertainment sectors are seeing the need for MT to translate guides, courses, and other educational material to reach broader audiences. MT has also turned out to be an ally in reaching more audiences in record time to keep up with the high levels of production of content, especially in social media, marketing, and customer service. The growth in multilingual customer support, for instance, has been one of the driving forces behind the growth in MT use since customers demand real-time language solutions.

However, prioritizing faster turnarounds over maintaining high accuracy and providing language-appropriate solutions could lead to additional PE and QA costs for Language Service Providers (LSPs) and potentially losing customer trust. For MT to serve these growing demands, providers will continue working not only on customizing systems for domain-specific content but also on tone, style, and target audiences. As we saw in the previous trend, the use of MT is set to increase and expand to other industries notably less trusting of MT outputs; as long as MT providers tackle the shortcomings in terms of accuracy, context, and cultural nuances.

3. Growth in Video Translation Services


It is no secret that platforms such as TikTok have revolutionized the consumption of video content and, in doing so, have highlighted the need for solutions for video translation and localization to effectively reach diverse audiences. This trend underscores the importance of catering to multimedia needs in the translation industry and reflects a strategic shift towards inclusive communication strategies, particularly in the digital landscape where video content plays a pivotal role in conveying messages and reaching broader audiences. Video translation services cater to the visual and auditory aspects of communication, expanding beyond traditional text-based translations to ensure accurate and engaging content delivery across various platforms.

TikTok, for instance, hosts around 500 million businesses. Most of the videos circulating on this and other platforms are produced in English, and although English literacy worldwide is growing, non-English speakers are left behind. From 2020 statistics, we know that 65% of customers prefer content in their language, while 40% will not buy a product if they cannot have the product’s information in a language they understand. Video translation services cater to this growing industry enhancing user experience by breaking language barriers and making video content more accessible to non-native speakers through subtitles, voice-overs, or dubbing in multiple languages.

We are now no strangers to real-time translation on remote communication software or AI-powered subtitling tools; however, despite the growing demand and volume for video translation, there is still work to be done to achieve the same level of accuracy as text translation. By enabling businesses to reach a broader global market and resonate with viewers on a cultural level, video translation services play a crucial role in fostering meaningful cross-cultural communication. Technological innovations in video translation, such as AI-driven tools, streamline the localization process, improve accuracy, and offer cost-effective solutions for businesses seeking to expand their video content globally.

4. Focus on Quality Assurance


In 2024, the translation industry is placing a significant emphasis on enhancing MT quality to meet the evolving demands of global communication. Ensuring high-quality translations remains a priority, with an emphasis on implementing quality control processes like translation memory, terminology management, machine translation quality estimation (MTQE), and language quality assurance (LQA) to meet the evolving demands of global communication and commerce. The focus on machine translation quality this year is driven by the need to deliver precise and culturally sensitive translations that resonate with users across different languages and cultures.

We discussed the growing need for customization of systems for the translation of domain-specific content, but customization must be carried out along with QA. In our experience, in the race for “real-time” translation and high turnarounds, quality must not be overlooked; on the contrary, it must be enhanced to achieve consistency of outputs and show results for clients so they can base their decisions on how well systems perform for their purposes. Well-conducted LQAs can effectively be used to tune in systems with domain-specific and company-specific glossaries, for instance, or get rid of translations that might have different meanings in a certain industry.

In a scenario where NMT and LLMs continue to develop, so will the metrics and LQA tools to adapt to the most recent developments and market demands. On the one hand, although BLEU and TER scores, for instance, have become well-established metrics in the industry, we will continue to see the development and implementation of other metrics such as hLEPOR and COMET. On the other hand, regardless of the LQA method, there is no doubt they take even more importance now to ensure that MT outputs are up to the market standards and provide the necessary information for further customization of MT engines.

5. The Language Specialist Behind the Machine


Last but not least, as the integration of sophisticated software and cutting-edge methodologies has elevated language translation to new levels of efficiency and accuracy, language professionals and LSPs have had to adapt to the new demands of the market. As we mentioned before, this is nothing new in the industry, but the advancements in translation technology have transformed traditional translation processes, allowing faster turnaround times while maintaining high-quality outputs, thus considerably changing the translation landscape. The profession of the translator as we know it is transforming and as MT is more integrated into translation pipelines and other industries, we will hear of roles such as post-editor, reviewer, content reviewer, or data analyst for machine training instead of “translator.”

This evolving landscape emphasizes the importance of collaboration between human expertise and advanced technologies to enhance translation efficiency and accuracy. AI and machine translation tools are revolutionizing the way translation is done, moving towards a model where translators act as supervisors and reviewers of machine-generated translations. As AI continues to advance, translators are adapting to new responsibilities, focusing on post-editing machine-generated translations, refining outputs, and ensuring linguistic nuances are accurately captured.

In this scenario, translator associations are now wondering about how the translator fits into that scenario, as well as their concerns regarding the use of MT and GenAI in terms of security, language inclusion, and cultural bias. Talk of a ‘human-in-the-loop’ scenario where the traditional role of translators is transitioning towards managing and optimizing machine-generated translations, emphasizes the importance of human judgment in areas where cultural context and linguistic intricacies are crucial. Other discussions centre around ‘translator-in-the-lead’; that is, having the language specialist at the centre of the process. What is certain is that this shift in the profession shows the complementary nature of human expertise and AI technologies in delivering high-quality translations efficiently and will signify a new wave of language specialists’ roles who will have to learn how to work with AI and MT.

These trends highlight the transformative influence of technology on the translation sector, promising a future where language services are not only efficient but also deeply contextualized and relevant for users worldwide. The industry’s trajectory is moving towards enhanced AI integration, specialized services and localization demand, growth in video translation services, quality assurance focus, and technological advancements in meeting the dynamic demands of global communication and commerce in 2024.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Signup to our monthly Newsletter

KantanAI works with some of the world’s largest organization to improve their products and services and deliver smoother customer journeys with A.I.

Scroll to Top