What tech challenges do SME language service companies really face? In the 21st century language…
The ATC’s Member of the Month in October 2021 is STAR UK, the independent UK arm of the global STAR group operating in 30 countries.
STAR UK’s Managing Director Steve Smith filled us in on STAR’s outlook, 18 months into the Covid pandemic, what’s happening with the luxury goods market, and why technology hasn’t been the death of translation as we know it.
STAR UK is part of the global STAR group of companies with 50 offices in over 30 countries. “STAR UK is 100% owned by STAR in Switzerland, but run as an independent company,” explains Steve. “It means that although we operate under the STAR brand, we are free to adapt to the local market, which is the STAR philosophy.”
Over the past 18 months as the Covid pandemic swept the world, Steve and his team have benefited from the unique insights of STAR colleagues across the globe.
“For us, 2020 was difficult, and 2021 slower than anticipated, but we are heading into 2022 with not just a positive outlook but a solid forecast for growth,” says Steve. A considerable proportion of STAR UK’s into-English work comes from STAR companies in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France. The effects of the pandemic on different countries have also been felt at STAR UK, for example, with German manufacturing clients putting all product development on hold.
One of STAR UK’s core sectors is the luxury items market, which has undergone a major shift during the pandemic. “Our core business for this sector was press releases and marketing material for prestigious product launches, but as in-person events have been impossible for nearly two years, we’ve seen a transition to online content meaning a shift towards more subtitling and transcription,” Steve says.
STAR’s proprietary translation tool TRANSIT NXT has been adapted to work with subtitles, to respond to the growing need for video content globally. Along with subtitling, STAR UK has also seen an increase in transcription. In the luxury goods market, large press events are all online, and they all need to be transcribed which means that there is a need for solutions for audio as well as video.
Perhaps because of its focus on the luxury goods market, STAR UK has not seen a significant rise in MT or automated solutions. Luxury goods clients are focused on perfect quality, so all localised content must match the brand’s identity. For them, it’s only top-notch human quality that goes.
Steve remembers having discussions at ATC conferences 10-15 years ago on the imminent death of translation. “There was a lot of doom and gloom on how technology would make translators redundant, but it just hasn’t happened, and STAR UK is still in a luxury position to have a large team of in-house linguists, and send traditional work out to our freelance translators and subtitlers,” Steve muses.
For STAR UK, the future is looking bright. “We want to continue to develop our UK business, in parallel with serving our STAR group companies, providing a quality service and growing organically. For us, this business has never been about a race to the bottom.”