In this Guest Blog Emily Stewart, Marketing Lead at Win & Winnow Communications in Argentina, discusses the options.

Toeing the Line Between Niche-Market and Global Vendors

The global character of the translation industry is eminent. Populated by multilingual individuals who have dedicated their professional lives to linguistic communication, it is inherently so. And with the aid of communication-facilitating technology and a global-presence-favoring world economy, its international tenor is even further magnified.

This benefits the industry as a whole in terms of both production and quality. Nevertheless, competition can prove tough – especially for small and mid-sized agencies.

A prime example of this? Translation businesses based in Latin America. Specifically, in Argentina.

Recently, a colleague expressed to me her opinions regarding where difficulties lie.

Five years ago, she said, Argentine agencies working in the Latin American “niche” market of Spanish and Portuguese translations had quite the advantage.

The languages were (and remain) extremely prevalent and in demand, Spanish being one of the most widely-used languages in the world and Portuguese becoming increasingly significant thanks to the growing influence of Brazil. Lower overhead costs and rates in Argentina allowed agencies based in the country to offer excellent prices without detriment to quality, and because few players were involved in the game, there was little competition.

Cut to today, however, and the translation scene in Argentina has changed. More and more agencies have popped up that differ little in terms of quality and price – at least on the surface.

In this contemporary climate, Argentine agencies are faced with a dilemma: continue to compete in the Latin American market with a methodology that has worked in the past, or expand services and move on to the next level of multi-language vendors?

Should the agency and its leaders elect the path of the former, sticking to a formula tried and true, several issues may be anticipated.

Though they will not be faced with many alterations in internal operations, what these entities will have to deal with are questions of rates, special services and other forms of making their companies stand out. Further along the road, growth will inevitably be stunted. And if current industry trends are any indication, many of these small niche-market agencies will lose out to large corporations able to offer clients services not in just one or two of their language requirements but in all of them.

In light of this, my colleague conveyed her leanings toward the latter decision – that to think and act globally. This means offering more languages, widening the range of services and selling the company as one that can satisfy all of a client’s globalization needs – not just some.

Though the end result has the potential to be infinitely profitable, the road it requires is rocky. New clients must be sought and obtained, resources tested and qualified, and processes overhauled and evaluated. New questions arise that require answers, paramount among them those of timing, funding and capacity.

The conclusion of my colleague?

Should a company have a chance at growth and success, there is no choice but to aim high.

The effort required by the global aspirations of the Argentine translation agency is undeniably great. Nevertheless, the decision to stay behind is one of survival-risking complacence.

Today, the owners and managers of more and more Argentine translation companies find themselves faced with this choice of whether to expand and endeavour towards bigger and better things or to stick with a formula that has worked in the past and run the risk of being left behind.

While this decision is not necessarily an urgent one, it looms on the horizon. And until a clear path is chosen, Argentine agencies must toe the line as niche-market expert linguists and globally-capable service providers.