14 October 2013

Single Digital Marketplace = Single LT Marketplace

The timing is good. MarketsandMarkets recently published a new report on the global Natural Language Processing market, estimating it would be worth some $9.8B in four years’ time. Today it stands at $3.7B. This represents an expected compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.1% from 2013 to 2018.

Whether or not we actually reach this specific degree of growth with this time line, the signs are nevertheless promising for the immediate future of language technology. For as it happens, Europe’s Research and Innovation community is meeting up in Vilnius in November to plan the Digital Agenda for Europe. And LT Innovate is committed to irrigating the valleys and plains of Europe’s communication landscape by spurring the development of innovative language technologies.

Conversational interfaces, smart content and multilingual access are destined to underwrite the human dimension of the single digital market, allowing everyone to access what the thinker Ivan Illich once called ‘tools for conviviality’ – in the etymological meaning of the word – that is, tools for living together through our devices, our languages, our businesses and our desires!

At LT-Innovate, we have already developed our own market model to estimate the size of LT market in terms of sales and services to consumers, users and citizens, rather than focus on the market for “components” such as NLP. In our 2013 market report we estimate the global language technology market to be worth around €19.3B today and we anticipate grow to nearly €30B by 2015 – at a slightly lower growth rate of around 11%. But in many ways, then these estimates reinforce the positive picture for LT foreshadowed by the report mentioned.

Globally, we estimate that the speech technology market is growing by 9.7% and will be worth some €8.6B by 2015. Intelligent content should grow to €6.2B. And the more buoyant translation technology market is worth some €8.6B today and should surge to a significant €14.9B in a few years’ time.

The fascinating challenge of this particular market is that any given advance in corporate or consumer NLP software development at point A will almost inevitably need to be localised (i.e. translate the interface into a series of languages) at point B. And every piece of text content could potentially be rolled out in a spoken form and translated into all the languages of the community.

In other words, our three segments of speech, content and translation technology are handy categories. But they will be intimately interdependent in tomorrow’s single digital marketplace. That’s why we try and offer a global LT market figure for what might today look like lots of arbitrary segments.

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