In today’s economy, many financial analysts say that “flat is good.” Looked at in isolation, the results of translation and localization industry research firm Common Sense Advisory’s fourth-quarter 2008 business confidence survey describe a market that looks healthy from that perspective. The survey results, which are available now to Common Sense Advisory’s research members and the survey respondents, show that most buyers report that demand for language services had increased (38.7%) or stayed the same (35.5%), meaning that nearly three-quarters (74.2%) are at least maintaining demand levels. Similarly, most suppliers report more (36.3%) or stable (34.2%) demand, adding up to 70.5 percent of the sample.
However, the quarter-to-quarter and year-over-year comparisons of the translation and localization industry business confidence levels show declines. These drops represented incremental decreases from quarter to quarter over 2008 that, in aggregate, add up to a significant decrease for the year in business confidence. The following represent the balance of opinion for two of the four factors surveyed in the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008:
Volume of demand. For buyers, the balance of opinion for language service demand for the previous quarter fell from 36 to 13 points between Q4-07 and Q4-08. Anticipated demand for the next quarter dropped from 56 to –5 points. Among suppliers, the balance opinion for demand in the preceding quarter went from 38 to –2 points, while expected volume of demand for the next three months plummeted from 60 to –12 points.
Business situation. The balance of opinion for buyers dropped from 54 to three points over the year, with a less precipitous decline in their financial situation (57 to 20 points). Buyer expectations about the state of the business in six months plunged from 56 to –5 points. Among suppliers, the net-balance for their present situation dropped from 29 to eight, with the financial situation going from 29 to 12. The six-month outlook declined from 57 to 20 points.
“Our supply-side analysis showed 2008 to be a banner year in sales for the language services sector,” commented Donald A. DePalma, the company’s Chief Research Officer. He added that, “Amidst this growth, our survey shows a decline in buyer and supplier confidence. However, even as the world’s economy goes through its painful twists and turns, we contend that international markets will remain a critical part of companies’ business plans. A quick review of the financial releases for large companies attests to the continuing importance of the global economy to their business plans: McDonald’s kicked off 2009 with a seven-percent increase in global sales, and even companies like Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard that are struggling with serious drops in capital investment count on international business for good chunks of their revenue,” added DePalma.
Since 2005, Common Sense Advisory has conducted quarterly surveys of buyers and suppliers to measure the confidence of the translation and localization sector. The survey, based on a template from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development for such polls, asks about demand for language services, growth in employment, and obstacles to doing business. The most recent data is based on responses from a December 2008 survey about the fourth quarter of 2008 and the upcoming 90 days. Common Sense Advisory’s research team is currently surveying the translation and localization market for the first quarter 2009. For more information visit http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/survey.