Localization Evolved: Moving Beyond the Limits of the ‘Iron Triangle’

RWS Evolve

The need for efficient and effective localization has never been more critical to global success. Organizations operate in an increasingly interconnected world – one that offers immense opportunities but also suffers from an explosion in content. 

Traditional localization isn’t built for the scale and pace needed by global enterprises today so struggles to keep up with the ever-growing demand for multilingual content. Each efficiency gain, like translation memory or machine translation, seems to be quickly eclipsed by the sheer volume of content requiring translation. Businesses are often forced to choose between cost, quality and speed. Known as the ‘iron triangle’, it’s long been an insurmountable obstacle to quickly delivering high-quality translations at scale.

To overcome this conundrum, RWS has developed Evolve, its flagship Human+AI solution – building on the philosophy of ‘Genuine Intelligence’ – that aims to redefine what’s possible in the world of localization.

Beyond the ‘iron triangle’

Whether you’re familiar with the ‘iron triangle’ term or not, you’ll be familiar with the concept. In the world of project management, the iron triangle refers to the relationship between quality, cost and speed. Traditionally, this is a careful balancing act. Optimizing one or two of these elements often comes at the expense of the third. You can achieve high-quality translations, but they may be costly or time-consuming. You could prioritize speed and affordability, but in doing so, you will almost certainly compromise quality.

However, advancements in AI, particularly in neural machine translation (NMT) and large language models (LLM), offer promise. When carefully combined with human expertise, these technologies have the potential to transform localization – breaking the traditional limitations of the ‘iron triangle’.

This is a world where a localization solution not only produces high-quality translations but does so rapidly and cost-effectively. A solution that understands context, nuance and cultural impact, so that the translated content resonates with each target audience. This isn’t some utopian vision of the future – it’s the here and now.

RWS, a world-leading provider of technology-enabled language, content and intellectual property services, is well-placed to address this challenge – recognizing that while technology is crucial to tackle the growth in content, it’s no silver bullet. Humans are, and will always remain, indispensable for ensuring accuracy and understanding linguistic nuance. The artistry, creativity and cultural sensitivity of language is incredibly hard to get right with AI alone, and high-quality translations, done by human linguists, require a greater commitment in terms of time and cost.

Evolve breaks free from traditional constraints by understanding where the compromises typically need to be made and finding new ways to make the translation process more efficient.

A Human+AI ecosystem in action

So, how does it work? How do you combine the best of AI with efficiently-utilized human expertise – in a way that can deliver quality, at scale, more affordably?

First, content is processed through an industry-leading translation management system, Trados Enterprise, which ensures seamless project management and security. Then, RWS’ dedicated NMT, Language Weaver, generates initial translations, which are subsequently evaluated by a specially trained Machine Translation Quality Estimation (MTQE) model. This quality estimation – refined using data from 35,000 language specialists – assesses and grades the quality of the output as good, adequate or poor to determine which text segments need further editing. 

RWS Evolve

Next, content deemed adequate or poor by the MTQE system undergoes up to three iterations through a fine-tuned private LLM, with each pass being assessed for quality improvement, further refining and improving the translations. This feedback loop massively cuts down the amount of content needing manual review. Any remaining segments that are not deemed to be good quality are fixed by ‘human-in-the-loop’ language specialists. All of these edits, either from the LLM or humans are then sent back to the NMT for adaptation and improved output – leading to faster turnaround times and efficiency gains of up to 65% across the translation supply chain. 

The more of this crucial-but-costly post-editing that can be automated, the more time expert linguists have to use their valuable skills where this is needed most.

Self-improving systems

Evolution isn’t a single milestone, it’s a process. It’s continual, iterative – and importantly –self-improving. 

Evolve’s auto-adaptive nature means it becomes more accurate and efficient over time. The solution is built to learn and improve. Through its intelligent feedback loop, incorporating both human and AI corrections and suggestions, the linguistic models are continually being refined and improved. 

Put simply, the more Evolve is used, the better, and smarter, it gets. 

Reaching its full potential means feeding it as much content as possible. More content means more opportunities to learn and improve. This allows for increasingly accurate, fluent, culturally nuanced translations over time. The suggested changes by both the LLM and human linguists that are accepted are continually fed back into the NMT engine, further enhancing the quality of the original output – so each subsequent project starts from an even stronger position.

And as it gets to know the nuances of your particular industry sector, or specialism, or tone of voice, more of its automated output will be accurate first time, growing its strategic value to each business looking to expand its global presence. 

Opening new possibilities

The spotlight is well and truly on generative AI and large language models to deliver right away. Businesses everywhere are under increasing pressure to demonstrate how they are harnessing the power of AI to drive efficiencies and scale production. 

Evolve is here to help realize these ambitions. RWS’s deep expertise in both human-powered translation and AI innovation combines to uniquely deliver the best of both worlds. With 1,750 in-house language specialists, a network of over 35,000 linguists and a 20-year history of pioneering AI developments, RWS has the knowledge and experience to leverage AI effectively for real-world localization results – here and now.

RWS Evolve

Evolution is a gradual process and RWS has been carefully and deliberately pushing the boundaries of what is possible over time, to deliver the next step in the localization evolution. It has done so through addressing the real-world challenges and limitations that have long faced the localization industry. By intelligently utilizing the immense human expertise available to it, with ground-breaking AI efficiencies, this solution enables global enterprises to do so much more. To break down language barriers, reach new markets faster, and build stronger relationships with audiences worldwide.

By moving beyond the ‘iron triangle’ and overcoming long-accepted limitations in the translation process, Evolve delivers on what always seemed impossible – quality, speed and affordability – without having to compromise. 

As we look towards the future, it’s clear that localization need no longer be a barrier to global growth – instead it can be a catalyst for it. With Evolve, the world’s biggest companies can reach audiences across languages and cultures, with unparalleled speed, quality and affordability. Welcome to the new era of localization.


Mark Lawyer

Mark Lawyer is the Global Head of Linguistic AI at RWS Group, where he leads the formulation and implementation of international market strategies across product development, sales, marketing, account management and partnerships. With an extensive career spanning over two decades, Mark has cultivated invaluable expertise, collaborating with prominent Fortune 500 companies.  His deep commitment to advancing global content and linguistic AI technologies is evident in his impactful contributions. Mark’s leadership is characterized by unwavering integrity and a keen focus on excellence.  He has successfully assembled and led high-performing teams dedicated to overcoming communication barriers through cutting-edge solutions. Based in New York, Mark is a graduate in communication and international business.  He resides with his family, embodying a truly global perspective in both his personal and professional endeavors.