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Do Automated Transcribing Software Programs Work? Pros and cons.

Andrew Russo
Andrew Russo
Posted in Zoom Jun 9 · 12 Jun, 2015
Do Automated Transcribing Software Programs Work? Pros and cons.

While speech recognition solutions have drastically improved over the last few years, they still can't match a professional human transcriptionist when it comes to accuracy. Commercially available speech recognition software has an average error rate of 12%. If the audio is not optimal, that percentage only goes up. Is now the right time to embrace automated transcription, or is human-based transcription still the best option for industry-specific needs? Let's find out!

What Is Automated Transcription Software

Automated transcription is the process of converting audio recordings or video files into text by using speech recognition technology. Just like most other AI-based solutions, this one works similarly - by feeding software with datasets and examples it can "learn" from. As you provide more information to the software, the algorithm gets better at recognizing audio patterns and converting them into text.

Industry giants like Microsoft and Google have spent years improving automated speech-to-text transcription solutions. However, they only achieved 88% accuracy (and that's only with perfect audio). But would it be a usable option for your specific needs? Here are the key pros and cons of automated transcribing solutions to help you find out.

Pros of Automated Transcription

While it may not be perfect, automated transcribing software does have a few advantages over "traditional" human transcription:

  • Higher speed

If you need to get your content transcribed as fast as possible and you don't really need a flawlessly accurate transcript, automated transcription is your best bet. It's significantly faster than human transcription and can transcribe hours of content in mere minutes.

  • Improved accessibility

You can find countless audio-to-text converters online or even integrated into your desktop or mobile device as part of the operating system. Many of them are also free to use, and you won't even have to make a recording on a separate device. All you need to do is select the dictation software you want to use, and it'll turn your voice into text as you speak.

  • Lower cost

Aside from being faster, automated transcription solutions are significantly more cost-effective at just a few cents per minute. This is significantly less than the most affordable professional transcriptionist you'll be able to find.

  • Time-stamping

You can also find an option to place timestamps in your transcript after a specific interval automatically. There's no need for you to do it manually or pay a human transcriber extra to do it for you.

Cons of Automated Transcription

Now that we've covered the pros, let's go over the main reasons why it might not be the best option:

  • Audio quality issues

The most common problem with audio recordings is background noise. Sometimes it can be so intense that it drowns out the speakers. If that's the case, an automated solution won't be able to provide a usable transcript. The same is true if the speakers are whispering or stuttering.

  • Accents and cross-talking

Transcribing software can have difficulty providing accurate results when speakers have regional accents, talk over each other, or just speak too fast. In these situations, all automated solutions fall short and generate text that doesn't make sense, making the transcript useless without heavy editing.

  • Limited vocabulary

No matter how advanced they may be, automated transcription apps have a limited vocabulary, especially when it comes to industry-specific terms, nouns, unique names, locations, brands, etc.

  • Restricted customization

Unlike professional transcription experts, a transcribing software solution can't take specific formatting instructions and produce a custom transcript. If you have a specific format in mind, automated transcripts won't be able to deliver it.

In Conclusion

So what's more important to you? Speed or accuracy? Affordability or quality? Many things sound too good to be true, and automated transcription is still one of them. While it can be helpful in certain situations, it just can't compare with professional human transcription services in terms of quality, accuracy, and customization options.