Human touch vs. Machine: Should You Use an Automated Transcription Service?

We hear people say “Speech and voice identification tools or software are getting better than ever.” Do you in any way believe that? It kinda make some real sense though! And very evident in the world of transcriptions. So, it is fair enough to say especially in today’s world with providers like ‘Alexa, AWS Transcribe,’ ‘Google Assistant’ and ‘Siri’, we’ll always expect innovations and advancements in automated transcription software. However, the baseline questions you should be asking yourself is;

  • Are any of this automated transcription tools/software worth entrusting your projects (video or audio) on?
  • How many times have automated transcriptions left you with tragically embarrassing errors?

The transcription of words is quite relatively easier with machines than humans. But inferring the meanings of these words in the course of transcribing is quite a challenge with machines, making them prone to unnecessary and embarrassing errors. On the other hand, human transcribers are more efficient at perceiving and reorganizing the contexts of data from webinars, conference calls, videos, audio and other content intended to be transcribed.

Automated transcripts are unarguably quick and private. Even though most often, they’re edited and proofread manually. The simple reason why most people are seeking quality, accuracy and convenience in one package easily go for manual/human transcription services.

If you’re not quite sure on whether to go for manual or automated transcription services, we’ll be looking at their pros and cons to help you out with making choices;

Automated Transcripts’ Benefits

First, we’ll go through their benefits and drawbacks, starting with automated transcription services.

  • Today’s transcription tools/software like AWS Transcribe, Scribie, or Google’s ‘The Cloud Speech API’ rapidly transforms audio speech into text transcripts. At times recorded files are not even needed with these automated tools. For example, a tool like Scribie allows you to make in-app calls directly, where the conversations are recorded and automatically transcribed.
  • Averagely, most automated tools take just 30 minutes to transcribe a 2 hours file. As such, audio and video transformation of files into transcripts is easy and fast. Besides a very impressive turnaround, it is also less costly for those who don’t lay emphases on transcripts accuracy.
  • Have you got confidentiality and privacy concerns? Keep calm because, with automated transcriptions, privacy is heightened as few people listen to your audio or video files. Even though some tools like AWS and Google, often transfer data to Google’s servers, eventually making such data public. However, some tools like Scribie and Alexa are quite unique in that, they give preference to privacy, evident by not requiring 3rd party tools to process files during or after transcriptions.
  • Most businesses often use automated transcription services as a backup for issues discussed in meetings. This is because, it is also very helpful for those who record high volumes of customer calls, such as contact centers.

The Drawbacks to Automated Transcripts

  • Transcription’s automated tools/software don’t have inference systems for languages. Without which they wouldn’t be able to make contextual corrections.
  • Automated tools that give a 100% accuracy guarantee is either over optimizing or overshooting claims.
  • Typing errors are very common with automated transcripts. However, there are a number of usual typos that often occur as a result of limitations of transcripts automated tools/software.
  • Also, automated transcripts do not often use single or double quotes accurately. For instance, a voice recorder with “She said, …” might show the quotation’s starting point, without knowing exactly where to close them. Moreover, some tools don’t recognize punctuations such as exclamation marks, quotations, hyphens and even accurate capitalization. Notably, Speechmatics, Google Web Speech and AWS, which do not support quotations at all.

All in all, automated transcripts are always the first step to data transcription, and the first draft is never the final piece. As such, irrespective of how efficient some automated tools/s software could be, human touch like manual editing and proofreading is always a necessity, in order to enhance quality.

The Pros of Manual/Human Transcriptions

  • Generally, manual or human transcriptions are ideal for the best quality text versions of your files, with beyond 95% accuracy rate.
  • There’s nothing as convenient as entrusting your transcription projects to a specialist. However, human transcriptions are ideal for projects involving large files, speakers with accents, fast talkers and even audio sound changes like distortions or background noises.
  • Manual or human transcriptions are very secure, compared to automatic transcription tools. Besides, most manual transcription service providers sign NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreements) with clients, making projects highly classified.
  • With manual transcriptions, there’s a time coding feature which helps in determining when sentences are spoken, making subtitles to show up at just the right times.

Are manual or human transcripts good for you?

  • You can confidently hire the services of a manual transcriber and in return, you’ll be guaranteed of a polished and clean transcript that’ll be appealing and presentable to your audiences.
  • Enterprises and brands might require top quality transcripts in order to stay compliant with their brand guidelines. For instance, a Television Show subtitles could massively benefit from manual transcriptions, especially due to accuracy and quality guarantees.
  • Highly sensitive fields are encouraged to hire manual transcription services. Notably contents like scientific papers and medicine are of high stakes, making their findings preferably typed out manually. Moreover, they’re also very crucial for depositions, court transcripts and other legal related documents.
  • Despite higher manual transcription costs, a human transcriber who pays attention to detail can greatly save you some dollars. Besides, automated transcription’s mistakes could be very costly. Simple missing punctuation once led to engine failure on a rocket, and eventually cost $630 million in damages.

How will you transcribe?

Choosing between a machine or human most often boils down to your transcript’s needs. It is a matter of choice, especially given the fact that both transcription methods have got pros and cons. But to be realistic, human or manual transcription has got an edge over machines from a number of comprehensible perspectives.

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