Tuesday, 25 May 2021 23:07

Digitisation of audio lagging behind when it comes to enterprise transformation

By Matthew Fowler, VIQ Solutions
Matthew Fowler, Managing Director for Asia-Pacific, VIQ Solutions Matthew Fowler, Managing Director for Asia-Pacific, VIQ Solutions

COMPANY NEWS by Matthew Fowler, Managing Director for Asia-Pacific, VIQ Solutions: According to internal research conducted by VIQ Solutions, approximately 15 percent of the audio recorded by organisations, courts, law enforcement and other agencies including government bodies, is currently being digitised.

According to Gartner, 91 percent of businesses are engaged in some form of digital initiative, while 87 percent of senior business leaders say digitalisation is a priority. So why then is audio and video data being overlooked?

To some extent, the tools available for digitising a recording have not been as immediate and available as those for scanning and digitising paper documents. Intelligent capture solutions have been in the market for some years now, with increasing accuracy and scale.

It was once a time-consuming, manual task to scan documents and convert to digital records, but the advancing digitisation of the enterprise has moved the needle significantly, and now the vast majority of typed records, files and documents are digital.

They have therefore become infinitely more useful to the organisation. Rather than confined to dusty archives, they are searchable, can have ‘tags’ for key words, and the data they carry can be added to general enterprise information-gathering, to enrich the decision-masking processes of the organisation.

Transforming recorded audio into digital form can have the same effect, and bring the power of the spoken word into the same realm of digital maturity.

With the right tools in place, a board meeting, hearing, webinar or think-tank can be captured, automatically digitised in real time, and stored in accessible and therefore actionable repositories.

The data captured therefore becomes a part of the enterprise decision-making information set, adding to the richness and diversity of company intelligence sources.

Tools now exist that are fast and mobile, and provide a means of very quickly and simply capturing a live conversation or meeting and converting it to a searchable, auditable digital format. A live meeting can be digitally transcribed almost in real-time, then securely stored in the cloud or on-premises data centre. The meta-data for that transcription can be audited to assuage who may have listened to it, read a transcript, or searched it for key words.

Editing rights can be granted to certain individuals, and the lineage of the document recorded as changes are made in order to make the process transparent and secure.

Digitally transcribing audio helps provide a comprehensive end-to-end workflow in many scenarios, cutting out several layers of manual work.

Modern, sophisticated solutions also use Artificial Intelligence (AI) for recording and transcribing highly complex multi-speaker environments, with the solution literally learning on-the-job to optimise recording quality and accuracy.

There are many scenarios, between fields such as law enforcement, insurance and media, where both time and accuracy are vital to the outcome of the situation. AI-enhanced solutions are now able to assess the characteristics of an audio file and align it with the most efficient speech recognition engine. This specialised and cyber-secure workflow ensures a highly accurate and diarised draft that is then ready for self-editing or modification by professional editors to be “evidence” ready.

In less time-critical and sensitive situations, the ability to provide a fast and affordable solution for recordings that do not require an edited or certified transcript will enable organisations to uncover and activate the value inherent within their recordings, in the same manner that digitisation of documents allows them to derive deeper insights and searchability.

Modern technology also enables an organisation to digitise historical content which has been retained as an audio file but not previously transcribed. This is particularly useful for many media, law enforcement, insurance, legal and court workflows, where information may have been recorded, listened to once, and put aside.

Again, digitising that recording moves it from being a static audio file into a format whereby the information is now searchable, accessible and actionable, and therefore part of the critical decision-making process of the enterprise or legal body.

Digitising audio also mitigates risk involved with compliance, as it is possible to add layers of security to a digitised file, audit who has opened it, and make it subject to strict governance rules and regulations. A content services solution is also able to automate the storage and retrieval of an archived digital audio file, as well as adding rules for end-of-life, in scenarios where records may only be kept for a set period of time.

This type of technology addresses many professional fields. Journalists have a need for interview text and pre-production coverage for final edit to broadcast. Law enforcement officers can record notes and interviews in the field and have a transcript waiting for them at the station. Attorneys can review depositions and testimony quickly to pursue additional lines of questioning. Insurance companies can cost-effectively digitise more of their extensive audio content to improve accessibility.

There is no longer any reason why audio should be saved and stored in its static recorded format. It is infinitely possible to use the power of digital transcription to capture information in the spoken word, and bring that into an actionable, data-rich workflow. There is a long way to go before audio catches up to other content in the digital transformation cycle, but the tools are now in place to close that gap quickly.

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