In a world where technology reaches into every corner and aspect of our daily lives, the latest digital products and software updates are often met with huge excitement and anticipation. But Microsoft’s most recent announcement has certainly inspired a real sense of intrigue among gadget enthusiasts and practical professionals alike.

In a statement released earlier this year, the tech giant revealed their plans to include cutting-edge transcription software in its OneDrive for Business package. To many professionals, this will come as a welcome surprise in time for Christmas: a gift that will, as they say, keep on giving. But will Microsoft’s contribution to the automated services market make the dreams of those who use it a reality?

Ultimately, only time and the inevitable reviews will tell.

According to reports, this new transcription service will mean that files will become easily searchable in the OneDrive system. People will be able to find video and audio files simply by searching for the words and phrases they have within them.

Automation: not all its cracked up to be?

Currently, automated transcription services provide those who use them with a quick alternative to the monotony of manual transcription. And, driven by huge digital demand, the market is flourishing.

That’s not to say, however, that these automated services aren’t without their clunky imperfections. The numerous complaints relating to the accuracy of the transcripts they produce are online for all to see.

But transcription technologies aren’t the only automated service to have been on the receiving end of widespread (though, at times, hilarious) acrimony.

Take Google Translation, for example. Despite being one of the most popular services operating in the digital realm, with over 500 million people using it every single day, it’s become best known for its imperfections; for those hilariously nonsensical translations which make it into the headlines.

In a television report into the effects of the service on the Welsh language, comedian Gary Slaymaker commented: “Rather than pay for a living, breathing translator, they’ll put their translations through Google Translate and end up with word porridge.”

Hilarious examples of its terrible translation exist in every corner of the net. But is Microsoft’s new service destined to receive a similar amount of online scrutiny?

Transcription: A picture of a large office; busy people at work.

The answer to this depends solely on the quality of the service itself. Taking stock of the current market for automated transcription, however, many see this particular glass as half empty.

For the moment at least, there are two main reasons why these services are unable to provide their users with a word-perfect transcript.

First, the nature of the task requires the software to navigate the intricacies, cadences, intonations and accents of the human voice: a tricky task for man, let alone machine.

Second, quite simply, it’s just a question of time. Some automated services offer to perform transcription at break-neck speeds, which, for some, is brilliant.

For professionals working in industries and companies where the stakes and the cost of making mistakes is high, however, nothing less than perfection will do. To them, automated transcription services will always come second best to its manual alternative.

The ultimate transcription conundrum

That’s why, here at VoiceBox, we have hire super-friendly and hugely experienced transcribers to do the job. Our terrific manual transcription service provides our clients with greater freedom and allows them to spend their time (and money) more wisely.

With the help of our two-stage proof-reading process, we examine the grammar, punctuation and spelling of our transcripts to ensure that, come the end of the project, they are as true to the recording as possible.

Automated transcription services have come on leaps and bounds over the past few years, and, if the past twenty years of technological advancement are anything to go by, will continue to improve at rapid speeds.

But at the time of writing, they remain incapable to guaranteeing perfection for those who depend upon them.

That’s why, while being impressed and excited about these amazing developments, our clients continue to place their faith in the human hands of our trusty transcribers: people who, without fail, deliver top results time in time out.

Sim Johnston