Over the years, people have been taking ‘minutes’ or notes of meetings since meetings themselves were invented. From ‘shorthand’ scribbled on paper to stenographers typing away in a court of law, pre-digital times called for notes to be taken manually.

With the invention of audio recordings, and more lately video, whether the words and pictures were captured on analogue tape or digitally on solid state hard drives, someone still had to watch and/or listen to the entire meeting in real time and somehow perform speech to text transcription for future reference. The potential for human error was, of course, very significant.

Such practices are also time-consuming, therefore expensive. So it wasn’t until voice transcription into text became reliable, empowered by AI-enhanced  digital adoption tools, that transcriptions of meetings suddenly became very much more accurate and easier to obtain.

Seek and you shall (eventually) find

But once people have access to text documents that are perfect verbatim records of meetings, it’s still a long struggle to go through a document either using ‘Command F’ or skim-reading to find the parts you want to concentrate upon.

The next phase of transcription and meeting record management is to use a platform that works using a combination of AI and human proof-readers that can perform any summarization or searching work remotely, often returning requested results in hours rather than days. The process is as useful for creatives wanting to caption explainer videos as it is for marketers making a video pitch for investment, or for C suite personnel producing presentations at board level. Not least, imagine the various advantages of such digital adoption tools that academics can benefit from when using such software to read transcripts of lectures by eminent speakers.

Furthermore, despite misgivings from some who think that AI is becoming too prevalent too quickly, and may even be anti-competitive, some transcription service providers even offer instantaneous AI translation services into multiple languages with human post-editing and proof-reading backup.

Long on words, short on effort

Let’s look at a fictional yet realistic example of how this could work in practical terms:

Professor Plum, emeritus head of Economics at Oxbridge University, gives a lecture on the failures of post-monetarist policies in Western markets after the onset of the economic crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The lecture, given in English, is attended in person by around 500 Oxbridge students but is also streamed across the globe using proprietary video tools and social media. The event is around three hours long with barely a break for Prof Plum to take a few sips of water. Transcription software platforms being used by students and academics indicate that the Prof uttered around 23,000 words in 178 minutes. That’s a lot of notes to trawl through!

As soon as the lecture is over, academics internationally wish to use Plum’s words to debate and contextualise their own teaching practice. Let’s say that Dr Velensky at the University of Warsaw wishes to put together a paper examining Plum’s arguments. He wants to be one of the first people in the international press to respond to Plum’s contentious statements, so he has to work fast. Velensky sends his copy of the Plum lecture to a transcription and translation platform, asking for any passages relating to Poland to be highlighted and summarised.

Within four or five hours, at the nominal cost of, say, less than a hundred Euros, Velensky has an editable word document, a secured PDF and a transcribed subtitled video (in Polish)  – all on his personal hard drive with a backup in the cloud kept in his AI transcription provider’s platform’s account.

Within 24 hours, Velensky has taken Plum’s lecture, quoted many direct references from it, and countered Plum’s arguments with his own ideas of how Western governmental economic policy should be forged in order to respond to the situation. His letter is published two days later in the Financial Times, Forbes and widespread online media internationally.

Of course, this could not have happened anywhere near as quickly if the transcription and subsequent translation was not so rapid.

Taking to digital like a duck to water

What’s more, spare a thought for the human proof-readers and translators employed by the transcription platform. Without great quality UI (User interfaces) and UX (User Experience facilities) – such a workload might prove impossible. Granted, the majority of translation is performed by AI, but native speakers have to give the grammar and content a thorough check and clean up under time-pressure.

This is where it’s important to remember that whenever technological change happens in huge leaps and bounds, human operators must be able to keep up to speed with the demands put upon them by ever-increasing customer expectation. Not least, there is an argument that digital adoption, left too rapid and unchecked, causes excessive inequality within societies. Consequently, this is where Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) become so useful for software operators and humans generally.

DAPS offer a secondary ‘teaching layer’ of software that runs alongside the primary platform in question. Crucially, that teaching facility is hyper-personalised so that the AI learns the workflow style of the operator in question via their own individual account. This means that when a human operator makes mistakes in their workflow, the DAP’s AI picks up these trends and offers proactive help even before the next potential mistake is made. But when the operator’s practices change as a result of their learned experience, the DAP will stop prompting that issue, and scan for other workflow inefficiencies that could benefit the person concerned.

DAPs are like having an experienced, friendly mentor sitting over an operator’s shoulder, politely helping them to learn any software changes smoothly, without them feeling pestered or harangued.

As with all technological advancement, it’s human operators who work open-mindedly alongside AI to adapt to digital changes who will benefit the most. Those Luddites who are determined to stick to existing practices with wilful stubbornness are those who will be left behind in the brave new world of the hybrid work from home arena, whether they be translators, academics, accountants or board directors.