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Speech to Text to Knowledge

I am an avid listener. Not enough, according to my daughters, but Audio has always been my go-to for learning. I would record the lectures in University, just to hear them later at twice the speed, and used Text-to-speech engines long before they were good…

Still, most of our professional life is encoded in Text- starting in E-mails, reports, meeting minutes, and regulatory submissions, to numerical representations of data. It all boils down to texts and numbers, to the joy of our computers. But when it comes to human-to-human knowledge transfer- spoken words, tone, speed, gestures, and facial expressions remain as critical channels for us to fully do this.

Before COVID, we would travel to another country for a few hours of face-to-face meetings (and we still do)- but the transition to Video conferencing showed us that in spite of not being as good as face-to-face meetings, they are good enough. Surely much better than large-group phone calls....

But why keep it only for meetings?

I find myself constantly hopping between media (voice messages, screen recordings, and even ad-hoc instructional videos for my clients), and I realized that much of this information is left behind from our good ol’ friends- the computers. Ever tried finding a voice message you recorded to yourself with that brilliant idea you had while walking the dog?

But worry not- as the tools that automatically transcribe audio streams into texts (and even generate summaries!) are booming and touching every possible media…. Microsoft is integrating these tools into Teams, and standalone tools are everywhere- look it up.

Even if imperfect- these auto-generated texts could be used as quick and dirty, searchable meta-tags for any Audio/Video files that the team generates, and as a single unit could be a valuable addition to the company’s knowledge base, especially when capturing tacit knowledge.

From time to time, it’s worth crystallizing some of those discussions into hand-crafted texts, but until then it’s better than nothing.

Give it a try!


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