It is not always obvious, but in recent years there has been a large increase in the number of Silicon Valley start ups getting funding from investors to “disrupt” the transcription market. The transcription market generally is vast, with billions of dollars of work worldwide available and larger companies seeking to make moves to grab a large proportion of this business. Some of these are investing millions in new systems, providing automated transcription and AI (artificial intelligence) transcription.
It is pretty clear that eventually computers will get so advanced the need for human transcribers for the vast majority of straightforward dictation work will no longer be there, because this is the natural progression for a computer; learning to detect accents, nuances and expressions only relevant on a regional basis. However in the meantime quite a lot of the new transcription companies are simply a rehash of the old ones. They provide a quote, get the file uploaded and return via email. What some of the new companies have done though is to start a race to the bottom by putting any of the work you upload into an auction system whereby the work is outsourced to the lowest bidding transcriptionist. This person can be anywhere in the world undertaking your transcription and as a result the quality is immediately compromised.
Whilst it is the case that some of the companies claim to proof read all transcription work, we’re not sure how accurate this is in reality, and we hear from clients that there is a large percentage of inaccurate transcription undertaken by some of these companies simply because of the method of using a transcriber. Furthermore we get reports of online transcription platforms indicating one price and then returning to ask for more money if any part of the recording is indecipherable.
The problem with a lowest bidder auction is that invariably the work is going to be won by somebody who isn’t really particularly bothered about doing a good job, has no intention of spending any time on the transcription and is simply going to get it done as quickly as possible. We have come across incidences of transcribers using automated dictation software to try and detect the vast majority of the transcription and then hoping for the best and sending it back with a considerable number of mistakes.
Whilst this approach may work if you are restricted by cost, in reality most of our clients rely on accuracy and reliability, and do not have time to go through each transcription to check the accuracy. The vast majority of the time you are going to end up spending more time and effort on a transcription than if you attempted to use expert transcribers such as universitytranscriptions.co.uk or tptranscription.co.uk. There is also a website for maintaining a level of quality within the industry – transcriptionsociety.org.
Our advice is to check out the method of payment and use of sub-contractors or employees to undertake your transcription work, and to make sure you understand the consequences of using a platform transcription business which is farming your work out to the cheapest bidder, rather than a reputable transcription company.