Tech News: Live: Teams Transcriptions

Microsoft has announced the launch of an AI-powered live transcription tool for Teams which provides a written record of the spoken text that occurs during a meeting.

How It Works

The live transcription tool identifies each speaker and automatically captures in real-time what is said by each speaker and makes the transcript available during and after the meeting. It uses AI-based Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology to identify and transcribe what is being said by meeting participants. The technology is able to use a meeting’s invitation, participant names, attachments, and more to improve its accuracy and recognise meeting-specific jargon for each transcript automatically, without any human involvement.

Using Live Transcription

To use the tool, the tenant admin must turn on the ‘Allow Transcription’ policy to enable the meeting organizer/presenter to start a meeting transcription. Participants are notified that live transcription is on and can choose to hide it from their meeting view with a click. If attendees choose not to be identified, they can also turn off speaker attribution in their profile settings. The transcripts are shown to meeting participants in a column down one side of the screen.

Accuracy

Whilst Microsoft is clearly proud of the development of the live transcription tool, the company does point out that it is not guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate and “should not be relied upon in life-altering situation”.

Storage

After each meeting, the saved transcript is made available for reference and download in Teams for desktop and web, in the meeting event in Teams calendar, and through the transcript tile in the chat. The live transcription files are stored in the meeting organizer’s Exchange Online account and only the organiser and tenant admin have permissions to delete it.

Privacy and Security

Microsoft says that no-one at Microsoft can see a meeting’s content, the models are automatically deleted immediately after each meeting, and Microsoft doesn’t use or store this data for improving its own AI.

Availability

The live transcription with speaker attribution tool is available for scheduled Microsoft Teams meetings (in U.S. English) to public cloud customers with licenses for Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, and Microsoft 365 Business Premium SKUs.

Zoom

Microsoft’s announcement follows Zoom’s announcement in February that it is “working towards making automatic closed captioning —what we refer to as “Live Transcription”— available to all of our users in the fall of 2021”.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The introduction of this tool is another move in the market battle between the big remote, collaborative working platform competitors Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.  In this case, although Zoom beat Microsoft with the announcement of a live transcript feature, Microsoft has beat Zoom in actually delivering the feature to users.  The live transcript tool is likely to deliver value to business users in terms of helping users to either follow meetings more easily, catch up on meeting content (e.g. if late for the meeting or double-booked), helping multi-tasking (and enabling ‘zoning out’), as well as being an extra accessibility feature.

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