Authors: Lync Team
This blog is post #7 in the Ten Days of Office series to celebrate the one-year anniversary since the release of Office 2010 and provide you with tips and tricks to get the most from your Office experience. Tune in each week day for new tips and tricks!
June 9, 2011,
Yancey Smith, Director of Product Management, Lync
On the advent...
My memory is a sieve. I can’t remember anything, and, no, it’s not getting worse with age. I was born with this problem. As a result, I’m a habitual note-taker in meetings. But I type pretty fast and could just about keep up with almost any conversation word-for-word.
Unfortunately, “typing word-for-word” is not the same as “listening”. So I’ve developed my own method of just typing every word of every sentence that I think will be important … resulting in something like “predictive inattention to content”. (Yes, I realize that phrase makes no sense. It’s just about as incoherent as my typed meeting notes.)
There’s my dilemma. I can’t remember much of anything, yet it’s unreasonable to type everything.
This is why I was so interested in studies Avaya Research undertook of ‘collaborative tagging’. Through this technology a recording of a meeting could become a useful reference tool. A straightforward audio recording can be pretty useless. For any discussion over two minutes, there’s no easy way to reference the information. You’d have to manually scroll through the recording to find anything.
Of course, transcription is a solution. One can record a conversation and then send it to a manual transcription service. I’ve never done this but a quick web search seems to indicate that this could cost a couple hundred dollars per hour of recording. Another option is to use software that does transcription automatically. I’m going to resist including an overview of these technologies. Suffice it to say that there’s no ideal software solution today, and Gartner Group’s 2009 Hype Cycle conservatively forecasts it will be several years before we see general purpose live transcription as part of our day-to-day business tools. Sure, Google just started transcribing speech for YouTube, so we can guess that their initiative may advance that Gartner forecast up a bit.
But live tagging a recorded conversation feels like an easy solution and instantly makes a recording referenceable. Tagging a call on my own is helpful. Instead of typing everything word for word, all I need to do is type in a reminder – a quick word or phrase. The Research folks built a little app window where we can type in a tag, and it’s time-stamped to synch up with the recording. And later - as my brain turns to mush - I can refresh it by returning to the recording.
Collaborative Tagging takes this to the next level. When I enter my tag, I instantly see it appear in a “tag cloud”. The Tag Cloud shows all of the words people have typed in a size relative to how much they were used, and it also lets you peek in and see who typed the tags.
First of all, there’s the benefit of having many diverse words labeling the recording. Not just mine, but others are added that wouldn’t have naturally occurred to me. Further, this allows the recorded conversations to be searchable. For example, if several of us on the same project record, tag, and store relevant conversations – I can easily leverage other conversations even if I didn’t sit in. Even further, the Avaya Researchers observe that conversation data provides enterprises with rich referenceable resources – analytics that could identify experts in an area or people working on similar topics. This is sort of like an audio version of twitter in that everything becomes searchable. In a blog article last year, Bruce MacVarish of Avaya envisions that we’ll all benefit from “conversations in the context of real-time flow of personal and work activities and thread them appropriately.”
Further, and more fun, the act of tagging becomes part of the collaboration. Frequently as I watched the tag cloud form, it helped me stay engaged (a side benefit for those of us that are habitual multitaskers). Also, it fosters alignment as well as new ideas. Just recently, for example, someone was talking about how to present an idea to a specific type of customer and someone entered the tag “revise forecast”. This snapped us all to attention and the meeting discussion shifted over to the business case. In attacking the new subject we realized that the product forecast may indeed have missed this customer segment. Sure, this could have come out in other ways, but the subtle overlays of a new shared texting/tagging service just served to enhance the conversation.
This is just one small example of new ways to augment a conversation. The additional data can transform a conversation into a referenceable resource, and the social aspects of tagging can also improve mutual understanding.