Going Beyond Digital Dictation with Winscribe

In today's tough economic market, firms are constantly under pressure to improve their bottom line while still delivering outstanding client care. Reducing document turnaround time, minimising lost productivity and offering staff members flexibility while on the move or working remotely are just some of the day-to-day challenges they face. Winscribe's Nicole Williams reports.

Digital dictation has been in the marketplace for a number of years and it is likely that most firms have heard of the technology - or even considered it. More often than not, it can help overcome some of the aforementioned challenges along with an immediate, positive impact on a firm's bottom line. Today's digital dictation systems have developed into more comprehensive workflow systems, streamlining voice-todocument process, and they and are now seen as a core application for law firms worldwide.

In essence, standard digital dictation is a method of recording and editing the spoken word in real time utilising a digital audio format through a number of different methods such as a PC, a portable device or a mobile phone. There has been a number of innovations in recent times that have enhanced the way firms dictate and transcribe, even above and beyond what standard digital dictation systems are perceived to be. Some basic systems often lack the tools to enable managers and users to identify clearly uncompleted work backlogs, find out who is doing what, see instant information on support staff efficiency, provide the promotion of priority projects or enable users to reroute work as needed. As a result, firms who use these systems often do not realise all the benefits that more sophisticated systems offer.

Nowadays, digital dictation encompasses the idea of work-flow management that enhances the benefits of collecting voice digitally while also managing the flow of information after capturing it. Digital dictation work-flow management systems are designed with a powerful array of functions to ease your workload. They are easily administered and afford the coordination, control and communication of activities automatically.

The emergence of dictation applications for mobile devices has enabled lawyers to dictate remotely and send their jobs back to the office for immediate transcription. This is in stark contrast to the analogue tape-based systems that can be costly to maintain and require them to hand their secretaries the tapes physically. Mobile dictation allows firms greater flexibility and as a result, increased productivity and efficiency, as well as dramatically improved document turnaround time.

Sydney-based law firm, Collin Biggers Paisley, has seen significant benefits since implementing a digital dictation system, according to IT manager Julian McEvoy.

Winscribe is a world-leading provider of digital dictation work-flow management solutions offering a wide range of dictation via mobile devices. As part of Winscribe's mobility suite, Winscribe for the Blackberry Smartphone was launched in Autumn 2007, an innovation and industry first at the time. Winscribe's application is said to be 'extremely easy' to use and intuitive.

"Our lawyers spend a lot of time out on clients' sites,"  he says, "and the Winscribe solution allows them to dictate anywhere without having to go back to the office to drop off a tape for transcription. It is a big time-saver, and means more time spent out in the field working with clients."

It can be used in conjunction with the Blackberry Enterprise server (BES) located on a firm's network. For those concerned that confidential documents may be compromised by sending dictations captured via mobile devices electronically, all dictations are encrypted using 168 bit or 256 bit AES. For implementations without a BES, dictation can be sent using a secure web connection (HTTPS), that protects the dictation using a 128 bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Security. The device itself provides added security, offering dictation file encryption on both the device's internal memory and the SD card.

In addition to the Blackberry application and keeping with the idea of allowing greater user flexibility, Winscribe continues to build strong relationships with a number of technology and hardware alliances and, as a result, is able to support dictation through a wide range of portable devices to capture the audio component.

In conjunction with suppliers such as Philips, Winscribe can often utilise existing firm hardware, reducing the overall investment. The product suite Philips offers represents a range of popular, easy-to-use models, such as Philips digital portable devices, Philips Speech microphones and Digital Pocket Memos. Users can even dictate by the telephone, VoIP or their PDA for maximum flexibility while secretaries can be anywhere - spread across multiple sites or at home - alone or as part of a typing pool.

Philips analogue recording technology is known for its ergonomics and reliability as well as functionality, and these are guaranteed in all Philips' digital devices. The training requirements for basic functionality are low as lawyers and staff are familiarised individually with the new environment on their own workstation.

"Philips is proud to be partnering Winscribe and moving towards constantly enhancing the way dictation is captured and processed," says Graeme Pearson, Asia Pacific Cluster Manager for the company. "We are committed to manufacturing easy-to-use devices that produce optimal sound quality."

Another concept that is gaining momentum in the digital dictation space is the Software as a Service (commonly known as Saas) model. So, what is it? It is a platform that allows smaller firms not wanting to make the investment in an internal dictation infrastructure to maximise the benefits that a digital dictation system offers with minimal cost.

In 2008 Winscribe launched its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of its product suite: Winscribe OnDemand. Most digital dictation systems operate on traditional software licensing, and applications are installed at customers' sites on their own servers. The customer is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure the software requires. With the SaaS model, software and servers are managed by the software vendor and in Winscribe's case, data is housed in an enterprise calibre secure data centre ensuring maximum security. All software and server upgrades are carried out by the vendor automatically, thus freeing internal resources to focus on core business activities.

SaaS can address many of the IT headaches associated with the traditional on-site software model where firms may lack dedicated IT departments or staff. With no software or servers to buy, install, maintain or upgrade, it takes the stress out of maintaining the system. The immediate use it affords is perhaps the best part and it is fast becoming a more viable option for firms wanting to increase efficiency.

A firm considering implementing a digital dictation work-flow management system may be concerned about the impact this type of technology might have on the daily workings of the company. Indeed, the rate of user adoption is an important aspect of any technology purchase, and one of the most important features in the systems of today is that their configuration and management is straightforward and easy to use, affording greater visibility. Firms who implement these systems find that convincing their staff to adopt them is often fast - and quite painless - and minimal training is required.

With the abundance of information in the market today, choosing the solution that best suits your needs and taking the first step in transition from analogue tapes or a more basic digital system to a digital dictation work-flow management system may seem a daunting task.

Although digital dictation can represent a large upfront investment - and it can be difficult to choose the right one - innovations in recent times have captured the essence of increasing efficiencies. The improved document turnaround time and reduced maintenance costs alone give you a return on that investment fast, and - most importantly - the system can support the unique needs and goals of the individual, and of the firm. ALB

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