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Florian Polak, Tucan: “communication will get more data-driven and increasingly complex”

No matter if you’re a student or an entrepreneur, keeping track of all the information presented in meetings or lectures can be difficult. But with the technology available today, taking notes by hand will soon be a thing of the past.

In recent years, tools like automated transcription software have risen to the surface and not only help collect large amounts of information covered in the meeting but also provide you with summaries and highlight the most important parts. But how exactly does that work?

In order to find out more, the Cybernews team sat down to talk with Florian Polak, managing director at Tucan.ai – a software that automatically records, transcribes, and provides a summary – all with the help of AI algorithms.

Let’s go back to the very beginning of Tucan.ai. What has the journey been like over the years?

The idea was born in our previous jobs. All three of us encountered the same pattern in the various organizations we worked in: there is a lot of wasted energy because we need to take better notes. In my previous job, different parts of the organization encountered the same problems and topics every 3-6 months without realizing that this had already been discussed. We lost a lot of time and money because of poor documentation. Bearing that this was a startup organization with only 100 employees, this problem is exponentially more problematic for a big corporation. Many employees know intuitively that they should take notes but do it only sporadically as it takes time and effort. I am perpetually lazy, so my note-taking was poor. Hence we set out to automate this process.

We started as a speech recognition software, focusing on “everyday business language” with all its specialized vocabulary, accents, and idioms.

We quickly realized that although a word-by-word protocol (transcription) is helpful for specific types of meetings, most employees will never read a 20-page word protocol of the 40-minute meeting they had the other day. Hence we set out in 2021 to condense these protocols into essential information and action points. We started working on a meeting summarization tool.

Can you introduce us to your transcription tool? How is AI incorporated into your product?

We offer peace of mind for businesses by transcribing, summarising, and archiving their meetings and conversations fully automated. No employee has to take manual notes. Everything around this process is automated and can be synced with other tools.

Since we often work with highly sensitive meeting data, we build the technology to guarantee our customers the highest degree of security. We can offer our full service via the cloud or as an on-premise solution on their servers.

The user adds Tucan to their meetings by adding software to their meeting platform. Our software records, transcribes, and summarises these meetings using a series of AI algorithms we developed over the years. Of course, we can fine-tune and adapt the software to the information and insights customers need for their meeting notes.

Technically, this is a fascinating field as we are aiming to “decode” human language to be able to summarise it. In recent years there have been a lot of research breakthroughs in this area, on which we based our technology. The results are surprisingly accurate. I often look at a meeting summary and think, “I could not have done this better manually”.

In your opinion, which types of organizations or users would greatly benefit from implementing AI-powered transcription solutions?

Every organization worldwide would greatly benefit from an automated way of keeping accurate notes. Based on our customers' feedback, we see that the most significant efficiency gains are found in departments that either have frequent negotiations, have to plan complex projects or do a lot of interviews.

How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Did you add any new features as a result?

As we all face spiraling inflation worldwide, manual tasks are becoming increasingly expensive. The unfortunate results have been in the news lately, with many companies reducing their workforce significantly and demanding more from the rest of their employees. The solution to this problem is to automate as many repetitive tasks around the workplace as possible.

The current hype around technologies like Chat-GPT increases pressure for companies to integrate AI into their everyday workday further. If your company is not investing in AI technologies and automation now, this will create significant competitive disadvantages down the line. The situation can be compared to the wave of digitalization that happened 20 years ago.

Why do you think companies sometimes hesitate to try out new and innovative solutions that would enhance their operations?

Many of our customers are seeking solutions for meetings containing very sensitive information. Most of our competitors cannot guarantee that the customer’s meeting data is safe as they depend on third-party technology with little to no control over them. Data security concerns are an important reason companies are sometimes hesitant to try new technologies.

This is why we emphasize data security and safety as critical advantages. We work with governmental institutions and some of Germany’s biggest DAX companies which would be impossible without this focus.

In your opinion, where can we expect to see AI-powered solutions be used more often in the near future?

We are now entering a new phase of automation. This time, however, administrative “white collar” work will be replaced. I don’t believe AI will replace employees or workers but rather make work more enjoyable and productive. On the contrary, if we plan to keep our current economic growth, automation through AI will be a necessity. This process started three to four years ago and is currently accelerating.

In this age of ever-evolving technology, what do you think are the key security practices both businesses and individuals should adopt?

I believe that choosing a partner to work with that can adapt to individual needs, use cases, and compliance rules are often much more beneficial for a business than choosing an incumbent or big name. This saves a lot more money in the long run and allows for more security as the customer is more in control.

What predictions do you have for the future of communication?

Communication will get more data-driven and increasingly complex. Companies willing to base their decisions on data will prevail over their competitors.

Would you like to share what’s next for Tucan.ai?

We have some exciting new tools planned that will further help customers gain unique insights into spoken word data that was previously inaccessible. This will be an exciting year for businesses that aim to leverage the technological progress that happened in the last few years to reach new heights of productivity and data-based decision-making.

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