The first time this reviewer saw speech recognition software in action, it was a jaw-dropping revelation. Seeing somebody speaking into a microphone and watching their words accurately (well almost) typed out on screen at the same time seemed like magic.
However, many of those who tested early versions of the software found it wanting. Long periods of training were necessary, while the accuracy levels did not always inspire busy professionals to persevere.
All of that changed long ago, and the publicity material for the latest version of Dragon Professional Individual claims a 99% accuracy level. For articles like this, that is a realistic, reasonable estimate of the almost non-existent error rate.
In addition, these days very little training is required to get the system set up and running, while you can input unfamiliar words and names that might cause confusion.
This clever little program is also constantly learning your foibles so that it constantly improves. There is even a facility to input emails, documents etc., from which it can learn your style.
In order to come to terms with the software, it is merely necessary to learn a few choice commands, which are necessary to optimise the process.
While there may be the odd teething problem in the first week or two after you set up the system, these are soon overcome and it becomes a joy to use.
In addition to dictating directly into a PC or laptop via a microphone, either inbuilt or preferably a slightly better, external version which need cost no more than £20 for something of pretty high quality, it is also possible to use a dictating machine or, these days, a phone to record thoughts while you are out and about, ready to be typed up on a computer when you get back home or to the office.
It is very hard to understand why accountants have not embraced this technology. While the initial cost may seem reasonably high, it will equate to less than an hour of chargeable time for most partners or senior managers and will undoubtedly offer an opportunity to cut costs significantly.
If you are used to typing your own letters, e-mails or other documents, this presents an opportunity to save vast amounts of professional time, allowing you to go out and win more clients or service existing ones more effectively.
Alternatively, if you and colleagues make use of a PA or secretary to do the typing, there should be an opportunity to cut staffing levels to a degree by dictating your own documents.
In addition to typing out whatever you tell it to, Dragon Professional Individual will also operate many computer programs, the most obvious being those of the Microsoft Office family.
Perhaps one of your 2018 New Year’s resolutions should be to consider investing in this program on the basis that it will make work easier, save money and potentially give you more time to spend with the family. Then again, if you hate the family need any excuse to avoid them perhaps two finger typing is a better prospect after all.
The full version of Dragon Professional Individual v15 is available for £279.99 inc VAT.