Artificial Intelligence

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Will AI Eventually Replace Executive Assistants?

October 31, 2018 - 5:00 pm
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In 1990, Bill Gates introduced Microsoft Office to the corporate world. Soon after, companies hiring new employees demanded MS office skills. To remain employable, executive secretaries and office clerks, accustomed to the IBM Selectric and stenography, abandoned the typewriter and steno pad for MS Office boot camp and MOS certification. Now, the AI office assistant has arrived. So extend a welcome to Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant with a cup of Keurig-brewed coffee. Just a millisecond — it might be better to have your AI assistant order coffee for you!

 

What can AI personal assistants do?

Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and Alexa have become household and industry names as well as indispensable PAs to those attuned to smart tech for home and workplace, especially the home office. However, the digital fab four are not the only AI personal assistants. Let's see what other AI-driven PAs can do:

  • Meet Amy and Andy of X.ai. Scheduling and arranging a meeting through Outlook or other electronic calendar is a pain. These two delightful assistants can do it all, from networking over coffee to office and phone meetings. Andy and Amy are also programmed to thoughtfully take communication preferences into account, such as where a meeting will take place, who is invited, and teleconferencing vs. private conversation.
  • Google Duplex books appointments and reservations.  
  • Mezi, owned by American Express, searches for travel options based on traveler preferences, and books a flight, hotel and hotel check-in. This PA removes the stress from business travel arrangements, and has become a key travel resource for companies and individual travelers.
  • Clara and Restless Bandit perform HR functions, namely, screening job candidates. Clara also books general appointments and makes conference room arrangements. Restless Bandit looks for good matches between job applicants and listed job openings. Yes, bots are becoming tomorrow's job recruiters. However, in the meantime, they remove the HR admin tedium of selecting and booking appointments for potential hires.
  • Effective task organization is half the battle of office management. Edison Assistant is pretty good at this. Edison can gather tasks from multiple channels, including social media accounts, and integrate into a convenient app. Edison can also remove outdated and duplicate activities, update contacts, automatically track packages, and manage email. A solid complement to travel arranger Mezi, Edison can add itineraries and reservations to a busy executive's calendar.

 

Digital helpers

Some prefer calling a digital assistant a "digital helper.” In a 2017 article, Biztake Magazine reported, “According to a 2016 survey of workers’ attitudes toward technology conducted by Dell, Intel and consultants Penn Schoen Berland, the Journal reports that ‘30 percent of employees around the world chose digital helper as the potential use of artificial intelligence that they would be most excited about in their jobs’.” The article attempts to answer the question of whether the big four — Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant — will be stepping out of the home and into the office. The answer is they already have, and their AI competencies are being compared to those of other digital PAs. New entrants to today's workforce fall in love with the digital help because they're often cool looking, pleasant to work with, and entertaining. Companies love them because these helpers don't need breaks, perks, time off or benefit packages.

Although hands-on knowledge of MS Office products is required, even at the executive level, AI is gradually absorbing more routine office work. The myriad tasks clerks and secretaries once performed, such as filing, appointment scheduling and answering the phone, have been delegated to an AI office assistant. However, AI is being primed, or should we say groomed, for office management and perhaps an executive assistant position. At any rate, be prepared to submit your timesheet to an AI administrator instead of the regular nine to five office manager. You might already be doing this.

 

This article was written by Linda Cameron for Small Business Pulse