Amazon sold millons of its Echo devices -Dot, Tap, Show, etc. – in 2016, and has so far captured about 70% of the market in consumer-oriented Voice Activated AI (Artificial Intelligence). According to an article by Nick Wingfield in the August 30 edition of the New York Times, two of “The Girls of AI” (Alexa and Cortana) are now learning how to talk with each other, to increase the versatility of each. What is even more amazing about this, according to Wingfield, is that Amazon and Microsoft are talking to each other, “…join[ing] hands in a rare partnership.”
These devices are used by millions now to play music, get the weather, hear the news headlines, and get directions. Enabling voice-activated devices to perform useful business-related tasks, however, will take them to the next level, and could offer a glimpse into the future of business productivity software. Some of that has already begun to appear.
Bob Ambrogi’s recent blog post on a time tracking application called TALI is a case in point. TALI is an “Alexa-enabled” time tracking application that will soon integrate with Clio, in addition to serving as a free-standing time tracking application. Cortana is able now to work “auditorily” with Outlook, for scheduling and contact lookup. With these various apps “talking” to each other, it will soon be possible to ask Alexa to contact Cortana to check for available time on your calendar over the next two weeks – something that Alexa is currently unable to do on its own – and schedule a meeting, following that with a billing entry for the meeting.
In the New York Times article, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying that “I want [voice activated devices] to have access to as many of those A.I.’s as possible.” He suggests that artificial intelligence devices can be used the same way that someone turns “to one friend for advice about hiking and another for restaurant recommendations.”
Controlling office applications like calendars, time billing, and case management systems will take these devices to a whole new level. Dragon Dictate has offered voice control for some commercial applications for the past, but that control required memorizing specific control commands, careful syntax, and a dedicated microphone, all of which proved too daunting for many PC users. This new generation of intelligent, voice-activated devices may change that.
A future conversation with Alexa may look like this:
ME: Alexa, check my calendar for a 2 hour available time slot the week of October 16 to 20.
ALEXA: You have two hours available on October 17 from 2 to 4, and on October 19 from 10 to 12.
ME: Alexa, OK, schedule me for a meeting with Chris Jones at 2 PM on October 17, and enter a billing record for the meeting.
ALEXA: I have put this on your calendar, and entered a tentative billing record for the meeting.
Nothing that a (human) personal assistant couldn’t do for you, but it is pretty difficult to find a human personal assistant for a one-time cost of $49.95 these days, who is available to you 24/7/365.
Want to talk to a human about artificial intelligence tools for office productivity? Get in touch with us at 877-357-0555 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise not to bounce your request to our digital assistant for response.