Are you ready for Alexa and her counterparts in your workplace? With over 500 million devices already sold, the office seems like the obvious next step. According to Gartner, up to 25% of businesses could be using virtual assistants in customer service within the next few years, while Google recently demonstrated a virtual assistant that can make phone calls or book appointments.
In the 2013 film ‘Her‘, Joaquin Phoenix has a relationship with his personal AI assistant. The assistant is capable of human behaviour, offering advice and conversation. Think this is just the stuff of Hollywood?
Think again! AI Assistant Amy Ingram is so personable she’s being mistaken for human: “She has received flowers, chocolate, and whiskey at the office. She’s been asked if she’ll also be attending the meeting, pick up people in the lobby – and she just might have been flirted with a few times” – Dennis Mortensen, CEO and founder, X.ai
So, what will Alexa and her AI friends do? Where will they sit, and what will their functioning roles within the business entail?
With all workplace technology, there are best practice guidelines, and as AI assistants join our offices, we’ll need to consider what their role will be.
AI can assist us with the basics such as ordering stationery and office supplies, but they can also help with our meeting room management, booking meetings and desks in increasingly flexible workplaces. Perhaps AI Assistants could also assist with research during meetings, such as reporting the latest industry trends.
But would you want your AI assistant in the boardroom? Sure, she could be helpful in providing information during your meeting, but ultimately Alexa and similar are always listening, which could result in your sensitive discussions being recorded. After all, data is a currency!
“Though businesses seem to be welcoming voice technology with open arms, there are also high levels of concern (80%) regarding the ability for businesses to keep the data acquired through voice-based technology safe.” Survey by Pindrop, 500 IT and business decision-makers in the U.S., France, Germany and the U.K
AI in the Workplace
Alexa for Hospitality has already been placed in Marriot Hotels, allowing guests to order room service, request housekeeping, book spa treatments, play music and adjust the lighting and temperature in their rooms.
“We recognised that voice-first experiences have become an increasingly important channel for our guests” Tracey Schroeder, Marriott’s Vice President of Global Consumer Public Relations
In the US, Amazon Echo technology is being installed in Safeco Field, home to the Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball team in Seattle, Washington. The Echo devices allow patrons to ask for scores or order food.
Peter Otto, Director Product Strategy & Design at Condeco, has been toying with the idea of Amazon’s Alexa in the workplace, recently showcasing a prototype Alexa integrating with our own meeting room booking systems.
Clearly, all manner of businesses see the benefit of AI assistants in the workplace – but only time will tell just how useful we’ll find them.