Getting the Most Out of Virtual Assistants


Virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Now have become a fixture in many people’s daily lives, helping them get driving directions, find phone numbers and search the Web using their voice.

Now a crop of savvy users have found ways to use those tools at work, too.

Virtual assistants can tackle a range of workplace tasks, such as scour emails for important information, send reminders about future appointments and set up meetings automatically. Thanks to big data and artificial intelligence, assistants are better able to understand the way people really communicate and are beginning to anticipate their needs.

According to Gallup, nearly two-thirds of working adults say they don’t have enough time in the workday to complete what they set out to do. Here’s a look at some of the ways people are using the fast-growing army of virtual-assistant bots to make their work lives more efficient.

Checking in with staff

Aimy Steadman, chief operating officer of BeatBox Beverages, an Austin, Texas, startup that sells boxed, wine-based cocktails, needs to ask her roughly 50-member sales team the same questions each day: What sales did you make? Which distributors did you check in with and what updates do you have from them?

Instead of having to remember to send out a daily email, she relies on a piece of artificial-intelligence software called Howdy to check in with her staff and get the information from them.

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