Do Virtual Assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant Have a Place in the Office

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by Mark Rosch | January 9, 2018

If you have any interest in technology, you’ve probably been seeing and hearing a lot in the past few months about “virtual assistants,” “voice assistants,” or “smart speakers” like Amazon’s Alexa and Echo, and Google Home (regular and Mini) and the battle for the “smart home.” Many of you might be considering a logical next step – “how can these products’ functions be extended to the workplace?”

Some ways virtual assistants could help you be more productive at the office:

  • Scheduling: Both Alexa and Google Assistant integrate with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars. So, you can use them to check your upcoming appointments, get audio reminders, or to create new events.   Third party services like, FreeBusy Scheduling Assistant allow you to coordinate meetings with multiple people, whether they’re inside or outside of your organization.
  • Documents: Alexa can integrate with Google Drive to allow you to create (and edit) documents.  I’m not sure I’d want to edit an existing document purely via voice, however. Creating short notes, or to do lists with voice commands (as a reminder or tickler) could be very useful.
  • E-mail: Alexa can use Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant to integrate with Gmail and Microsoft Exchange-based email accounts to read your email messages out loud (and to delete messages with voice commands).

For the first time in many years, Google will return to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a booth presence. Since Amazon will also have a presence at CES, there will probably be some announcements that might make some additions to this list, such as time tracking and dictation. Amazon may have already fired the first salvo with the announcement of Alexa For Business in November.  

Once synced with an office calendar, Alexa For Business can reportedly be used to start (previously scheduled) phone or video conference calls via a voice command.

Subscription fees for Alexa For Business are $7/month per device plus an additional $3/month per user.

As with any technology, lawyers should be aware of potential privacy send/or security issues when using virtual assistants like these. Wired magazine has compiled a useful overview of "What Amazon Echo and Google Home Do With Your Voice Data.”

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