Monday 27 June 2016

A virtual personal assistant for meetings

A while ago I was poring over some news and heard about Amy, a virtual assistant from that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help schedule your meetings, calls, etc.

Once I was able to get on to the company's website and sign up for their beta program I got connected with with Amy. She easily took hold of my calendar and was able to start scheduling meetings and calls for me.

Amy takes care of the "back-and-forth" with potential meeting attendees, letting them know when you are available and working back and forth with them to find a suitable time, then setting up the meeting with all parties. You just get a meeting request from Amy once she has handled all the details.

At the start Amy was only able to work with my Google calendar, but as the program expanded she can now integrate with my Office 365 calendar, or an calendar. The company says they are working on integrating with an on-premise Exchange calendar, so expect that to come down the pipe at some point.

How did she do? Well, except for one occasion where I was trying to arrange lunch with a friend and he sent Amy the message "Klaatu verada nicto" she did fine. (My friend being a film buff with a sense of humour thought he would try the command to shut down the robot in "The Day The Earth Stood Still".)

It didn't shut down Amy, she just forwarded me his message and said she didn't know what to do with it do I should take over.  Not bad really.

Amy can coordinate meetings with up to 5 people at once, and you can tell her your preferences, where you like to meet for coffee, meals, etc. You can also indicate hours you are available and how available. (eg: tell her no in-person meetings on Mondays until after 10am so you can catch up at the office first.) She incorporates all this information in to a polite email to recipients with suggestions on when/where to meet.

You can coordinate with Amy by email, ask her for status updates or to book meetings on your behalf very easily. Having her take over scheduling is as simple as copying her in on an email with meeting recipients and saying "Amy please find a time for all of us to have a call."

The beta is still running so right now Amy and her alter-ego Andrew (for those who prefer a male assistant) are free. The company does intend to offer professional and enterprise licenses down the road but for the moment I'd suggest getting in on the beta while you can.

-The Home Geek

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