Well, we are a few weeks into 2018 and I have seen a ton of articles, opinion pieces and social media messages about technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence, taking over the role of Assistants. I can understand the cause for concern because so many of us are still battling with the perception of the Assistant role. Who wants to be explaining the difference between our role and what Siri can offer Executives? Urrrggghhhh! And of course there are going to be organisations that think they can downsize their administrative work force and replace it with chatbots and scheduling tools. We have to be prepared, to firstly have these conversations, because as far as we have come, we are still having to explain what we do and where we offer return on investment. Secondly, we have to be ahead of the game. The technology is already in place and it is getting better and better. We have to know what the technology is, how to use it and where it adds value for our Executives and also for us. This is a subject we are talking about extensively during the Future Assistant Conference in February and we will be writing a lot of articles on Practically Perfect PA over the next year. So, I thought today we would take a look at scheduling tools that Assistants can use to help arrange meetings. Here are 4 scheduling tools to try in 2018.
Calendly is a very simple website that allows other people to schedule meetings depending on your Executive’s availability. It integrates with all of the major calendars (Outlook, Google, iCal, etc.) so all you have to do is set up your Executive’s availability and let the other meeting attendees select their preferred time. So, when would you use this website? I personally think it is a brilliant tool to use when you are arranging say a series of one to one appointments or individual meetings with your Executive and their direct reports. Rather than speaking to the direct report, finding out their availability, checking it with your Executive’s calendar and then arranging the meeting, you can set up your Executive’s availability, send the direct report a link, get them to pick their preferred time and voila! You have the meeting in both diaries without you doing back and forth scheduling dance!
Time Zone Ninja
Again a really simple tool that helps you schedule international meetings. The interface on Time Zone Ninja is very easy to use, firstly, select your location and the location of your attendees, and then the meeting date and preferred time. Then press the ‘find the ninja hour’ button and the technology will produce a timetable with a selection of the best possible times for all of the attendees. This is a completely free app and it is super helpful when scheduling online meetings and conference calls.
Okay folks, people are calling this technology the ‘game changer’ of scheduling tools. Using artificial intelligence, x.ai takes away the toing and froing that comes with scheduling meetings. All you have to do is cc ‘Amy’ into any of your emails and ‘she’ (do I call technology… She?!?) will start to coordinate your meetings. Once you set up your preferences, the AI has all of the information required to schedule a meeting, and the more it is used, it will start to understand where best to place the meeting within your Executive’s schedule. This technology really is the future of scheduling and we are really lucky to have a member of the x.ai team speaking at the Future Assistant Conference in February.
Introduced to me by Jess at The Assistant Room, Accompany is a great product that brings your calendar and your contact management system together. Sign up with your Executive’s work email and Accompany will start to pull together profiles of all of the people and organisations that your Executive is meeting. The system will either let you look online or send through a briefing document the night before the meeting. You can look up last communications with the contact, their social media posts, news about them, articles they’ve written and financial reports attached to the organisations and a whole load more. Basically loads of useful stuff for your Executive to take into a meeting.