Almost two years ago, during one of my catch-up conversations with Scott Manuel from Thomson Reuters, I first heard of Alexa, the intelligent personal assistant service of the Amazon Echo. Scott said, “Trust me, you’ve got to get one of these.” His job is to investigate emerging technologies and determine if they can be impactfully implemented at Thomson Reuters. His “trust me” was all I needed to go pre-order my first Echo.
Once I got it set up, I quickly became dependent on this little black tower in my kitchen. When I had my hands in a bowl of raw chicken, I could say, “Alexa, add kosher salt to the shopping list.” “Alexa, what is on my calendar tomorrow?” “Alexa, play holiday music.” “Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes.”
My love of Alexa only grew from there. I added another Alexa in my master bathroom so I can listen to the news or add things to my to do list while getting ready. Because of my infatuation with Alexa, I started using “Hey Siri” in my car to read and write text messages, hear what’s next on my calendar, and get directions to my next stop.
A few weeks ago, when my family was in town for the holidays, Alexa’s power became even more intriguing to me. Four of the ten people staying in my house were under six years old. One evening, when the laughter and screams had reached ear-piercing levels, my dad called the four grandkids into the kitchen and sat them in a circle on the floor. He put Alexa in the middle of the circle and said, “Alexa, play the animal game.” They spent a good twenty-three minutes thinking of an animal and then answering questions from Alexa so that she could guess it.
Clearly, life at home will never be the same again. There was something about that moment that opened my mind to what Alexa (and of course Siri and all of the other competitors) could do for us.
Fast forward to our company trip last week. I had the pleasure of hearing again from Scott. He joined us one evening for a “fireside chat” about technology trends. The conversation touched on everything from augmented reality to blockchain to the democratization of IT. I furiously took notes to capture all the thoughts they were tossing around and the resulting ideas swirling in my head.
One thought that has really stuck with me is Scott’s assertions that Alexa will change the way we work. Specifically, he said, “Alexa has set expectations on professional life.”
I started daydreaming about what Alexa could do for me if she were just a little smarter and more knowledgeable about my job.
“Alexa, search my notes from meetings over the last year with John Doe for any comments related to his financial reporting systems.”
“Alexa, please provide me company overview information on ABC, Inc. including any first connections we have on LinkedIn to executives there.”
“Alexa, take our six-person group through a prioritization exercise to determine topics for our meeting.”
Think about it. It isn’t that far away. Look at how far we’ve come on the home front in the last few years and play that forward in the world of work.
We live in a fun time. And I can’t wait for what’s next.