The Perfect Response to Questions about A.I. Assistants

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by Julia Hawkins | CEO & Co-Founder of Cabinet

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What I imagine many assistants get asked on a regular basis is what they think of A.I. assistants. This is an excellent question, but my goodness, do people really think our answer is going to be: “They are great. I can retire early!”? The truth is, A.I. assistants are not assistants; they are tools. The term ‘A.I. assistant’ is a giant misnomer.

In my journey this past year starting a technology business for assistants, many non-assistants have asked me to address the rise of A.I. assistants. Since my business aims to connect real assistants around the world, friends, family, and interested parties worry whether my business will be around in five years. Because I used to be an assistant and feel passionately about empowering them, I have spent hours crafting a perfect response to this question. I thought I would share it with you if you find yourself also at a loss for words.

Part I: A.I. Assistants are great because they validate that everyone wants an assistant

Let’s be honest, even assistants want their own assistant. As a result, assistants often support multiple people, meaning we are pulled in many directions and asked to do a lot. Our to-do lists make the Iliad look like a short story.

Since it’s not possible for companies to hire assistants for everyone, technology companies have tried to provide basic assistant-like support at a fraction of the cost to people without them. This is where A.I. technologies have come into play.

Part II: A.I. Assistants are not used by executives

Most of the people using A.I. assistants are people who have never had a real assistant. They are entrepreneurs or budding managers whose time is becoming constrained in new ways, and whose budgets are limited. So, they download a tool that can help them shave a few minutes every day on a specific task. The tools that focus on one specific task, like scheduling, have managed to stay alive. The ones that have tried to tackle the complex jobs of assistants have shut down.

Part III: A.I. cannot replace assistants, but it can make them better!

Google announced all of Google Assistant’s new skills acquired in 2018, and scheduling and travel management didn’t even make the list. However, restaurant booking and buying movie tickets did. As did reading kids bedtime stories. This makes me wonder—why didn’t Google call the technology Google Nanny?

In all seriousness, artificial intelligence, or the ability for technologies to learn and make better decisions, will augment every job in the future. In a recent blog post, Julie Perrine, the CEO of All Things Admin, runs through a lengthy list of fields where A.I. is already making a difference, and the job of assistants are no different. A.I. can help assistants do their job better by helping them complete low-cognitive work quickly. “How much time do you waste today on repetitive tasks that could be automated with the right tools?”, asks Perrine.

So, will A.I. replace your job as an assistant? No. But it will definitely change it. Imagine all of the time you could spend on bigger problems facing your leaders and organization if tools could help you with your more monotonous, time-consuming tasks.

Do you want to learn more about technologies that can help you work faster? Join the conversations assistants are having on Cabinet. We are building a social network for assistants to discuss cutting-edge admin technologies, business travel recommendations and so much more.


Julia Hawkins is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cabinet. Prior to Cabinet, she was an executive assistant at a venture capital firm. She studied public policy at Duke University and received an MBA from Cornell University. Julia lives in New York City with her cat, Lego.

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