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Voice Assistants Improve Small Business Productivity

Small Business Technology Tip - Dave Pelland
Dave Pelland Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Voice Assistants Improve Small Business Productivity

Voice Assistants Improve Small Business Productivity

As voice assistants in our phones, smart speakers and other voice-powered applications and services gain momentum, the technology is providing a growing range of ways for small business owners to increase their business and personal productivity.

Smart speakers are, for example, becoming more popular in many consumers’ houses. And as more consumers discover the convenience of dictating tasks or searching with voice commands, they’re looking to bring those functions into the workplace as well.

Voice-powered tools, such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are being integrated into speakers, smartphones, laptops, cars, appliances and a growing range of other devices.

While no single voice command is likely to boost your productivity by itself, smart speakers and voice assistants offer a variety tools that collectively help you carry out routine tasks more easily and free up time for higher-value business activities.

Digital Assistance

Voice assistants are playing a growing role in helping small business owners and team members carry out administrative tasks and manage information more efficiently. Dictating an email or a document is generally faster than typing it, and more software tools are offering the ability to interact via voice as well as with a keyboard.

Voice assistants offer integrations with a variety of business productivity platforms, including email, calendars, CRM and project management tools. These integrations allow users to interact with the software through voice commands and dictating content.

For example, you can have your email messages read aloud, or you can hear just the senders and subject lines of your latest messages. You can check for messages from a specific sender, or ask to be alerted with someone responds to a given message. You can also dictate and send emails, freeing your hands from the keyboard and opening time that could otherwise be lost, such as in the back seat of a ride-sharing car.

Integrating a voice assistant with your calendar program allows you to have your day’s schedule read aloud, or to ask when your next meeting is taking place. You can also use the software to schedule meetings. Asking your voice assistant to schedule a meeting with Karen, for instance, tells the software to check her schedule for a suitable time and to send the appropriate meeting invitations.

Your voice assistant can also perform dictated math problems. Asking an assistant to multiply 65 by 9, for instance, is faster and easier than launching a calculator app or entering an equation into a search-engine box.

Other popular integrations that can save time and effort include ordering coffee or meals, or booking ride-sharing services.

Dedicated Business Services

As voice assistants gain business momentum, some business-specific services are reaching the market. Amazon’s Alexa for Business platform, for instance, combines shared devices in common areas (such as conference rooms, lobbies or kitchens) with devices in team members’ workspaces.

The service is designed to handle common scheduling tasks, such as booking meeting rooms. A team member could, for example, ask Alexa to find an open room, or book a room for 90 minutes next Tuesday. As the meeting starts, voice commands can perform tasks such as launching videoconference equipment or a conference call, dimming the lights and starting a projector.

As voice assistants continue to gain acceptance, the range of business-specific tools is likely to grow as well.

Read other business articles by Dave

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