fbpx

Booking meetings used to be the bane of my life.  With the delivery of projects, internal project meetings, client engagements, managing my team and building a pipeline my diary management was a mess and a pain to organise.

Organising each meeting tends to generate a flurry of emails all of which takes time and distracts me from more important work.

I have had a couple of attempts at solving this as I figured I can’t be the only one with this issue and there must be a solution.

As you may be aware I’m a fan of outsourcing and I think there are various processes that can be outsourced from, basic repetitive tasks, to specialised tasks.  In fact, you could say The Exponential Agency is a specialist outsource partner helping businesses survive and thrive in the digital age.

Scheduling meetings fit into the basic repetitive task category and about 18 months ago I started looking into solving this problem. And as a Tim Ferriss fanboy using his advice from The  Four Hour Work Week book I looked at using a Virtual Assistant.  At the time there were only a couple of options, some smaller NZ companies (charge ~$50-$60 per hour) or the largest VA firms in the US and Asia (US$9-$20 per hour).    I ended up testing one of the major global players My Tasker.  However, the service didn’t quite work, for me, the learning curve was too steep and I felt I would have to commit too much effort to get the results I wanted.

Luckily for me, The Exponential Agency has gained some real momentum, but that means the need to find a solution has become ever more pressing.

Things have changed in 18 months. NZ companies that offer VA work, have moved from a few to at least a couple of dozen today.  The busy international market now looks even busier.  However, there was an interesting addition to the mix – Artificial Intelligence (AI).

And while the field is still in its infancy there is new investment being put into building an AI Scheduling assistant with X.ai raising another $23m and Mimetic in Singapore also getting a chunk of funding.

With the choice of a human VA and a digital solution, the digital option seemed the logical choice as we have built the company in the cloud and is the world that The Exponential Agency operates in. And I just like playing with this stuff.

So, for the past month, I’ve been testing two AI digital assistants Amy (she also has a brother in the business Andrew) and Evie.

How does it work

  • They can organise anything that needs scheduling via email. Meetings, lunches, interviews, international calls, she’ll even do the time zone math when necessary.
  • I just cc her on an email and ask her to set up a meeting, and then she takes it from there (see the example below).
  • She reads natural language – you just write to here as you would a real EA. “Evie can you book a meeting with Tony, Evie can you book a call next Wednesday etc.”
  • Evie is still on her trial period, however, I can get her the evie@theexponential.agency email address and she will communicate from my business email, just like a human

So, what have I found?

  • Firstly, they are amazing value at ~$20 per month for organising unlimited meetings.
  • At the moment, their performance is good but not great. I’m really aware that I have picked this up early in the lifecycle and I’m willing to go through a bit of pain to see how it pans out, and to witness the speed of improvement
  • There are two reactions from people that Evie arranges meetings with, the first is they don’t really know she is AI and are happy to set up a meeting, and those that are taken aback by her doggedness to get the meeting set.
  • Unfortunately, after a very short trial, I had to let Amy go, her set-up wasn’t quite right for me. It was ok I because Evie was all too willing to help and she is working out perfectly.
  • More importantly, I have easily saved four plus hours in the last week alone using this service, and it allows me to work on the high-value work.

There are a few conclusions I have can come to with my short time with Evie

  • AI is real, it is growing fast. What might not be perfect today will be mind-blowing and mainstream in 12-18 months time
  • Outsourcing at the lower end of tasks generally happens from transferring jobs from higher paid to lower cost economies. Tomorrow outsourcing will bypass the lower cost economies and straight to the Evie’s of the world.
  • At the other end of the scale if you have problems or opportunities you can’t capitalise on give us a call or I could get Evie to find a time

And for you personally 

  • If you look at your menial tasks there are amazing productivity gains to be made by using outsourcing and AI. (Bill Gates has some interesting views on how robots will completely change the workforce and government tax take).
  • On the downside, be warned there is a risk of you becoming obsolete. You need to be asking yourself – ‘what are you doing to continually differentiate yourself and ensuring you are a Linchpin’ (thanks, Seth)

Give her a try – you can get a one month free trial at https://www.mimetic.ai/

KS

_______________________________________________________

From: kursten@theexponential.agency
Sent: Thursday, 20 April 2017 7:06 p.m.
To: Tony Smith
Cc: evie@mimetic.ai
Subject: Re: Catch up next week

Hi Tony

As per our conversation this afternoon it will be good to catch up either Wednesday or Thursday next week.

Evie: can you please organise with Tony. I’m happy to meet at Major Sprout 23 Graham Street

Thanks.

Kursten

_______________________________________________________

From: evie@mimetic.ai [mailto:evie@mimetic.ai]
Sent: Monday, 24 April 2017 9:04 a.m.
To: Tony Smith
Cc: kursten@theexponential.agency
Subject: Re: Catch up next week

Hi Tony,

I just wanted to follow up regarding the meeting with Kursten on:

  • Wednesday, 26 April at 2pm NZST or
  • Thursday, 27 April at 2pm NZST
  • Location: Major Sprout 23 Graham Street

Please let me know which of these times work, or if you’d like to suggest a different time.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Evie

An AI Scheduling Assistant
Get Your Own Assistant at mimetic.ai

_______________________________________________________

From: Tony Smith
Date: Monday, 24 April 2017 at 9:13 AM
To: Evie <evie@mimetic.ai>
Subject: RE: Catch up next week

Thursday at 2 pm is ideal.  See you then.

_______________________________________________________

From: <evie@mimetic.ai> on behalf of Evie <evie@mimetic.ai>
Reply-To: Evie <evie@mimetic.ai>
Date: Monday, 24 April 2017 at 9:15 AM
To: <Tony Smith>
Cc: <kursten@theexponential.agency>
Subject: Re: Catch up next week

Hi Tony,

Thank you! The meeting is confirmed for Thursday, 27 April at 2pm NZST at Major Sprout (23 Graham Street ).

I have sent out a calendar invite for your convenience.

Thank you,

Evie

An AI Scheduling Assistant
Get Your Own Assistant at mimetic.ai