Do you use a digital assistant (such as Amazon’s Echo) in your office? If so, which product or products do you use?
DK: I’ve used an Amazon Echo for personal and business work for several years. I’ve considered adding an Apple HomePod into the mix, but have held off on making that move. I would use both. The effectiveness of the Echo and the constantly improving and evolving Alexa platform has met my requirements.
AP: I do use Google Assistant on my phone, smartwatch, and the Google Home device.
GS: We have provided Amazon Echo Dots to anyone in the firm who is interested.
On a day to day basis how/what do you use your digital assistant for?
DK: I love using my Echo for reminders and alarms. I can set a reminder for a few minutes before a call and always be on time or I can set a timer to measure a set time for focused work. I’ve also found that the Echo’s ability to play music that matches my mood or need, such as concentration, has been surprisingly helpful. Alexa also does a great job of answering simple research questions and giving me the news, weather, and traffic on demand.
AP: Mostly for basic info. Traffic, weather, next appointment, news, etc. I did start using the assistant for timekeeping (the Taki App which integrates with Clio), but for the moment, the voice recognition is not good enough to identify the clients/matters when I shout at Google to bill someone.
GS: So far, I’m mainly using the Dot to check my Outlook calendar, to dial my phone, and to listen to music in the office.
If you could add an additional feature to your digital assistant what would that be?
DK: Because the Echo is a platform as well as a device, its uses continue to grow and evolve with the development of new “skills.” I’m pretty happy, but more ability to customize responses to correct mistakes would be great. If there is something that Alexa repeatedly misinterprets, like a name, it would be great to easily fix that mistake so it does the right thing going forward.
AP: The ability to directly integrate with Clio and tap into the tasks/matters so I can instruct it to do stuff in the PMS.
GS: We are hoping our timekeeping software ends up integrating with the Echo. We also would like to use it as a dictation assistant as well and eventually develop apps to allow our clients to be interviewed by an assistant to help us gather information for their matters.
Any advice for individuals not currently using a digital assistant? A word of caution?
DK: I usually tell people to ask, “What am I hiring the device to do for me?” It’s also important to know that what one person finds very appealing will not matter in the least to someone else. You will want to research the uses and see what it might actually help you with. Look at the Tali service and see what it calls “conversation time tracking.” While you do need to be thoughtful about data collection and security issues around any device connected to the internet, likely including your car these days, I would caution not to overweight potential negatives against potential benefits. Even the most skeptical will probably be won over by some of the utility of these assistants, especially as they continue to evolve.
AP: Start by using it for personal needs. Shopping, travel, traffic, weather, calendar, calls, news, etc. Once you’re comfortable with how it works and it has learned to recognize your voice well, start looking at work-related add-on functions.
GS: A lot has been written about privacy concerns with digital assistants and lawyers should at least stay informed. But these products aren’t going away and lawyers should start exploring how they can be incorporated into their practices. They’re cheap and there are several platform choices so one can shop around.