Artificial intelligence is already on the verge of revolutionizing business as various enterprises have taken the initiative to adopt this technology within their systems. Previously, self-directed systems were perceived as a threat to society, but nowadays, the world is slowly learning to embrace changes that can be beneficial to any industry (“Top 5 trends”, n.d.,). That is why it is crucial to analyze some trends in artificial intelligence that are being adopted by many businesses for better functioning, in particular, the implementation of Evie.ai, its functions, and the consequences.
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One of the most successful examples of applying AI to the business sphere is the implementation of Evie.ai. Evie is “an artificially intelligent scheduling assistant who helps coordinate meetings and calls with others” (“Evie”, n.d., para. 1). Evie leads all the negotiations, monitors the participants, sends out invitations and reminders on the day of the meeting. In other words, Evie helps to save time and space to work on important things.
A businessperson Lee Jin Hian created Evie because his work had a global character as his boss was based in the US, the engineering team was in Singapore, and his stakeholders were from New York to Sydney. That is why scheduling meetings that could accommodate all his partners was incredible trouble for him. As a result, he spent a lot of his time on schedules, leaving less time for his actual work. He also understood many other executives were or would suffer from the same painful point of organizing meetings in different time zones.
Jin Hian expected that soon, Al personal assistants or even Al employees would not be a rare sight in the workplace. In 2014, he decided to create a robot called Evie, which would imitate human behavior (Hio, 2016). In 2016, Evie.ai successfully secured seed funding from a Singapore-based venture capital firm that focused on investing in local early-stage start-ups, especially those involved in financial technology, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.
The Essence of Evie.ai and its Business Model
In its core, Evie is a working set of rules and principles, carefully designed and woven together with software that allows the virtual planning assistant to understand and respond to natural human speech. Evie is also able to distinguish between meeting invitations to attend and meeting invitations to ignore. Thus, the creators had to take into account the implicit social norms that naturally came to us as cultured people, but not logically related machines and software.
Evie was designed to increase productivity by reducing the time and effort spent to coordinate multiparty meetings in large enterprises (Soo, 2016). Employees of these organizations were more likely to coordinate the work of several people in several time zones than employees in small units. In addition to helping clients organize meetings, Evie.ai is also able to find free conference rooms and book them for the meeting. Moreover, it is easy to integrate Evie into existing enterprise systems, and apply when users already grant permissions to access to these applications, and when meeting room schedules are also already in the cloud. However, some critical issues and processes have to be resolved before companies will be ready to implement Evie.
Problems of Evie.ai
The creators of Evie.ai have faced and still encounter some challenges. First of all, from a technological perspective, not every sector is ready for virtual assistants like Evie. For example, most companies in the banking and insurance sectors did not use cloud services extensively and, as such, were not optimally prepared for Evie. Second, Evie’s team had to consider the influence of culture, the most prominent of which was the notion of time as it is valued differently in different cultures. Another cultural difference is related to the attitude to work; for example, in Asia, many users seem to be less concerned with productivity and instead prioritize the hours set in the office. In other words, it was more important for these users to be present in the office even during off-hours, rather than being productive during the agreed working hours.
Another question concerns the social consequences of having a personal assistant, virtual or otherwise. Some users felt that using the Evie projected a certain image. In particular, they were concerned that using a computer program – to the extent that Evie seemed human – to schedule meetings with peers or even their bosses would have social and professional consequences. Some felt that the interaction and correspondence involved in making appointments were useful for establishing rapport, and worried that using Evie might portray them as distant and transactional. On the other hand, some felt that the use of Evie could project a positive image of the user as someone tech-savvy, professional, and meticulous about keeping time and punctuality.
Summary of Future Work Design and Jobs
The growth of AI including the implementation of Evie.ai requires a new human-machine symbiosis, which represents a shift in the division of labor between machines and humans. In other words, machines should take care of everyday tasks, allowing people to focus on more creative work. Thus, artificial intelligence will oust manual labor in doing daily routine, starting from scheduling meetings and ending with producing goods in factories, while people will maintain the role of decision-makers.
Ethical Use of AI
It is crucial for businesses to take ethical and responsible approaches when implementing AI systems because the industry is already beginning to see a backlash against artificial intelligence that deals with ethical issues. That is why to ensure the ethical use of AI, companies should measure the effect of AI use by developing different means and approaches and be transparent about how they use AI. Moreover, business should be as open as possible by sharing data and other relevant information, protecting personal information and ensuring data security.
Future of Evie.ai and Recommendations
Evie.ai has registered more than 3,000 users in 48 countries (SingTel myBusiness, n.d.). Jin Hian and his team seek to create more local opportunities in Evie’s offerings to be less dependent on off-the-shelf solutions. Furthermore, Evie’s functions and scenarios will be expanded so that it could perform other corporate functions, such as financial and human resources management. This can include tasks such as applying for a vacation or booking a flight.
Besides, Evie’s functions to work with messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, will be extended. Adding message app integration will make Evie more accessible to users who prefer this way of communicating to email. As for the threats for the increased level of unemployment because of Evie.ai, Jin Hian and his team emphasized that Evie is not here to take away jobs but to increase social opportunities and increase productivity (Safi, 2017). It allows people to focus on other things that matter as the world continues to evolve and forget about problems with scheduling.
Evie.ai is one of the most critical innovations in the field of business in recent times. It performs many different functions, such as scheduling meetings and reminding about them, which makes life easier for business people and allows them to plan their time more efficiently. However, the employment landscape changes are inevitable as more technologies and tools are used to solve tasks previously performed by people. That is why it is crucial to draw people’s attention to more essential and global things.
Evie | The team behind the Al assistant for the intelligent enterprise. (n.d.). Web.
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Hio, L. (2016). Creating a scheduling assistant called Evie powered by artificial intelligence. The Straits Times. Web.
Safi, M. (2017). Because we’re bad at managing our schedules, 2 ex-Yahoo dudes created an AI assistant to help us. Vulcan Post. Web.
SingTel myBusiness. (n.d.). Can Al really revolutionise SME business? Evie.ai thinks so. Web.
Soo, Z. (2016). Singapore start-up creates virtual assistant to schedule meetings. South China Morning Post. Web.