As AI continues to advance and integrate into our daily lives, the landscape of traditional office administration is rapidly evolving. In this article, we'll discuss the impact of AI on secretarial work, how AI-powered tools are transforming office productivity, the use of AI for predictive maintenance and the future of the administrative assistant role.
The Changing Role of Secretaries in the AI Era
Historically, secretarial roles have been crucial to the smooth running of businesses, with professionals trained in typewriting, stenography, business correspondence, organizational systems, budgeting, finance, and cultural competence. As AI becomes more pervasive, the role of secretaries is expected to evolve to include managing AI tools and focusing on value-added tasks that AI cannot perform.
The Emergence of AI Personal Assistants
AI-powered personal assistants are automating many key duties, such as coordinating appointments, managing emails, organizing files, and producing reports. Numerous startups are developing AI personal assistants, including:
- x.ai: Their AI personal assistant, Amy (or Andrew), coordinates emails and has raised over $34 million in funding.
- Mimetic: Based in Singapore, their AI personal assistant, Evie, is available for $19.99 per month.
- Clara Labs: Raised $5 million in a second Seed VC round, offering AI personal assistant subscriptions ranging from $99 to $399.
- Microsoft: Acquired Silicon Valley startup Genee to integrate its AI personal assistant technology into the Microsoft 365 platform.
Other AI-based tools for office work include:
- Clarke.ai: An AI platform for taking notes during meetings and phone calls, with clients such as SAP and Deloitte.
- Knowmail: An AI personal assistant for Outlook that learns email habits and preferences.
- FileThis: Offers a document-as-a-service business model that assists with online filing for individuals and small businesses.
- filee: A German-based company that digitizes and organizes paperwork using a mobile app, email accounts, and cloud services.
Microsoft 365 Copilot: Revolutionizing Office Work
Microsoft recently announced an AI-powered Copilot for its Microsoft 365 apps and services, designed to assist users with generating documents, emails, presentations, and more. Powered by OpenAI's GPT-4, Copilot appears as a chatbot in the sidebar of various Office apps, allowing users to summon it for tasks like generating text in documents or creating PowerPoint presentations from Word documents. It even offers AI based personalization to carry forward different tasks.
Copilot's Capabilities and Applications
Copilot can be used across Microsoft Office apps, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Some of its features include:
- Drafting documents: Copilot can draft documents based on other files in Word, with AI-generated text that can be edited and adapted.
- Creating presentations: Copilot can create PowerPoint presentations based on Word documents or analyze and format Excel data.
- Transcribing meetings: In Microsoft Teams, Copilot can transcribe meetings, remind users of missed items, or summarize action items during a meeting.
- Managing emails: Copilot is available in Outlook to help users manage their emails, summarize email threads, and create draft responses with options to adapt the tone or length of an email.
The Copilot system combines Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with the Microsoft Graph of data and intelligence and GPT-4. Microsoft is testing its Microsoft 365 Copilot with 20 customers and plans to expand the preview in the coming months.
The Future of AI For Secretarial Work
While AI is unlikely to replace all secretaries and administrative assistants, it will undoubtedly change the nature of their work. Embracing new technology and focusing on value-added tasks will be crucial for success in the evolving administrative landscape. As AI becomes more integrated into the workplace, there is potential for colleges and universities to train students in valuable skills that AI cannot deliver, such as tactful communication, organization, and confidentiality management.
The Resurgence of Secretarial Roles as Trusted Advisors
Experts like Hollis Robbins, Dean of Humanities at the University of Utah, predict a resurgence of secretarial roles as trusted advisors and confidantes. AI-driven communication tools like ChatGPT will create a demand for secretaries who can efficiently screen calls and emails. These professionals will act as a productivity multiplier while also establishing cultural and professional norms, even in virtual workspaces.
Embracing the Human Touch
Although AI-powered personal assistants can perform many administrative tasks, they cannot replace the specialized and sensitive correspondence that only a human secretary can accomplish. An effective secretary is expected to review and process emails, manage relationships with colleagues, embody organizational norms, maintain records and documents, organize calendars, communicate delays or cancellations, ensure personal preferences are met, remember important dates, serve as a sounding board, and keep secrets.
Evolving Secretarial Titles
As the role of secretaries continues to evolve, alternative titles like "enterprise administrator" or "organizational attaché" might make the position more appealing. Regardless of the name, the need for human secretaries will likely persist in the AI-driven future.
Conclusion: Adapting to the AI-Driven Future of Secretarial Work
The integration of AI into office work is inevitable, and it presents both challenges and opportunities for secretarial professionals. By embracing AI tools, focusing on value-added tasks, and adapting to the evolving landscape, secretaries can thrive in their roles and continue to provide crucial support to businesses.
In conclusion, the future of AI for secretarial work will see a transformation of the traditional role of secretaries, with an increasing emphasis on managing AI tools and focusing on tasks that require the human touch. As AI-powered tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot become more prevalent, secretaries and administrative professionals must adapt to the changing landscape and leverage their unique skills to stay relevant and valuable in the workplace.