One may ask, what?s so great about robots? Well to put it simply, even the most advanced androids tend not to ask for salary rises or parental leave, they don?t get tired, they don?t have doctor?s appointments, they have better memories, they won?t seek acknowledgement or appreciation, and won?t get angry and frustrated when things go horribly wrong. In fact, we are lead to believe that the majority of the world?s jobs that are bound by procedures and protocols will become a job to be done by robots. The assistant role has been in the eye of this technological storm for the past 20 years, and survived as it?s evolved.
You would be forgiven for assuming that automation remains a threat to the executive assistant; as technological solutions advances ? as does the pressure on companies to cut costs, reduce headcount and flatten organisational structures. Unfortunately the number of assistants being used in the lower corporate levels has dropped as a result.
The role of technology in the work place along with the evolution of artificial intelligence has long been a topic of debate ?- how much is too much? Are we by default working to replace ourselves? The nature of an Executive assistant?s role in corporate environments means that a certain amount of technological streamlining cannot help but redefine their position in an organisation. Despite technological advances, executive assistants have adapted through methods of resilience and creativity in order to remain an indispensable entity. The duties of an EA have evolved, ironically 60% of administrative assistants are now responsible for acquiring office software as well as teaching their co-workers exactly how to operate them ? as Michael Corleone would say: ?Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?.
The ?mobile office? is another example of how technology is changing the role of the EA. Whether a business or organisation deals directly with other countries and economies, no longer defines their status as an international company especially for company executives. Through the internet everything has the potential to be known worldwide therefore EA?s are often now expected not only to work between time-zones, but also to be at the forefront of business developments and current affairs. Technological solutions in a more formal office environment allows for some of an assistant?s administrative tasks to become automated. The EA is now able to harness artificial intelligence to work in their favour – staying ahead of the game, and what?s more, maintaining their role as a key communicator within an organisation.
The way in which executive assistants make themselves indispensable is by ensuring that they understand the invisible/unspoken needs and characteristics of the their employer. The one facet of the role that technology will never be able to replace is that high level of emotional intelligence possessed by great assistants. The best assistants can perform duties that no software is capable of; Microsoft has yet to develop a programme that can put a hysterical strategy director?s mind at ease, or politely leave the room when appropriate.
Executive assistants give organisations a human fa?ade; they?re psychologists, diplomats, human databases, travel agents, mediators, and ambassadors. A real life executive assistant will bring deductive reasoning, emotional intelligence, a non-linear approach to work and life that is impossible for AI to achieve. That?s the bottom line.
Executive assistants are not just a vital factor, more importantly; they are an innovative role, essential for the future. We must not pit Executive assistants against technological progress, but rather combine forces with AI advancement.