Billing: Will Alexa help improve time keeping on 3E?

Thomson Reuters Elite’s announcement last week (4 May) that you can now use Alexa to record and post time on 3E went slightly under the radar but received some interesting feedback on social media, warranting a closer look.

To recap, Elite has launched Workspace Assistant, which is a new way for lawyers to access and perform time management functions via Workspace using Amazon Echo or other Alexa enabled devices. Workspace is a platform that provides users with access to Elite solutions from desktop browsers and mobile devices.

Users can now open timers for their matters with a voice command, start and stop timers as they work, post time to their files, and question Alexa over how much time has been entered over a week.

Fee-earners who have an Amazon Echo won’t have to stop what they’re doing to record their time, and the idea is that time recording will become much faster and more fluid.

It is still early days for the new technology, which will be showcased at Elite’s US Vantage conference in June. Elite has been running some promotions where it gives away Amazon Echos but as yet no law firms have signed up.

Speaking to Elisabet Hardy, vice president of global product management and marketing at Elite, it is clear that the new capability is to a great extent about showcasing innovation. Hardy said: “The thing that’s really cool about Workspace Assistant using Alexa is that it really shows what innovation and what the world of technology can look like really soon. Some stats out there show that most of us will do our work via voice command and the keyboard will virtually go away.

“We are using our voice to do different things and in future that’s how we will be doing a lot of our work.”

US management consultant and market commentator Ron Friedmann reacted on Twitter last week to our news of the release of Workspace Assistant saying: “Cool. Will voice improve timekeeping hygiene?”

Hardy thinks yes. “It will make it easier to do the time recording and in some cases faster. You can just start a timer by voice command and it’s very handy to just speak the narrative,” she says.

Elite has long enabled 3E users to enter time on their mobile using Siri, including the narrative, however Alexa takes it further, enabling a two-way interaction that Hardy says will develop further in time.

“In reality, probably as we develop Workspace Assistant it will become more useful as we add more skills and commands that you can use with 3E,” she says, adding: “But this is also to showcase innovation and to showcase the flexibility in our platform – we did not have to make a single change to the code to make it work with this new technology, which showcases the power of our tech stack.

“I was at a client site a few weeks ago and we showed it and it got a lot of attention. It’s cool technology and it shows how your interaction with software is evolving very fast. We used to think it was cool to add notes, then came some of the first smart phones then it was all about touchscreen and now it’s about voice command.

“For younger lawyers, having technology that evolves with the workforce is essential, and it’s moving at lightening speed.”

Users of Workspace Assistant will enjoy all the security benefits of 3E but the data privacy concerns around Alexa means it will inevitably become another item on the growing list of law firm security considerations.

Workspace Assistant is available to download from the Amazon Alexa Store. All comments welcome – will you use it?