Title Image Title Image
Home  >  PERSPECTIVES  >  Skip the Meeting, Not the Details: How AI Bots Are Redefining Workplace Efficiency

Blog

skip_the_meeting_featured

Skip the Meeting, Not the Details: How AI Bots Are Redefining Workplace Efficiency

Time allocation is crucial in distinguishing essential meetings from those we can afford to miss. As artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly shapes the future of the workplace, new AI platforms are emerging that record video calls, transcribe the audio and summarize these meetings in great detail. This innovation prompts a significant question: Can I skip the meeting?

Recently, I had an email exchange with Neil Perkin, an esteemed digital consultant and author renowned for his insights on agile transformation, business and marketing. I shared with him the transformative impact of a Zoom plug-in I’ve been utilizing, which records, transcribes and summarizes meetings mere seconds after a video call concludes.

“When will it be OK, for example, for an AI bot to attend a meeting and take notes on your behalf without you actually being there?”

Neil posed an intriguing question in a recent episode of his newsletter, “Only Dead Fish”—a newsletter that I highly recommend subscribing to. He asked, “When will it be OK, for example, for an AI bot to attend a meeting and take notes on your behalf without you actually being there?” This question guided the creation of this post. Thank you, Neil, for the inspiration.

My introduction to Fathom.video came through my one of clients whose project leads use this AI video recording platform to capture entire meetings. This allows them to revisit the meeting, review summary notes and even check transcription timestamps to watch specific parts of the video again. In addition to Fathom, there’s also Otter.ai, Fireflies.ai and Zoom, the latter of which has similar AI summary features built into its platform, and I’m sure many others will soon enter this space.

Recently, I conducted a series of interviews, ranging from 30 to 45 minutes long, with various company leaders and board members. Traditionally, balancing aggressive note-taking with attentive listening, especially while trying to capture key soundbites for strategic direction, presents a formidable challenge. This was manageable for one interview, but 10 presented a significant challenge. Prior to AI, accomplishing this would require recording the video call and uploading it to a third-party platform for transcription, which would then allow me to focus more on the conversation but still required days to sift through transcriptions, extract key quotes and summarize the discussions.

“Each of the 10 interviews were transcribed, summarized and organized by topic and bullet points within seconds after the calls ended.”

Fathom changed the game. Each of the 10 interviews were transcribed, summarized and organized by topic and bullet points within seconds after the calls ended. Not a detail was missed, and the summaries were instrumental in shaping my recommendations for how the brand and its messaging needed to evolve.

If I were working with a larger team who didn’t attend these calls or even a member of the client team, I could have easily shared links to the video, transcription and summary with them, enabling them to hear and see everything I did without missing a beat.

So, Can You Skip the Meeting?

When comparing Otter.ai to Zoom’s AI features, the Washington Post shared this perspective: “Colleagues—whether they were meeting participants—could follow along in real-time or catch up afterward. The transcript also includes screenshots of the speaker or speaker’s shared screen. Regardless of whether they were present at the meeting, colleagues could chat with attendees during the meeting on Otter’s platform or ask the bot questions like whether anyone specified deadlines. And if you can’t—or simply don’t want to—attend a meeting, you can schedule OtterPilot to go without you.”

However, as we’ve heard about with other AI platforms, there are certain challenges, such as mishearing words or not necessarily capturing the right sentiment, and these meeting bots are no exception (as was mentioned in the article, I also found that certain languages and accents made it hard for the platforms to understand what was said, which required me to go back to the video to clarify). The same article pointed to technical limitations when multiple people were speaking over one another.

The same Washington Post article raised the following questions about what consent looks like for attendees:

• Is the expectation that all meetings have the potential to be recorded and summarized?
• Will people be able to opt out?
• How will that data be used once it’s collected?
• Could the recording be used to evaluate someone’s performance and might that create reluctance for people to share what they think?

The article highlights the potential for diminished team engagement in meetings when dependency on these platforms increases. I concur. It’s been my observation during numerous Zoom calls that participants often divert their attention to read emails, respond to Slack messages, or engage in other distractions, rather than being fully dialed into the conversation.

To address the question of whether one can skip meetings, I believe the answer depends largely on the individual and the nature of the meeting—be it a routine status call or a high-level strategic discussion. Like with any emerging technology, the rapid rate of adoption often propels us—willingly or not—into uncharted territories.

Companies that integrate AI meeting bots into their operations must carefully consider policies regarding how workplace culture adapts to AI, the conduct of meetings, and the protection or deletion of information gleaned from these meetings. As we’ve seen with apps and our smart phones, we face a genuine risk of becoming overly dependent on technology. This is especially true as AI platforms become smarter and more integrated into our daily tasks.

I believe it is essential to self-regulate in order to prevent an excessive reliance on AI, thereby avoiding the loss of valuable context or networking opportunities that derive from actual conversations—or just simply missing out on the experience of speaking with a real person.

Questions? Email me here. As always, thank you for reading.