At the recent tech conference AWS re: INVENT 2017, Amazon announced “Alexa for Business service,” a move that tries to get Alexa into the corporate world. Thus far, voice based technologies like Alexa, Siri and Cortana were consumer novelties, and the response has been overwhelming.
Companies like Amazon are hoping that the ‘cool’ factor and consumer adoption will convince corporate leaders to bring Alexa enabled virtual assistants to their employees.
Amazon has visualized a variety of ‘user stories’ to engage and enable corporate users:
- Alexa helps you at your desk – Alexa can help you manage your schedule, keep track of your to-do list, and set reminders. Alexa can automatically dial into your conference calls and make phone calls for you.
- Alexa simplifies your conference rooms – Alexa lets you start meetings and control your conference room settings using your voice. With Alexa, you don’t need to use remote controls, look up conference call information, and manually dial in to meetings – you can simply say “Alexa, start my meeting”, and Alexa gets your meeting started. Alexa-enabled devices can act as audio conferencing devices in smaller conference rooms, or control equipment in larger rooms.
- Alexa helps you around the workplace – Alexa helps your workplace run more efficiently. By building your own custom Alexa Skills, you can easily voice-enable your workplace, and let Alexa help with common everyday tasks. Using your custom Alexa Skills, Alexa can provide directions, find an open meeting room, order new supplies, report building problems, or notify IT of an equipment issue. Alexa can also provide important information, like inventory levels, and help with on-the-job training.
- Alexa adds voice to your products and services – Alexa lets you add voice to your products and services so you can provide rich, personalized voice experiences for your customers. Alexa can help hotel guests feel comfortable, play their favorite music, and even order room service. Alexa can provide customers with valuable information about your product, and provide support when they run into problems. With Alexa, you can redefine the way your customers interact with your products and services.
Integrating Alexa into your Business
Amazon highlights examples of several large companies including BMC, Brooks Brothers, Capital One and WeWork that have been piloting Alexa for Business.
Amazon’s offering comes with enterprise-level security and manageability model, which should appeal to IT Architects and integration consultants. The company has also tied up with several technology companies (link) to integrate their solutions with Alexa for Business. These include Cisco, Polycom, WebEx, Zoom, Skype for Business, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, Google G-Suite, Salesforce, Concur, ServiceNow, RingCentral, Vonage etc.
Amazon’s platform offering is also an opportunity for Systems Integrators and startups :
- This is an opportunity for startups to leverage Alexa’s APIs and integrations to bring solutions to the market. APN Partners interested in listing their Alexa for Business product or solution must have achieved the Alexa for Business Service Delivery Designation through the AWS Service Delivery Program.
- Skills and training opportunities include public skills available in the Alexa Skills Store, and opportunities to develop and showcase customized skills.
- Consulting providers – Amazon is also supporting consulting providers and System Integration consultants that can help organizations deploy and configure Alexa for Business.
Voice based applications in enterprises continue to be a novelty. However, the demand from corporate users is certainly there. It is a matter of time before users get comfortable with voice activated user interfaces in their offices.