Your digital voice assistant may soon be ready to do more than play your favorite tunes while you work. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has announced the new Alexa for Business.
Alexa for business
Amazon says that the new service will allow you to bring Alexa to the workplace at a large scale.
More specifically, Tara Walker, Technical Evangelist for Amazon Web Services explains on the AWS News blog:
"Alexa for Business brings the Alexa that you know and appreciate at work to help all types of workers be more productive and organized on personal and shared Echo devices." In the workplace, shared devices can be placed in common spaces, and workers can use their personal devices to connect to work and home. "
So, what can you do with the new service?
Imagine that you start a staff meeting as easily as you would ask for information on the web. Just say "Alexa, start the meeting". Your virtual assistant takes care of the rest, launches video conferencing equipment, dials your conference call and arranges the meeting, Walker says.
Or you can use Alexa to straighten things around the desk. Use various "skills" of Alexa to find vacant conference rooms, keep track of building maintenance issues or order more supplies – like more ink for photocopiers.
With the Alexa Skills kit, developers will undoubtedly create thousands of features for the Alexa for Business platform, adding to the 25,000 skills already available for the Alexa home version.
Alexa for the administrators
Because services can be shared by many in the office, the new Alexa for Business also offers a variety of controls for administrators, says Amazon.
First, you can manage and provision shared devices. For example, a device may be used in the conference room and will have the "skills" required to run a meeting, as described above.
Then you can configure the settings. For example, set up a shared device in the conference room to run meetings with a simple voice command "Alexa, start meeting". And set up another near photocopiers or in the dining room to order more supplies, when prompted.
Administrators will also have the power to decide who can use shared devices. You will invite your team to register Alexa's personal accounts so that they can access Alexa for Business at work and allow them to utilize the customized skills needed to schedule meetings, report maintenance issues, and so on.
You can customize the private Alexa skills needed to manage office operations and use Alexa for Business APIs to automate administrative tasks in the office.
And, of course, you will be able to decide what public and private skills your team members have access to. For example, you could limit access to skills to replenish supplies to your office manager to prevent multiple people ordering extra printer paper or extra paper plates for the dining room at the same time .
Alexa and Echo at Work
What made Alexa so successful is the large number of skills that developers have created. And now that Alexia and Echo are entering the job market, there will undoubtedly be so many skills created, if not more.
When it is fully integrated with your enterprise system, you can expect to access directories, customer accounts, planning information, and so on. You will also always have the same access with Echo to control your environment, set reminders and timers, and ask questions.
What does this mean for your small business?
Simply put, it will mean a more efficient workplace. You will have a personal assistant who never sleeps or forgets, and keeps getting better. Alexa will allow you to focus on what you do best instead of worrying about dates, times, stocks and many other daily details about running a business.
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