Offices are experimenting with Alexa for Business to help with conference calls, scheduling meetings and ordering office supplies
Alexa, you’re hired!
Amazon’s intelligent personal assistant device that lets you control your smart home, play music and get the news and weather — all without lifting a finger — is making its way into the office. This includes WeWork coworking spaces.
The ecommerce and tech company said this week that its Alexa For Business voice service was now fully ready for in-office use four months after initially launching. Amazon is encouraging companies to use voice commands to complete simple tasks like booking conference rooms, ordering office supplies, reporting tech issues and finding directions.
“In just a few months, our customers have built hundreds of private skills that help voice-enabled employees do everything from getting internal news briefings to asking what time their help desk closes,” Amazon’s chief technology officer, Werner Vogels wrote in a blog post.
One major plus Alexa For Business offers is dialing right into a conference call, and starting the meeting for you. Amazon created a function that lets you say “Alexa, start my meeting,” an alternative to searching for conference call-in numbers and getting everyone on the line. The device also syncs with work calendars and business applications like Concur and Salesforce, and of course, like your at-home Alexa, you can control the temperature and dim the lights, which are useful for presentations.
Similarly to how developers can build skills for Amazon Echo users, businesses can also create Alexa skills for use within their own company, like enabling voice access to an employee directory, company calendar information or Salesforce data.
While it remains to be seen how many companies adopt Alexa for Business, if consumer demand is any indication, it could be many. Last year, Amazon was the go-to for 70.6% of all voice-enabled speaker users in the U.S. – ahead of Google Home’s 23.8% and smaller competitors like Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel, who combined only account for 5.6% of users, according to a new forecast from eMarketer. In 2017, 35.6 million Americans used voice-activated device at least once per month, the firm estimates – a 128.9% over 2016. And Amazon Alexa is predicted to be a $10 billion business by 2020 alone.
Similar smart assistants that could compete with Alexa For Business include voice assistants like integration with G Suite and Microsoft Office from Google and Microsoft.
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