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Back in November last year, just a short while after the launch of the Amazon Echo 2, Amazon announced Alexa for Business.
Amazon was planning to bring its Alexa virtual voice assistant, normally found in Echo smart speakers, to the workplace.
Reports indicate that Amazon is getting ready to officially launch Alexa for Business.
Since the announcement in November, Amazon has been hard at work testing how Alexa would work in offices and other business environments. Several companies including SalesForce, CapitalOne and WeWork have already integrated Alexa into some of their business systems.
With an official launch, Amazon is hoping to convince more enterprise customers to give Alexa for Business a try.
What Would Alexa for Business do?
There are numerous applications for Alexa within offices and commercial spaces. And just like at home, Alexa for Business is based on convenience and automation.
Here are some of the things Alexa might do (or is already doing).
- Setting up conference calls and automatically patching in participants.
- Sending voice notifications and updates to employees and coworkers via smart speakers.
- In-office calling. This would probably be similar to Alexa Calling and Messaging which allows Echo owners to call other Echos as well as landline numbers.
- Internal news briefings, ordering new office supplies, job training for new recruits etc.
These are just the basic functions. Amazon wants companies to use Alexa APIs to build private skills that can be used within the organization. So companies can create their own custom functionalities depending on what they need.
Already, the companies that have been experimenting with Alexa for business have built hundreds of skills.
Amazon is also planning to integrate Alexa into popular enterprise suites used for sales, recruitment, communication and so on. This would make it much easier for employees to get the information they want quickly and automate various tasks.
At the very top there would be an administrator with high-level permissions to control and monitor Alexa devices deployed within the organization. They can configure conference call settings, build and manage in-house skills and manage connected users.
It makes perfect sense that Amazon would consider bringing Alexa into the workplace. For one, they already have several enterprise applications through their AWS juggernaut.
Second and perhaps most importantly for Amazon, it is another front where they can go head to head with their biggest competitors.
Microsoft is an enterprise giant and they have already integrated Cortana in several office software. Google has G Suite and I’m sure they’ll find a way to bring Google Assistant into the mix soon.
Even Cisco has its own office voice assistant.
The market for office voice assistants is ripe with opportunities and no single company has yet to get a head start. But Microsoft and Google have an edge over Amazon considering their super popular software suites for businesses.
So Amazon could be rushing to win a lion’s share of the market early on. It’s the same thing they did with home assistants.
The more integrations they can make with office software and they more companies they convince to adopt Alexa for Business, the harder it will be for Google and Microsoft to win the market.
Of course it’s not a slam dunk for Amazon. One of the biggest obstacles they will face is privacy concerns. It is an issue with their home speakers and will be an even bigger issue in offices.
But if they succeed it will be yet another area where Amazon becomes the undisputed King.