When Amazon designed ts Echo Device, it was mostly advertised and thought for home usage. When I got mine, I had it in office for a couple of days, and I was really liking it. I was using it to set reminders of what I need to for today, listen to Ted Talks, and so on. All small things, but I was pretty much trying to make it part of my office.
That one week gave me a clear idea that Amazon’s Alexa can go to the office, instead of just playing housewife, if Amazon decides to do something. This happened today. Amazon has announced Alexa for Business. Amazon says
It’s a new service that enables businesses and organizations to bring Alexa into the workplace at scale. Alexa for Business not only brings Alexa into your workday to boost your productivity, but also provides tools and resources for organizations to set up and manage Alexa devices at scale, enable private skills, and enroll users.
It’s a brilliant, and timely move by Amazon before anybody else did. The closest competitor to Amazon Echo devices or Alexa is Google Assistant, and it still hasn’t rolled out globally yet, while Amazon has started quickly rolling out its services in other countries, and it makes sense now. Amazon was getting ready for business, and now its expanding.
On the other hand, Cortana is still staying back on the PC, and might be waiting for the Amazon-Microsoft deal to get her out!
Features that you can expect:
Custom Alexa Skills for Office:
This is going to be the driving force for Business. Depending on how things go around in the office, and where the Echo device is placed, routines can be built, access can be granted to individual devices or users, let them use it.
May I help you:
We have seen these in movies where a smart screen could tell me what is where, and how I can go there. Alexa should be able to do that with a custom skill. It can open conference room, tell directions around the office and so on.
Calling, Messaging, and Conference Calls
Alexa is already capable of making calls to echo devices, and with its impressive 7 array microphone, it can be one of the most affordable and feature rich conference machine.
- It will be able to join any meeting with a conference call number via voice from home, work, or on the go.
- Quickly check calendars, help schedule meetings, manage to-do lists, and set reminders.
- Alexa can help find information in popular business applications like Salesforce, Concur, or Splunk.
Nothing moves in with Admin Permissions:
That’s the number one thing any company will need, and Amazon had made sure Alexa is ready for that. Here are some of the controls available to administrators:
- Provision & Manage Shared Alexa Devices: You can provision and manage shared devices around your workplace using the Alexa for Business console. For each device, you can set a location, such as a conference room designation, and assign public and private skills for the device.
- Configure Conference Room Settings: Kick off your meetings with a simple “Alexa, start the meeting.” Alexa for Business allows you to configure your conference room settings so you can use Alexa to start your meetings and control your conference room equipment, or dial directly from the Amazon Echo device in the room.
- Manage Users: You can invite users in your organization to enroll their personal Alexa account with your Alexa for Business account. Once your users have enrolled, you can enable your custom private skills for them to use on any of the devices in their personal Alexa account, at work or at home.
- Manage Skills: You can assign public skills and custom private skills your organization has created to your shared devices, and make private skills available to your enrolled users. You can create skills groups, which you can then assign to specific shared devices.
- Build Private Skills & Use Alexa for Business APIs: Dig into the Alexa Skills Kit and build your own skills. Then you can make these available to the shared devices and enrolled users in your Alexa for Business account, all without having to publish them in the public Alexa Skills Store. Alexa for Business offers additional APIs, which you can use to add context to your skills and automate administrative tasks.
Alexa for Business can provision 25 devices at a time which includes connect them to your Wi-Fi network, and register them with your Alexa for Business account
After assigning locations for the Echo devices, Admin can go to the Skills menu option and enable skills. After he has enabled skills, he can add them to a skill group and assign the skill group to my rooms.
To allow a user to use Alexa for Business within an organization, you invite them to enroll their personal Alexa account with the service by sending a user invitation via email from the management console.