Amazon Announces Alexa for Business to Help Automate Conference Calls, Schedule Meetings and more
Gone are the days when your ideal business assistant was a human. The voice-activated software can already help you with a bunch of tasks and information better than a person, but with Amazon’s Alexa for Business virtual assistants at work are becoming a reality.
At the AWS re Invent Conference in Las Vegas, Amazon’s Werner Vogels announced Alexa for Business as a voice-activated assistant that can help automate tasks in a business environment. Amazon is already a leader in voice-assistant technologies with their Alexa software, which used to be, targeted at home assistance. Now, Alexa is to go into the business world, promising a convenient way to perform various tasks, such as scheduling meetings, controlling conference room equipment, making conference calls and working with other apps.
At Amazon, they explain their motivation for Alexa for Business as a natural extension of the business world. As they see it, “If the voice is the natural way of interacting in your home, with home automation and things like that, we were thinking why don’t we build something that you can actually use at work as well.”
Peter Hill, director of productivity applications at AWS, stresses that tens of millions of people already use Alexa in and out of home to answer questions and provide news or information. In his own words, Alexa for Business is a logical extension of the simplicity of voice control to the workplace.
What exactly can you use it for?
Alexa for business is meant to be used for handling all kinds of daily tasks in the workplace. It can keep track of finished and unfinished tasks, schedule meetings, order supplies, control conference room equipment.
You can also build custom, “private” skills for the specific purposes of your workplace, and Alexa is quick to learn. There are various ways in which it can help you manage schedules and help workers follow calendars. It can make phone calls, contact other departments, and search for and book conference rooms.
Moreover, other business applications have already been integrated with Alexa, and the list is growing. Right now, Alexa for Business can work with the apps from Splunk, Salesforce, Concur, RingCentral, SuccessFactors, ServiceNow, Polycom, Crestron, and Teem. In this way, Alexa’s functionality in the business world is growing at an impressive rate
Meetings and Conferences
The first context that Amazon thoroughly envisaged and tested was that of business meetings and conferences. Thus, it is probably the context in which you can count on Alexa excelling.
As Vogels states, you just need to say “Hey Alexa, start the meeting,” and your virtual assistant is on. It will know what room you are in and what kind of meeting it is according to the schedule. It will launch all the equipment, turn on video conferencing and allow the meeting to start smoothly.
Benefits for business
Amazon’s Tara Walker has succinctly summed up the benefits of the new technology for business. In her own words, Alexa for Business brings the Alexa that millions have used in the work context, thus helping workers be more productive and organized, and saving them time in the process. She stresses that shared devices can be placed anywhere in the workplace, and users can also connect while outside or at home via their own personal devices.
Alexa is a personal assistant that never sleeps or forgets, one that keeps learning all the time. It spares you the stress of worrying about meetings, deadlines, inventories, and all the little aspects of a business.
Time to forget typing: Voice is the future!
Alexa is impressive in offering access both to information and other software, using only your voice.
This is the start of an exciting new paradigm shift, as Amazon puts it. Voice is the natural way of interacting and is becoming a way of interacting with technology and services, at home and at work. Predictions say that the new generations of mobile services will be increasingly voice activated.
So, if you have always hated typing anyway, you should be excited over Amazon’s new developments. Alexa for business surely sounds like an impressive virtual assistant, but it is all the more exciting in taking the voice communication with technology to a new level. It seems that soon enough we’ll be talking to our phones more than we dare to imagine.