Amazon targets business applications with Alexa package

Amazon targets business applications with Alexa package
Amazon has its sights on the corporate market as it launches an Alexa product for business applications.

The company’s Amazon Web Services division, AWS, made the announcement at its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.

Alexa for Business will help automate tasks like starting conference calls, controlling conference room equipment, scheduling meetings, keeping track of tasks, or reordering supplies. It supports a skills and integrations from companies including Salesforce, Concur, and Polycom. Companies can also tailor Alexa for Business by building custom “private” skills that integrate with their IT applications and office systems. 

Peter Hill, director of productivity applications at AWS, said: “Tens of millions of people already count on Alexa at home, in their cars, and on mobile devices to answer questions, provide news and information, and stay connected to friends and family.

“Alexa for Business extends the simplicity of voice control to the workplace, while adding powerful tools to help businesses deploy and manage devices, create skills, and deliver voice-first experiences in a scalable way—all backed by the AWS Cloud.”

Customers can set up shared Alexa devices in common areas around the workplace - such as conference rooms, huddle rooms and lobbies — and manage these devices, enrol users, and assign skills from the AWS Management Console. With shared Alexa devices, users can start and end meetings in conference rooms by saying “Alexa, start/end the meeting.” Alexa will automatically dial into the meeting using an Alexa device as a speakerphone or existing video conferencing equipment.  Individual users can also use Alexa for Business from their desks to automatically dial into conference calls, check their upcoming appointments, and schedule or cancel meetings. Alexa for Business works with Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, and Google G Suite.

Salesforce, Concur, SuccessFactors, ServiceNow, Splunk, Acumatica, Tact, Polycom, Crestron, RingCentral, Teem, Twine, and Zoom, are integrating their business applications with Alexa for Business or developing skills that will allow users to accomplish certain tasks with commands such as: “Alexa, ask Salesforce for the current status of my team's big deals scheduled to close this quarter”.

Customers can also use public skills available for Alexa and create new private ones for their employees by using the Alexa Skills Kit and the Alexa for Business APIs. 

Alexa for Business is currently available in the US.