Alexa is an intelligent voice-based personal assistant developed by Amazon. It was first integrated into the company’s portable speakers, the Amazon Echo, and the Amazon Echo Dot. Apart from being integrated into company’s in-house products such as portable speakers, Amazon Fire TV Sticks, and more, Alexa is starting to find its way into several third-party appliances and applications such as lamps, TVs, air conditioners, mobile applications, and thermostats. Alexa can perform a variety of tasks such as taking voice commands to make phone calls, setting reminders, playing music, controlling your smart home, retrieving information from the Internet, controlling your TV, entertainment, and other purposes. When users communicate with Alexa, they’re actually sending voice-based inputs to communicate with the Amazon’s cloud-based service, which does the query solving. Alexa is powered by the “Alexa Voice Service” (AVS), which is Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language processing service. Now the company has officially revealed Alexa for Business, which is meant to support and assist the needs of businesses. Alexa for Business aims at simplifying and streamlining common business tasks such as setting up reminders, attending calls, managing agendas and calendars, inventory management, and more. Amazon says Alexa for Business will save a lot of time and make employees more productive.
What can Alexa for Business do?
Alexa for Business aims at simplifying the way we interact with technology by providing natural and intuitive voice-based commands. Alexa has thousands of skills available for people to use and it also allows its users to add new skills and customize their Alexa experience in accordance with them.
For shared devices, all the skills and permissions to perform the tasks can be controlled from a central console. Enrolled users can grant permissions and make private skills available to them through the Alexa device.
Here are some of the features of Alexa for Business:
- Auto-dial into conference calls.
- Managing schedules, work calendars, and agendas.
- Control and manage skills.
- Provide alerts to a technical failure or issue.
- Make announcements.
- Query databases and reports.
- Provide directions in an organization.
- Inventory management.
- Setting up reminders, and calendar sync.
- Provide facility updates.
Where is Alexa for Business integrated?
Because Alexa for Business is an enterprise-focused service, software providers can build Alexa skills to work with their applications. Here are some business-essential solutions that have already been integrated to work with Alexa:
- Microsoft Office 365
- Google G-Suite
- Skype for Business
Alexa for Business comes with a fairly simple pricing with no upfront charges and contracts. There are no long-term commitments associated with Alexa for Business and it is simply a pay-as-you-go service from Amazon. Charges for Alexa for Business are based on two categories of devices: shared and enrolled (personal) devices. A business is charged based on the number of devices registered.
Shared devices in an organization are managed centrally by Alexa for Business and can be used by anyone in the organization with physical access to the device. Because enrolled devices are personal devices, they are confined to individual users. All enrolled users need to integrate their personal Alexa account with the Alexa for Business account to use their personal features along with the business features. Irrespective of the device, there are no incremental charges for adding additional devices.
Shared devices can be deployed in workspaces like meeting and conference rooms, corridors, lobbies, and more. Since shared devices are not linked to any specific users, anyone who can access the device can use it. All shared devices are connected to a central Alexa console, from where it can be configured. Features such as directions, logistics information, and announcements can be made using shared devices.
Shared devices’ subscription fee is independent of the device. Organizations can choose the devices based on their need and all these shared devices are charged $7 per device per month.
These are user-specific devices, which are confined to an individual user. All enrolled devices allow their end users to integrate their personal Alexa account with the Alexa for Business account. By doing so, users can use their personal Alexa configuration and skills during work, making it easy for the end users to work with the business needs.
Enrolled devices can be used to set up reminders, book meetings, and take calls. Enrolled user subscription costs $3 per user per month.
More about it
All devices installed in an enterprise need not be configured separately. Alexa comes with a business console, which administrators can use to manage users, devices, skills, configure conference room settings, and build private Alexa skills. To know more about how to use controls and options available for administrators, click here.
All devices within Alexa for Business come with enterprise-level security and an easy-to-manage model. It also comes with the essential enterprise deployment models, which allows an enterprise to set up hundreds or even thousands of Alexa-powered devices at once.
Amazon has cited various companies, which have already started implementing Alexa for Business, in their work environments. Some of them are WeWork, Capital One, Vonage, and BMC.
Alexa for Business is simple and is very easy to implement and use in both end user and administrative standpoint. Although it comes with several features out-of-the-box, they can be increased and configured as per the enterprise’s needs, which makes it a very flexible tool.
Photo credit: Amazon