Earlier this year, I asserted that Amazon is building an intelligent and continuously evolving super platform built on Alexa and Amazon Web Services (AWS). This platform enables Amazon to push into new markets from communications to fashion through the voice interface; and to reimagine how people use voice to manage everyday tasks such as ordering products and managing our smart homes. On November 30, Amazon extended its super platform in a big way with the launch of Alexa for Business.
As Amazon discussed on its blog, Alexa for Business positions Alexa as “your intelligent assistant at work.” Alexa for Business customers use the service to provision Echo devices in multiple locations (such as offices and conference rooms) and set up those devices to manage everyday tasks such as managing conference calls and calendars. If those functions sound pedestrian to you, well, that’s the whole point of Alexa for Business: to make it easier for you to manage the mundane and often tiresome tasks that distract you from getting productive work done. Here’s how Amazon sells the value of Alexa for Business on the AWS website:
Today, people spend too much of their day on tedious tasks at work, like managing their calendars, dialing in to meetings, or searching for information. But Amazon Alexa can help solve this problem by acting as an intelligent assistant at work. Alexa lets people use their voice to interact with technology so they can spontaneously ask questions in a way that feels natural. Alexa can help people take care of these tasks just by asking. Alexa can help people stay organized and focused on the things that matter, whether they are working in their office or at home. Alexa can simplify conference rooms, allowing meeting attendees to start meetings and control the equipment in the room by simply using their voice. Alexa can also do things around the workplace, like providing directions to a conference room, notifying IT about a broken printer, or placing an order for office supplies.
I see Alexa for Business as a liberating force inside the corporate world. Amazon is capitalizing on the natural voice interface that has fueled the popularity of Echo in the consumer world – and turning the power of that interface toward businesses. Imagine the many ways Alexa for Business can empower your work force to focus on more important things than fumbling around with their conference call dialing. Now multiply the benefits of Alexa for Business in large companies employing tens of thousands of workers, and you get a better sense of Alexa for Business’s potential.
Here is an example of how smart technology will make us better, not replace us – based on the reach and power of the AWS cloud platform.
It’s also remarkable how quickly Amazon has built a super platform through the Echo. Within two years since its launch in 2017, the Echo has captured 76 percent of the smart home speaker market by making it easier for people to manage tasks such as searching for information and managing our smart homes. In a sense, Amazon has conditioned us to accept Alexa in the work place by starting with our homes – the brick-and-mortar hosts for the Amazon super platform. Amazon has extended its reach through:
- People: building off a willing audience of users who have made Echo the dominant smart platform
- Platform: leveraging Amazon’s strengths in the and its understanding of natural language processing
- Process: giving users guidance on how to think and design for voice, creating a process for a successful outcome
- Partners: building relationships with businesses necessary to make Alexa for Business succeed. For Instance, Amazon is working with companies such as Polycom to enable the uptake of Alexa for Business in conference rooms as well as Microsoft to integrate Alexa into its productivity services (to cite two partners)
Combine those elements with Amazon’s power, ingenuity, and nimbleness, and you have all the necessary factors for Amazon to become the dominant voice-based platform for consumers and businesses.
One way or another, Amazon is creating an ecosystem powered by its own products and services. The question for any business is not how Alexa will disrupt you – by now Amazon’s disruptive powers are well known — but how you will find a way to thrive in Amazon’s world. Moonshot can help you develop lovable products based on emerging technologies and experiences such as voice.