The Voice-First Workplace is a Big Development for 2018

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Amazon released the Echo in 2016 as a consumer product, designed to make life around the home easier. You could ask Alexa for the weather, or to play music, or to read you a recipe. Initial third-party development, spurred on by Amazon’s own marketing effort, furthered the penetration into the home with skills for consumer brands like Campbell’s Soup, publishers like Harper Collins, and recreational uses like The Wayne Investigation, an Alexa-based game created to promote Batman vs Superman.

From the Home to the Workplace

Fast forward 18 months later, and Amazon has launched its Alexa for Business initiative, designed to provide a framework for Alexa to enter the workplace and add value to corporate environments, and not just the home. Private Alexa skills will allow organizations to create applications which can be used at work, without having to publish those skills into the broader Alexa Skills Marketplace first. That is an important requirement for many businesses.
In addition, a flexible pricing model allows businesses to pay either based on the number of shared devices in use, or the number of users enrolled within a given organization. Liz Myers, former Amazon Alexa technical evangelist, commented to me recently:
Alexa in Business is the next big step in making voice UI ubiquitous. Using Alexa at work adds to the continuum of experience, which now extends from the home, to the car, to the workplace. Further, the ability to create custom private skills, which live in specific organizations, will springboard a new market for Alexa development moving forward.”

An Entirely New Market and Alexa in the Lead Again

From initial use cases ranging from asking Alexa to schedule a team meeting to initiating a conference call, to more advanced concepts such as having Alexa intelligently parse data sets or creating dynamic, voice-enabled presentations, the market for Alexa in Business is wide open. Amazon is first to this market. If they are as successful in convincing developers and organizations to embrace private skill creation as they have been in getting developers to create public-facing Alexa skills, Amazon’s market share for the Alexa ecosystem will only continue to grow.

Bradley Metrock is CEO of Score Publishing and executive producer of The Alexa Conference, taking place in 2018 from January 18-20 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Liz Myers, former technical evangelist for Amazon, will present the first “Alexa for Business” lab as part of The Alexa Conference, walking attendees through a hands-on demo of producing a voice-enabled PowerPoint presentation.

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