Alexa for Business: the next stage for the virtual assistant

Alexa for Business is a new platform will let companies build out their own skills and integrations for both practical and business use cases.

As AWS CTO Werner Vogels noted during his keynote where he unveiled the device, voice support is a major focus for the company, which aims to “unlock digital systems for everyone.”

AWS worked with Microsoft to enable better support for its suite of productivity services, as well as other enterprise services likes of Concur and Splunk to bring their services to Alexa. Other partners include Capital One, WeWork and JPL.

>See also: Voice commerce is coming sooner than expected

Alois Reitbauer, VP, chief technical strategist and head of innovation lab at Dynatrace comments on what this means for voice and digital assistants in the workplace.

“Amazon’s announcement of Alexa for Business marks the start of what will surely be rapid adoption of voice and digital assistants among software companies. In fact, by mid-next year, we should expect to see all major industries rolling out voice-based interfaces. Voice is so intuitive; it makes sense as the next technological evolution. Companies can greatly increase productivity without having to follow set workflows, learn software, sit through demos or trainings; they can just start talking and go.”

>See also: Amazon looks to consolidate the virtual assistant market

“But, as adoption increases, and voice and digital assistants become key to enterprises’ competitiveness, it will be crucial to maintain a good user experience. This presents a new challenge in terms of visibility into whether things are working and, if not, why. Enterprises need to be able to find errors, see the whole user journey and understand how long it takes to respond. Enterprises can’t afford to have any problems because once voice is done successfully and people grow accustomed to the experience, it will become the new standard and extremely difficult to revert to anything else. That’s just how innovation works, so it’s important to get it right, without user issues.”

The initial challenge will be getting large companies to invest in a huge quantity of Echo devices necessary for the product to have the transformative impact many believe this will have.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.