Alexa for Business: 10 key takeaways

'Hey Alexa, start the meeting.' AWS has launched Alexa for Business as it readies customers for the next wave of disruption, voice.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

For more interesting Alexa commands, see 10 Alexa productivity skills to try.

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Amazon Web Services has on Thursday announced the launch of Alexa for Business, with CTO Werner Vogels touting voice as the next major disruption in technology.

"We've been thinking then about if voice is this natural way of interacting in your home, why don't we build something that you can actually use at work as well," Vogels said, speaking at the day two keynote of AWS re:Invent. "If you've ever tried to connect your laptop to the devices that you have ... that's why meetings always start 10 minutes late."

SEE: Cheat sheet: Alexa for Business(TechRepublic)

Alexa for Business is a fully-managed service that allows the connection of multiple Alexa devices in the office. Here are 10 key features of what to expect from Alexa for Business.

  1. Users can join meetings in conference rooms by saying, "Alexa, start the meeting". Alexa turns on the video conferencing equipment, dials into your conference call, and facilitates the start of the meeting.
  2. Alexa can join any meeting with a conference call number via voice from home, work, or on the go. According to Vogels, users leveraging Alexa for conferences will no longer need conference IDs.
  3. It will also allow the connection of Echo devices at individual desk stations.
  4. Alexa for Business provides help around the office such as by providing directions, finding an open conference room, dimming the lights or lowering the blinds, reporting a building equipment problem, or ordering new supplies.
  5. Alexa helps make phone calls, hands free, and can also send messages on your behalf.
  6. Alexa can quickly check calendars, help schedule meetings, manage to-do lists, and set reminders, thanks to integrations with the likes of Salesforce, Concur, SAP SuccessFactors, and Splunk. It can also help find further information from these business applications.
  7. Alexa for Business will integrate with Office 365 and Google's G Suite, and it will also support on-premises Exchange for business users to handle calendar scheduling and other processes.
  8. Professional users will also be able to merge their home Alexa with Alexa for Business at work, so the skills they use at home will crossover at work. Admin can invite users in the organisation to enrol their personal Alexa account with the Alexa for Business account.
  9. For each device, admins can set a location, such as a conference room designation, and assign public and private skills for the device.
  10. The plan for AWS is to simplify and provide a management plan for the smart office that's Alexa-powered. AWS will also benefit since all the smarts in Alexa are in the cloud.

Alexa for Business is pay-as-you-go service, with charges based on the number of shared devices registered, and the number of users enrolled in the organisation's account.

Shared devices are $7 per device, per month; enrolled users are $3 per user, per month.


Alexa for Business

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Disclaimer: Asha Barbaschow travelled to to AWS re:Invent as a guest of AWS.

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