Alexa for Business now works with third-party devices

Device makers building with the Alexa Voice Service have an opportunity to reach new enterprise customers.

Amazon on Wednesday announced that Alexa for Business, the office integration of Amazon's voice-activated assistant, now works with any device with Alexa built in, including third-party devices. Previously, organizations had to use Alexa for Business via the Amazon Echo.

The update "represents a significant opportunity for device makers," Pete Thompson, VP of the Alexa Voice Service, said in a statement. It allows device makers to "address the growing demand for voice in organizations."

Launched last year, Alexa for Business is a natural expansion of Amazon's AI assistant, which is already dominating the consumer market for smart speakers and voice interfaces. Alexa for Business is capable of performing tasks like looking up events, managing schedules and setting reminders.

Amazon says thousands of businesses are using it alongside existing office equipment. Customers have been able to use Alexa for Business to control equipment from device makers like Polycom by pairing the equipment to an Echo device.

With this update, device makers like Polycom can simplify the user experience via an extension to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) SDK. Then, business customers will be able to manage those products as shared devices within the business.

In its blog post, Amazon points to potential opportunities this opens up for device makers, such as the deployment of products to shared spaces such as conference rooms, hotel and dorm rooms, lobbies, kitchens, break rooms or copy rooms.

While Alexa may already seem fairly ubiquitous, her presence is growing quickly, thanks in part to its third-party ecosystem. At the IFA tech showcase in Berlin last month, Amazon's smart home VP Daniel Rausch said there are over 50,000 Alexa skills and 20,000 Alexa-enabled devices. There were only 4,000 such devices at the beginning of the year.

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