AWS announces Alexa partner program

At the Re:Invent conference, Amazon Web Services' Terry Wise said there's a 'deep desire to integrate Alexa and voice capabilities' into services offered through the partner network.

Amazon Web Services will launch the Amazon AWS Alexa Partner Program, the cloud giant announced Tuesday at the AWS Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.

AWS has heard a "deep desire to integrate Alexa and voice capabilities" into services offered through the partner network, said Terry Wise, director of the Amazon Web Services worldwide partner ecosystem.

Already, more than 3,000 Alexa skills have been developed by AWS partners in the market, Wise said. He gave the example of Electrolux, which has integrated Alexa capabilities into air conditioning units.

The new partner program will be available in the "coming weeks," Wise said. Through the program, AWS will invest in tools, training, and go-to-market funding for partners who want to bring Alexa capabilities to their customers.

Third-party integrations are making voice-activated assistants like Alexa increasingly useful in a variety of scenarios. While voice-activated functions are becoming more relevant in people's personal lives, they're also pushing into the enterprise space. FinancialForce, for instance, recently rolled out a voice-activated ERP assistant. Just a few weeks ago, Atlassian's HipChat rolled out an integration with a proactive version of Alexa.

Several updates to the AWS partner program were announced on Tuesday, including an upcoming integrated partner program with VMware.

Is Amazon Echo the first digital assistant that's actually helpful? Echo has been a surprise hit in the US, where Amazon has sold over three million units. One of the most interesting things about Echo, which is the first of what will surely be a vast range of devices that we'll use our voices rather than keyboards or screens to communicate with, is the potential of Alexa.