Alexa for Business: What Amazon's voice service could do for the enterprise
Announcing the launch of Alexa for Business at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas on Thursday, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels described a future where technology and digital access is defined by human centricity, and said it starts with voice, the most natural way of interacting.
The CTO described a future that isn't as distant as it once was, where surgeons can talk to equipment while performing surgery, or parents can "scream" at their devices while dealing with a busy schedule.
"What voice will do is allow you to have a normal, natural way of communicating," Vogels said. "We are talking, this isn't a Slack channel."
"Voice is the key disruption."
He said, however, that digital systems are being limited in their application to digital users and that it is up to organisations to make sure a human-centric approach is taken when developing new products for the end-user.
Vogels said voice will unlock digital systems for everyone, and pointed to the way grandparents head straight for Skype when handed a tablet; "that's about all that they do," he said.
He said that once people begin to talk to their digital systems, they won't want to go back and look for which app to use for what, with "app fatigue" currently plaguing a user's experience with tech.
According to Vogels, voice-focused digital initiatives have the potential to assist developing countries, more than what providing people with a smartphone or tablet does, at least.
"Building apps is not first on their minds; surviving is first on their minds," he said.
Voice-enabled technology has the potential to make a difference from a consumer level in home automation, which isn't a new approach from AWS; the Amazon Echo has quietly become a smarthome hub for at least two years.
"You want a better way of interacting," Vogels explained. "You no longer want to go around your room and switch all of the lights on."
Instead, Vogels said, human-centric design will see people interacting with their homes in a more fluid way, moving through a space that will have pre-determined patterns for what lighting, as one example, is required.
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But creating human-centric products and tools will also mean backend systems will need to be built different, with Vogels saying backend systems will be built with voice.
AWS' human-centric future is backed by a handful of the announcements made during re:Invent, which has this year focused on giving developers more tools to make further progress with machine learning or artificial intelligence.
Vogel's human-centric future has no sign of servers. To that end, Vogels unveiled the AWS Serverless Application Repository.
"All the code you ever write will be business logic," Vogels said. "There are no servers in this architecture ... there is only serverless functionality, such as DynamoDB."
The repository, currently in preview, is designed for producers and consumers of serverless apps, supporting publishing, discovery, and deployment. The repository will allow users to discover a collection of serverless applications, easily deploy from the repository to an AWS account, and allow for the publication of applications built by the user to share with the rest of the community.
"We want to make sure that every AWS customer moves ahead into the serverless future," AWS wrote in a blog post.
Where security is concerned, Vogels said protecting the customer should be the number one priority of every organisation.
"We have not taken encryption serious enough," he said. "Encryption is the only tool you have to make sure you are the only one who has access to your data."
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Disclaimer: Asha Barbaschow travelled to AWS re:Invent as a guest of AWS.