Amazon Web Services, Inc., announced Alexa for Business, a new AWS service that provides every employee with an intelligent assistant to simplify their interactions with the technology around them at work—in conference rooms, at their desks, and around the office. Alexa for Business can help automate tasks like starting conference calls, controlling conference room equipment, scheduling meetings, keeping track of tasks, or reordering supplies. Alexa for Business also supports a large and growing list of new skills and integrations from companies like Salesforce, Concur, and Polycom that extend Alexa for Business’s functionality into the popular applications and devices customers already use in the workplace.
Companies can easily tailor Alexa for Business by building custom “private” skills that integrate with a customer’s IT applications and office systems. To help customers easily voice-enable their offices, Alexa for Business includes the tools to set-up and manage Alexa devices, enroll users, and assign skills–at scale.
Today, people spend too much of their days on tedious tasks at work—dialing into meetings, managing their calendars, or searching for information. And, the office technologies designed to help employees stay productive often just add to the load. For example, beginning a meeting in a conference room can take multiple steps; workers have to make sure that the room is available, turn on the video conference equipment, search for dial-in information, and enter passwords. Sometimes, just starting a meeting can take five to ten minutes—if it works at all.
There are also many tasks around the office that can be time consuming or frustratingly difficult to figure out, such as finding and scheduling an open conference room, getting someone to fix a broken piece of office equipment, or locating a coworker’s office. Alexa for Business helps solve many of these hassles by allowing people to use their voices to interact with technology throughout their workdays. As an intelligent assistant at work, Alexa for Business makes starting a conference call as simple as asking Alexa to “start the meeting.” Alexa for Business can help workers manage calendars, keep up with to-do lists, and make phone calls. Around the office, Alexa for Business can handle tasks like notifying IT of an equipment issue, or finding and booking an open conference room—all with just a few words.
“Tens of millions of people already count on Alexa at home, in their cars, and on mobile devices to answer questions, provide news and information, and stay connected to friends and family,” said Peter Hill, Director, Productivity Applications, AWS. “Alexa for Business extends the simplicity of voice control to the workplace, while adding powerful tools to help businesses deploy and manage devices, create skills, and deliver voice-first experiences in a scalable way—all backed by the AWS Cloud.”
Customers can set up shared Alexa devices in common areas around the workplace—conference rooms, huddle rooms, lobbies, and communications centers—and manage these devices, enroll users, and assign skills from the AWS Management Console. With shared Alexa devices, users can start and end meetings in conference rooms by saying “Alexa, start/end the meeting.” Alexa will automatically dial into the meeting using an Alexa device as a speakerphone or existing video conferencing equipment. Individual users can also use Alexa for Business from their desks to automatically dial into conference calls, check their upcoming appointments, and schedule or cancel meetings. Alexa for Business works with Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, and Google G Suite.