Announcing Alexa Knowledge Skills for Alexa for Business and Personal Devices (Generally Available): Build Q&A Skills In Minutes Using Only Spreadsheets, Without Writing Code

Tom Reno Apr 07, 2021
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We are excited to announce that Alexa Knowledge Skills is now generally available in the US. Now, you can create and distribute Knowledge Skills for use on devices managed by Alexa for Business, or enable them on your personal devices. Knowledge Skills is a new no-code skill type that allow anyone to build robust Q&A skills in minutes using only spreadsheets. Knowledge Skills target business use-cases, and help employees, customers, and visitors ask Alexa questions about an organization's data—like org charts, building information, events schedules, FAQs, glossaries, products, menus, projects, and more. Users can access this data by simply asking questions like “Alexa, what floor is Conference Room A on?” and “Alexa, what's on the lunch menu?” without needing to invoke the skill beforehand. Dozens of organizations such as DigiValet, Boston Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University, and more have used Knowledge Skills to query their data with Alexa, helping their employees and customers find information more easily and quickly. Get started building a Knowledge Skill today, no code required.

Use Knowledge Skills to Easily Query Information from your Spreadsheets

Knowledge Skills enable users to ask Alexa questions and get answers from spreadsheet data that you upload and map to business-oriented templates. With Knowledge Skills, you get the benefits of:

  1. No Code Required: Building a Knowledge Skill requires no coding or AWS infrastructure. Anyone who is familiar with spreadsheets can build one using a simple point-and-click workflow.
  2. Spreadsheet Data Input: Upload and refresh your data in bulk via spreadsheet files. Knowledge Skills make it easy to quickly develop your skill with large amounts of data.
  3. Alexa’s Natural Language Understanding and Answering: Knowledge Skills use Alexa’s intelligence to support flexible understanding and automated answering. For example, the Events template enables users to ask questions about “next” and “last” events, as well as events happening “last week”, “next month”, or “this year” without any additional development work. Knowledge Skills also auto-generate answers that account for nuances like plurality and verb conjugation, saving you time.
  4. No Skill Invocation: Simply say, “Alexa” and ask your question. Knowledge Skills make it easier to access skill information without needed an invocation name—just ask Alexa.

Build a Knowledge Skill in Minutes, No-Code Required

To start, go to the Alexa Skills Kit developer console and log in with your Alexa developer account. Select “create skill” then choose the "Knowledge" skill type. Within the Knowledge Skill interface, choose one or more templates, such as:

  • How To template"Alexa, how do I log on to the Wi-Fi?"
  • Events template"Alexa, when is the next keynote?"
  • People Directory template"Alexa, what’s John’s phone number?"

You can view the full list of templates here. Once you add templates and data, you can review and test example queries Alexa generates. Finally, you can distribute the skill to your personal devices, testers using your skill’s beta version, or to your Alexa for Business organization and enable it on devices.

How Organizations are Using Knowledge Skills

Organizations have been using Knowledge Skills to easily enable natural-language question answering for their data using Alexa. DigiValet is using Alexa Knowledge Skills to give hotel guests an easy way to access hotel and curated local information during their stay.

“We’ve found that our hotel guests who stay 2-3 days have a lot of questions that we can answer with Knowledge Skills, such as "When is the next Jazz night at the Piano Bar?", "How can I get a baby crib?", or "What is today’s special in the restaurant?". Our Knowledge Skills were easy to build and quick to update using spreadsheet data.” - Ms. Rachana Salgia, Co-Founder & President at DigiValet.

Boston Children's Hospital, in partnership with Aiva Health, is using Alexa Knowledge Skills to allow families to ask for directory information, transportation options, planned activities, wellness offerings, food options, nearby attractions and even unit-specific amenities.

“Knowledge Skills help our patients and their families get informative responses to property-specific questions through Alexa, such as ”What are the visiting hours?“ and ”What food can I get at the food court?“. Being able to quickly and easily customize the skill’s content and allow users to access it without needing to remember an invocation phrase were key factors in choosing Knowledge skills.” - Sarah Lindenauer, Director, Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator at Boston Children’s Hospital.

 

Get Started with Knowledge Skills

To get started building with Knowledge Skills, sign up for Alexa for Business and create a skill in the Alexa developer console. To learn more, visit the developer documentation here.

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