Today, Amazon announced Alexa for Business from Amazon Web Services. Alexa for Business is a service that makes it easy for organizations to use Alexa in the workplace. This opens up new opportunities for Alexa skill developers to build skills that help organizations and employees use Alexa to get more done in less time.
How It Works
Using Alexa for Business, organizations can deploy Alexa-enabled devices across a variety of locations, including at employees' desks, in conference rooms, and in common locations throughout the workplace. Administrative features provide organizations with the ability to manage skills, users, and devices across organizations. Skills or groups of skills are deployed directly to devices provisioned within the organization. These can be selectively enabled across rooms or types of rooms that you define. You can also optionally manage and invite users to use these same Alexa skills on their personal devices.
Build Skills for the Enterprise
You can build skills using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa for Business that enable employees to use Alexa while at their desk to quickly find information such as the latest sales data or inventory levels. You can build skills for use in conference rooms to enable employees to start meetings and control conference-room equipment settings using voice. You can also build skills for scenarios in which Alexa-enabled devices are distributed in common locations throughout the workplace. For these occasions, you can build custom skills that enable employees to use Alexa to find open meeting rooms, order new supplies, report building problems, or notify IT of equipment issues.
How Companies Are Using These Capabilities
We invited a few companies to participate in the early developer preview for Alexa for Business. Here’s how they are using these capabilities:
- Concur: “Alexa, ask concur when is my next business trip?” For employees whose companies use Concur, the Concur skill gets relevant itinerary details for upcoming travel to keep the employee up to date wherever they are.
- Polycom: “Alexa, start the meeting.” Polycom created skill using Alexa for Business device API to automatically turn on Polycom video conferencing equipment and start meetings.
- RingCentral: “Alexa, ask RingCentral to read my voicemail.” RingCentral built a skill to start calls, send text messages, listen to voicemails, and join web meetings all with voice commands.
- Salesforce: "Alexa, ask Salesforce Einstein for the opportunities list for the first quarter.” Salesforce has built a skill that allows customers to access Einstein analytics and insights.
- Tact: “Alexa, ask Tact what is the latest on Globex deal?” Tact users now access their Salesforce data over voice.
What Will You Create?
You can create any type of skill for Alexa for Business customers. For example, you can create a skill that provides definitions to industry terms, provides a news briefing specific to an industry or business, or helps an employee control video conferencing equipment.
- Custom Skills: Level up your custom skills by using the Alexa for Business ResolveRoom API to make skills location-aware. This means you can create skills to help employees find the nearest printer or cafeteria, or get help or services delivered to their location. The possibilities are endless with custom skills. To get started, see Understanding Custom Skills.
- Flash Briefings: Provide a business-centric flash briefing for employees. With a flash briefing skill, the voice interaction model is handled for you. The Flash Briefing Skill API makes it easy to leverage existing RSS feeds so you can surface your existing content in new ways. To get started, see Understand the Flash Briefing Skill API.
- Skills for Smart Devices: You can create skills for video conferencing and other smart devices. These skills enable employees to enter a conference room and ask Alexa to start their meeting, turn on a device, or adjust the volume. This skill type builds on the existing Smart Home Skill API voice model, which means the voice interactions are handled for you. For more information, see Build Skills for Conferencing Devices.
If you are creating skills specific to your business or on behalf of an organization, you can choose to publish skills privately to an Alexa for Business account rather than the public Alexa Skill Store. The Skill Management API command-line tool enable you to incorporate this into manual or automated workflows. For more information, see Create and Publish Private Skills.
Check out our documentation on Alexa for Business to learn more about how you can create skills for organizations using Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa for Business.
Get Started with Alexa for Business
To learn more about building skills for organizations or using the new APIs, please visit the Alexa for Business page. And sign up for our webinar on January 16 to learn tips and best practices for building skills with Alexa for Business. We can’t wait to see what you build.