In Part 1 of this series,  we showed why businesses should begin to use voice technologies.   Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and others are rapidly developing Artificial Intelligence – voice applications to serve the needs of small and large businesses.

In this article, we’ll provide tip-of-the-iceberg examples from the Alexa platform that may help you figure out which direction your business needs to take with these technologies.

The functions and features of voice technologies are rapidly evolving.  So, depending on when you read it, they could be much more advanced.

Overall, I think of using voice/AI technologies in the following ways:

  • Bring Alexa into the workplace to improve productivity
  • Use native functionality and third-party skills (a skill is Alexa’s name for a voice application) to improve productivity
  • Create your own custom business skill to generate leads and sales

Bring Alexa into the workplace to improve productivity

The Alexa For Business platform allows businesses to deploy Alexa devices across the workplace to


Image courtesy of: thetaxhaven

provide employees with information, a communication channel, and easier ways to conduct business.  It can be scaled from small operations to large enterprise applications, and nonprofits.

The idea is that using voice to initiate and control tasks and communications is an easy and the most natural way to communicate and work.  it saves time and doesn’t require traditional devices such as tablets, PC’s, smartphones, and laptops.

Some examples of Alexa for Business applications are:

  • Voice scheduling of events and calendar integrations
  • Daily flash briefings for employees of company and industry info
  • Voice calls to other employees
  • Partitioned  or departmentalized information distribution
  • Order supplies
  • Control web conference starts and office devices such as lighting, locks, etc.
  • Arrange travel
  • Sell physical goods and services

There are dozens of examples, but this will give you an idea of this category of AI.

Amazon describes their Alexa for Business platform in the following way:

What Is Alexa for Business?

Alexa for Business makes it easy for you to use Alexa in your organization. Alexa for Business gives you the tools you need to manage Alexa devices, enroll your users, and assign skills, at scale. You can build your own context-aware voice skills using the Alexa Skills Kit, and the Alexa for Business APIs, and you can make these available as private skills for your organization. Alexa for Business also makes it easy to voice-enable your products and services, providing context-aware voice experiences for your customers.

How to Get Started with Alexa for Business

After you set up your shared devices, you organize them by creating rooms and assigning devices to these rooms. You manage skills and settings centrally with skill groups and room profiles. You can configure the rooms to be linked to your corporate calendar and configure them to automatically join meetings.

The Alexa Skills Kit is a collection of self-service API actions, tools, documentation, and code examples. You can create your own skill and add it to the Alexa for Business console. All of the code runs in the cloud and nothing is stored on devices. For more information, see the Alexa Skills Kit details page and Managing Skills.

Amazon AWS Documentation

Use native functionality and third-party skills to improve productivity

There are thousands of Alexa skills that are available to meet business and personal needs.  These skills are being developed by Amazon for native functionality, and businesses who want to provide their customers with new ways to engage with their products and services.  Here are a few examples:

  • Book rental cars through the Expedia skill, and similar third-party apps
  • Get sales and website data through Google Analytics and third-party applications
  • Custom built skills that allow the business to educate and build relationships with customers, patients, and clients.  An example is our 5-Star Business Skill
  • Daily briefings of industry or company information
  • Niche skills are emerging that help solve problems in specific areas such as a new skill that is available for senior home care agencies to communicate with their patients.

Create your own custom business skill to generate leads and sales

Amazon has opened up the ability for anyone with an  Amazon developer account (free) to build their own skill with a minimum of coding.  The possibilities for building custom skills that engage your customers and prospects are endless.  Here are a few examples:

  • Skills that provide information on your place of business, services, or products
  • In skill purchases have just been launched by Amazon to allow skill builders to sell premium content or subscriptions.  Amazon has made this easy to do.  The skill builder creates the content and sets the price, and Amazon takes care of the ordering, payment (using Amazon Pay), and other details
  • Sell physical goods through Amazon Pay
  • Skills that give useful information designed to attract leads and customers.  For example, a daily flash briefing skill on financial news would be useful to many investors.  At any point after they sign up to receive the briefing, they can also be offered an option to buy premium content through in-skill purchases.

Although only a small number of people today are actually buying things using Alexa, the number is growing as Amazon figures out how to do it.

Any custom skill would need to be built for the business using Amazon’s developer service.  The Alexa Skill Development Kit makes this possible using basic coding knowledge.  Simple skills can also be done relatively easily through Get Storyline.  More complex skills may require an investment into coding time.

There’s lots more to discuss on this subject, and new examples emerge every day.  We’ll be keeping our eye out for developments that useful, particularly to local businesses and report back to you.

I encourage you to jump in and experiment with the technology in a way that helps you build your business.  The technology is here to stay, and in a few short years, those without some voice presence will be as obsolete as those without a website today.

What do you think of for applications of this emerging platform?

Photo By perzonseo

Photo By SAMHSA


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