Amazon’s Alexa as a Virtual Office Assistant
Studies have shown that as much as 40 percent of time spent at work is generally unproductive, busy work. Things like checking emails, ordering supplies, fixing the copy machine or trying to figure out how to work a conference call line—during the conference call. These tasks can be aggravating and, when experienced by everyone in the firm, can have an impact on the bottom line.
To help companies manage small, day-to-day tasks, Amazon has launched Alexa for Business. Amazon Echo is a speaker; Echo Dot is a smaller speaker. Alexa is the name of the virtual assistant who you can converse with through the Echo speaker. Alexa boasts more than 25,000 skills—which are basically apps that you enable in order to access a particular service. For example, you can get an up-to-the-minute news brief from Reuters, request the stock price of a specific security, order a driver from Uber or Lyft, translate a word or sentence from another language, order supplies, compile a to-do list, or initiate phone calls—all by simply asking Alexa.
Alexa for Business isn’t just for individual use. A company can set up Alexa devices in common areas throughout the workplace for all employees to use.
Around the Office
Alexa for Business enables a firm to manage all of the Alexa devices from a centralized console connected to your Alexa for Business account. This is a time-saving feature so that the devices do not need to be managed individually.
This configuration enables all employees to utilize Alexa for various tasks, such as getting directions, finding an open meeting room, ordering supplies, reporting building problems, or notifying IT of an equipment issue. Alexa also can be linked to internal computer networks to provide company-specific information, such as inventory levels or sales figures.
At Your Desk
For folks who work in an individual office, Alexa at your desk can help manage your calendar, maintain a to-do list, and set up reminders so that you don’t miss a meeting or an appointment. By simply speaking in a normal voice, you can ask Alexa to make phone calls for you and dial into conference calls. You can set up skills for your specific device or incorporate, for example, the corporate calendar so that every device has access.
Employees can even use Alexa for Business skills with their home devices, which allows them to work from home. They also can access skills from their home device while at work.
In the Conference Room
Alexa for Business includes skills that make it easy to configure Alexa to control your conference room calls, audio and visual equipment, and any meeting applications. This allows anyone to get the meeting started by speaking to Alexa. For small conference rooms, an Alexa-enabled device can actually function as an audio conferencing vehicle; in larger conference rooms, Alexa can run the equipment so that participants can focus on the meeting—not the phone or presentation glitches.
In today’s competitive business environment, the ability to maximize every staff member’s productivity can be a key driver for success. Start by having a frank discussion with employees about what tasks drain their time and resources throughout the day, then consider adopting Alexa for Business to help address those issues and give your entire firm an on-demand virtual assistant.