Amazon Echo

Amazon Web Services is bringing its voice-activated assistant from the home to the office. The tech giant has announced the release of Alexa for businesses. The launch marks a crucial turning point, opening opportunity for retailers and brands to optimize workers’ schedules and overarching efficiency.

“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 of productivity applications at 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.”

The voice-enabled assistant aims to facilitate the automation of tasks ranging from beginning conference calls, controlling conference room equipment, scheduling meetings, reordering supplies. While these responsibilities may seem rudimentary, the amount of time conserved from tapping technology alleviates time for professionals to focus on larger, more pressing matters.

For brands and retailers that might have lowered headcount in the past year or undergone restructuring in effort to improve margins, Alexa for Business stands to boost the streamlining of workflow.

“There are also many tasks around the office that can be time consuming or frustratingly difficult to figure out. Alexa for Business helps solve many of these hassles by allowing people to use their voices to interact with technology throughout their workdays,” an AWS spokesman said. “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.”

Men’s wear brand, Brooks Brothers is already using the service. “With Alexa for Business, we are now using Alexa to simplify our conference room experience,” said Phillip Miller, chief information security officer at Brooks Brothers. “Alexa takes care of all the details by allowing us to begin meetings with the simple voice command, ‘Alexa, start the meeting.’ Not only does Alexa for Business make it easy for me to provision and manage Echo devices throughout my office, but also configure them to work with Amazon Chime and my existing conference room AV/VC equipment.”

Additional companies deploying the technology include Salesforce, WeWork, Polycom, Concur and Vonage.

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