Amazon.com Inc. on Thursday said that Alexa, its increasingly popular digital aide that shoppers command by voice, is now programmed to handle a range of tedious office tasks, Reuters reports.
Businesses can buy Alexa devices that help employees dial into conference calls, manage their calendars, find open meeting rooms and order work supplies from Amazon.
“Meetings always start 10 minutes late” due to small technology issues, Amazon’s chief technology officer Werner Vogels said at the company’s cloud-computing summit in Las Vegas. “If voice is a natural way of interacting in your home … why don’t we build something that you can actually use at work as well?”
The answer to that question is Amazon’s “Alexa for Business” offering, which lets companies buy Alexa devices like the Echo for employees to share at US$7 per month per gadget. That is a departure from Amazon’s normal requirement that Alexa devices be tied to a shopper’s Prime account to unlock all features.
Businesses also can enroll employees’ home devices into their Alexa networks for US$3 per month per user. The service lets companies centrally provision and manage devices for their organizations.
The move adds to Amazon’s competition with Microsoft Corp, which bought internet phone and video chat company Skype in 2011 with hopes of improving communications at work. Microsoft has also recently courted businesses with applications of its own voice technology, with programs that convert audio into text and vice versa.
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