New Development: Amazon Echo and Alexa Skills
January 16, 2017
So you got a new Amazon Echo or Echo Dot for Christmas? It seems like almost everyone did. Amazon was backordered all season, and the echo dot was one of their hottest sellers. While it is cool that you can order a pizza without reaching for your phone, dim the lights and have Alexa play some smooth jazz, setting the mood for a romantic holiday evening, but have you thought about how the technology can be used to help your business? Well, we’ve got some ideas for you.
What is Amazon Echo or Alexa?
First, some clarification; Echo is Amazon’s family of devices that are a standalone hub and allow you to communicate with Alexa. Alexa is the voice, or more accurately the voice service which processes your speech and connects you with the service you are looking for. For the time being, Alexa is most often found in Echo devices and Kindle tablets, but thanks to Amazon’s partnerships, you will soon hear her in appliances, and even automobiles!
Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit makes it easy for developers to integrate with Amazon Alexa. Right now, the Skills marketplace doesn’t have a mechanism for developers to sell Skills (apps), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way for your business to capitalize on this new technology.
Lots of business are using Alexa to allow customers to place orders, get information, or contact the company by using their voice and an Echo device.
Alexa Business Applications
Let me give you some examples based on the Acme Widget Company, a leading global supplier of all sorts of widgets.
By linking your Amazon account to your Acme Widgets Co. customer account, you could ask Alexa for such things as:
- “Alexa, Place my stock order with Acme Widgets.”
- “Alexa, What is the status of my Acme Widgets order?”
- “Alexa, Open Acme Widgets. Has order 128649 shipped?”
- “Alexa, Open Acme Widgets. Send a message to my sales rep: Give me a call with your Q1 specials.”
If you are a sales rep for Acme, you could link your Alexa to your CRM system and then:
- “Alexa, Open Acme Widgets. Am I on track to meet my sales quota?”
- “Alexa, Open Acme Widgets. What is my sales goal for this month?”
- “Alexa, Open Acme Widgets. What is my current sales total for the month/quarter/year?”
For retail consumers you might want them to be able to ask Alexa things like:
- “Alexa, Open Acme Widgets. What is the nearest retail store? What are their hours?”
- “Alexa, Open Acme Widgets. Do they make a widget to fit a 1974 Ford Pinto?”
- “Alexa, What is the customer service number for Acme Widgets?”
All of these are applications can be handled by an Amazon Alexa Skill. This is an exciting new technology which has been evolving and continues to improve. At Cii, we have begun working with clients to integrate Amazon Alexa into their workflows and create opportunities to engage customers on this new platform. More information on our Alexa Skill Development services.
If you have an idea you’d like to implement, or to find out what we can do for you, please contact us today.
Gray Anthony, Software Engineer