Alexa Skill Blueprints Now Has a Business Category
Amazon announced today that Alexa Skill Blueprints now offers two new Skill Blueprints, called the Business Q&A and Onboard Guide. The blueprints are available under a new “Business” category on the Skill Blueprints website. The Business Q&A Blueprint allows users to create their own set of questions and answers pertinent to their organization or business. For example, a user could ask, “Alexa what are the hours for IT?” to find out about the business. The OnBoard Guide Blueprint helps new company employees become familiar with their organization and its best practices. For example, a user could ask, “Alexa, how do I submit an expense report?” and have Alexa respond with the appropriate steps. Alexa for Business users are able to use both skill blueprints today.
Alexa for Business Blueprints in Context
Alexa for Business is a service that enables organizations to use Alexa to reserve meeting rooms, start conference calls, manage schedules, keep track of to-do lists, and set reminders with voice commands. It was launched in December 2017 and allows users to create private skills, manage smart speaker configurations, and control access from a centralized dashboard. Users pay for the service by either the number of Alexa devices used or as a monthly subscription based service. In the Fall of 2018, Amazon opened up Alexa for Business to device makers, meaning third-party devices can have Alexa for Business built-in.
At least two Universities have also already implemented the new business-focused skill blueprints. Saint Louis University plans to drive student and faculty engagement using Alexa for business blueprints, and Emerson University plans to use Alexa for Business Blueprints in support of their curriculum. Sanjay Pothen, Director of Emerson Launch at Emerson University said in Amazon’s announcement blog post:
…It is important for us to provide students with a leading edge experience both on and off campus, and Alexa for Business is going to be a big part of that. We’re trialing a concept called Voicelets whereby we’ll be using Alexa for Business Blueprints, such as Business Q&A, as well as Skill Blueprints from the Learning and Knowledge category, to create class-specific quizzes as a fun and engaging way for students to learn course materials. Because no coding is required to create private skills in this way, our professors plan to join in on the content creation!
Amazon Pushing Alexa Towards Enterprise Use
It is pretty interesting that Amazon has tailored skill blueprints for enterprise use, it shows that the company thinks highly of Alexa’s use by businesses and inside of businesses. This news also follows the announcement last week that Poly is integrating Amazon Chime and Alexa for Business into the Trio conference phone. Poly also announced last week that it’s Voyager 4200 UC headsets will feature Alexa built-in. Alexa is not generally known for its use in business, especially not when compared to other voice assistants, such as Cortana, which have made their sole focus enterprise use. However, this announcement clearly indicates a continued interest to have Alexa included in that conversation.