OK she’s been in my kitchen for months and I’m in the habit of asking her to give me Radio 4 while I’m making my morning coffee. Useful for music as well, especially when a tune comes into your head. But it’s usually some question I have in my head or topic I want some detail on. My wife’s getting used to hearing me talk to someone else while in another room. But what about the more formal use of Alexa in a business? Could its frictionless, hands-free, natural language interface be of use in the office environment?
How often have you been in a meeting that’s overrun? You can set multiple timers on Alexa and she will light up and alarm you (softly) towards the end of each agenda item, say one minute before the next agenda item. It could also be useful as a timer for speakers and presenters. Ten minutes each? Set her up and she provides both visual and aural timed cues. I guess it would pay for itself at the end of the first meeting!
2. Calendar functionality
As Alexa can be integrated with your Google calendar, you simply say, “Alexa, tell Quick Events to add go to see
4th March at 11 a.m.". It prompts you until it has the complete scheduled
3. To do lists
Alexa will add things to a To Do list. This could be an action list from a meeting or a personal list.
Need numbers added, subtracted, multiplied, divided? You can read them in quickly and Alexa relpies quickly.
5. Queries and questions
Quick questions or more detailed stuff from Wikipedia? Alexa will oblige. You can also get stock quotes and even do banking through Capital One. Expect others to follow.
6. Domain specific knowledge
Product knowledge, company specific knowledge, Alexa can be trained to respond to voice queries. Deliver a large range of text files and Alexa can find the relevant one on request.
You can provide text (text to speech) or your own audio briefings. Indeed, you can have as many of these as you want. Or go one step further with a quiz app that delivers audio training.
Set yourself up for the day or have some ambient music on while you work? Better still music that responds to your mood and requests, Alexa is your DJ on demand.
9. Order sandwiches, Pizza or Uber
As Alexa is connected to several suppliers, you can get these delivered to your business door. Saves all of that running out for lunchtime sandwiches or pizza.
10. Control office environment
You can control your office environment through the Smart Home Skill API. This will work with existing smart home devices but there’s a developer’s kit so that you can develop your own. It can control lights, thermostats, security systems and so on.
As natural language AI applications progress, we will see these business uses become more responsive and sophisticated. This is likely to eat into that huge portion of management that the Harvard Business Review identified as admin. Beyond this are applications that deliver services, knowledge and training, specific to your organisation and you as an individual. Working on this as an application in training as we speak.