We’re living in the AI world. While most of the benefits of AI are handled behind the scenes, virtual and digital assistants, like Alexa, can be a big help for daily business items. There are a few other contenders out there but the most well-known name spoken for questions must be Alexa. While normally a household item, let’s look at how Amazon’s Alexa can be used in the office as well.
To use Alexa for business, you’ll need one of Amazon’s Alexa enabled solutions. In 2017 more devices are on the way which will be Alexa enabled. But until then, make sure you have one of the official devices. Once configured, you’ll also be able to reference the mobile app on your phone to check the history of things you’ve asked Alexa, configure the new skills below, and get information from questions you’ve asked that would be far too long for Alexa to reply with.
Getting a ride to a meeting
Teaming up with Uber and Lyft, you can quickly call out to have a driver come pick you up. Simply call out the request and Alexa will handle the rest. You can even request an update to find out how far away your driver is.
Check Bank Info
While not available for all banks, Capital One has created a great integration with Alexa. You can ask for account balances, credit availability, car loan details, due dates, or even how much you spent at Starbucks during “meetings” last month.
If you work in the financial industry and can’t seem to get enough tickers or feeds of data, Alexa can add to the pile! There are a few ways to lookup stock prices but I prefer the Motley Fool integration which can tie to your fool.com account. Using the Fool integration you can check on your watchlist, get a general market view, or check individual stocks.
Hear the News
The first thing each morning I like to get up to speed on what’s happening around the world. TV, websites, and radio are cluttered with advertising and hype stories. That’s where the Flash Briefing comes in handy. Alexa will pull from a variety of news stories and podcasts to read you what’s going on in the world. You can tweak and customize the list of sources to better match what’s important to you. Give it a shot by asking, “Alexa, what’s in the news?”
Working with Kayak (and more) Alexa can get a large range of travel info on demand. My favorite feature is the flight tracker. By asking Alexa to ask Kayak to track a flight you can find out if you can head to the airport later, if your colleague is arriving on time, and more. The Kayak skill can also give you hotel options and find travel destinations for vacation.
Check Schedule and Create Appointments
If you currently use Google Calendar (sorry, no Office365 yet) then Alexa has your schedule covered. After enabled, you can ask Alexa for your next scheduled event, what’s going on today, and to create meetings so you don’t forget. This is especially handy when you’re running around the office and remember something you really don’t want to forget.
Beyond simple calendar/meeting help, Alexa can also help juggle tasks. Todoist is a very popular task management solution that syncs tasks with computers, mobile devices, and across staff in a team. Using Alexa you can ask what’s on the to-do list, add tasks to specific task lists, and add tasks with specific due dates and times. You can get quite creative with lists and ways to use this one. If you already use Todoist, it’s a no brainer.
Endless Possibilities – IFTTT
Luckily, the Alexa platform is “open” and allows outside integration. Because of this, we don’t have to wait for Amazon to decide what the options are for using our little helper. Companies can make their own Alexa skills and third parties, like If This Then That, create ties between Alexa and a plethora of other web enable solutions. The preconfigured items on IFTTT is a staggeringly long list. Some examples that you can use are find my phone, control lights and outlets, change the thermostat temperature, keep a spreadsheet of items, control your TV, and much more.
Even with being in its infancy, digital assistants like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana have come a long way. At CES 2017 it was made clear that Alexa is coming to more devices and what we’ve seen above is only the beginning.
It’s a great time to start thinking about how you can take advantage of Alexa for business, as well as other digital assistants to give you more time in your work day and keep you on track. What might someone ask Alexa about you or your business? Perhaps they’ll ask about your business hours or address, try to send you an email or txt, or schedule an appointment with you.