Alexa is an ideal employee. She’s tireless, knowledgeable, always there to help, she never gets upset, and while you might have to repeat yourself a time or two, she typically gets your message. And while you don’t have to give her health insurance, or overtime, Alexa will require a lot of upkeep, and the occasional software update. And, of course, you’ll have to have an Amazon Echo to talk to her.
While Alexa, and Amazon’s interactive speaker, might seem like tech gadgets for folks with smart houses and a love of science fiction, there is a growing suspicion that Alexa might actually be the next big thing for small businesses. So if you don’t have her on staff yet, it might be a good idea to think about.
What Makes Alexa Such An Asset?
Most people think of Alexa as a parlor trick. She can tell you the weather, or remind you to take your meds, or tell you a joke when you ask… but that’s only a small fraction of Alexa’s potential. According to Forbes, Alexa has more than 15,000 skills, and the company seems to be adding more to her repertoire all the time. And while a lot of that repertoire is geared toward consumers, a lot of them are useful for businesses. And as more businesses start using Alexa as a company asset, it’s likely Amazon (and other companies who are trying to develop similar interfaces) will cater to that market. Even without that special skill set, though, Alexa already saves time, effort, and frustration because it’s faster to talk than it is to type. And that’s only going to be more true as time goes on, as The Huffington Post points out.
As a for instance, take Alexa’s potential as an electronic assistant. While she might not have the capabilities of an actual A.I. like we see in comics and movies, she can handle a lot of routine tasks that would otherwise take up a lot of time and effort. Alexa can retrieve client information with nothing more than a simple request, she can make calls (and set up conferences), and she can keep a schedule so that you don’t have to think about it. She can also call up employee information, and answer questions about the folks you keep employed, the clients you’ve worked with, and she can answer all sorts of miscellaneous questions that might come up during your work day.
What Could Alexa Do In The Future?
At the moment, Alexa is very definitely meant for consumers, not for businesses. That hasn’t stopped her from being an invaluable tool for small business owners who need an electronic assistant, though. But it has begged the question about what a version of Alexa (or any of the other, similar programs out there) might look like if they were designed with business in mind?
The current version of Alexa can quickly solve math problems, for example, but what if that were expanded into a tax program where Alexa walked you through your taxes, using an up-to-date database of all the laws and deductions your business qualifies for? Or, if we’re going to the furthest permutation, what if Alexa was fed all your business data so that, at the end of the year, she could automatically generate your tax documents with no additional input from you?
That’s just one possibility of many thousands. For example, Alexa could be used to help customers find what they’re looking for when they browse your stock. She could be used to order new stock, to help customers check out, and to handle all sorts of other tasks. And the more skills Alexa is designed with, the more valuable she’s going to be for business owners.
That’s why it’s a good idea to make friends with her now, so you can get used to her.
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