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Alexa For Small Businesses: What You Need to Know

By K Mullan   |    July 17, 2018   |    4:26 PM

Are Alexa’s ‘Skills’ Useful For a Small Business?

There are two types of virtual assistants, human and digital (learn more about the difference here) that you can use in your business.

We talk about human virtual assistants a lot here at Intelligent Office, but there are also a variety of digital virtual assistant tools that you can use to automate tasks. One of the most popular tools is Amazon’s Alexa, which makes it (relatively) easy for businesses to tap into the power of voice control.

If you love having Alexa in your home and try to use it whenever possible, it may be time to see how this voice-controlled tool can help you do more at the office. Here's what you need to know to get started with Alexa in your own business.

First, check Amazon’s Skill Finder for Alexa

If you’re a skilled developer or programmer, Amazon makes it easy to build custom skills that mesh perfectly with business needs.

If software development isn’t your forte. Amazon has curated a lengthy list of Alexa Skills, which can be found here. If you look to the left-hand menu, you’ll also notice a number of different categories. Many of the actions that are useful in an office can be found under the ‘Business & Finance’ sub-category.

The most useful Alexa Skills for businesses

Searching through Amazon’s catalogue of skills can be a project of its own, but here are some of the most useful skills you can utilize:

Manage email with Astrobot

Have Alexa read your emails out loud while you enjoy your morning coffee or get the office organized. The tool uses Artificial Intelligence to categorize emails based on your Priority Inbox, starred emails, and more. You can also snooze, delete, or send off a quick response.

Keep tabs on your Shopify store

With the Shopify Alexa skill, eCommerce businesses using Shopify can ask Alexa for a business summary, get sales reports, determine which orders need to be fulfilled, and more.

Access travel information with Expedia

If you travel for work frequently, Expedia’s integration with Alexa may be useful. By enabling this skill, users have on-demand access to important travel information. You can get trip updates, flight status, information about connections, and more.

Schedule meetings with QuickEvents

Quickly add a meeting or event to your Google Calendar with this skill. It also checks for conflicting events.

Manage your phone with Mastermind

This highly-reviewed app is in beta at the time of writing, and you’ll need to join the waitlist or make a one-time $15 payment to use it. Once you have access, use this skill to send and read SMS text messages, make and answer phone calls, find your phone, get notifications, launch apps on your phone or TV, and more.

Alexa’s small business capabilities are still under development

Admittedly, this new technology is experiencing growing pains and its businesses uses are relatively narrow.

But, even if you don’t use Alexa for daily business operations, it does represent a very interesting move toward more voice-controlled searches and software. In that sense, it could be worth learning more about these tools, especially since they’ll become more powerful and useful over time.