Amazon seems intent on taking over the world. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but it’s clear that the retailer-cum-tech giant isn’t satisfied with just dominating the consumer marketplace. Between Amazon Business and the increasingly enterprise-friendly Echo platform, Amazon is clearly making a concerted effort to expand its reach into the office as well as the home. Not everyone is happy about this aggressive expansionism, but understanding and embracing it could be a boon for your company.
Smart Tech: From Home to Business
The Internet of Things has already proven to be a hit in the home, where the power to connect all manner of everyday objects into one coherent, voice-controlled network enables greater convenience, capability and even the potential for savings. The Amazon Echo can control power-saving smart thermostats and smart lights, innovative smart cameras and home security systems and much more with simple voice commands, and recent updates have even made it possible to handle shopping and peer-to-peer transactions through the same conversational interface. Now, those same capabilities are coming to the workplace.
Because the Echo ties seamlessly into Amazon’s larger ecosystem, its fit in the office is a natural one. Amazon Business offers steep discounts and a diverse catalog of business products, and the Echo’s ability to place hands-free orders makes procurement a virtually effortless affair. Combined with the impressive power of the Alexa Skills Kit SDK and a seamless integration with Amazon Web Services, the possibilities for innovative businesses are virtually endless. The Echo also provides a convenient way to manage communications and remote collaboration between employees, particularly with the video-capable Echo Show.
The Amazon Effect
From its beginnings as an e-commerce company, Amazon has grown to become a driving force in cloud computing, consumer technology and a litany of other niches. This rapid growth has turned Amazon into a ubiquitous and powerful presence, bringing with it important shifts in the market and in society as a whole. With its entry into the business world, these impacts will only grow. Amazon has already dealt a near-fatal blow to the brick-and-mortar retail industry, and with the explosive growth of Amazon Business, it may be poised to put a similar squeeze on traditional B2B distributors. With a diverse and comprehensive ecosystem – the Echo integrates well with Amazon Business as well as the highly popular Amazon Web Services platform – it’s likely that forward-thinking business owners will be quick to embrace Amazon’s enterprise side.
Challenging the King
Though Amazon is far and away the leader in the smart speaker and online retail markets, it isn’t without its challengers. Microsoft has long dominated the office technology space, and its answer to the Amazon Echo – the Harman Kardon Invoke – brings a powerful set of business tools to the table. The Invoke offers integration with Microsoft’s full suite of productivity tools, and Cortana, the artificial intelligence platform behind the device, boasts powerful natural-language recognition. The Google Assistant platform has lagged behind in its push into the enterprise world, but the introduction of a feature-rich software development kit, integration with Google Docs and increasingly sophisticated and powerful AI capability will no doubt make Assistant-powered smart devices a compelling option moving forward.
Business Security in the Age of Smart Tech
If there remains a major hurdle to more widespread adoption of smart technologies in the business space, it’s likely to be lingering concerns over security. An insufficiently protected Amazon Echo can easily be turned into a covert listening device, and conducting sensitive business over an IoT network could potentially expose data to theft. Any business that intends to use the Echo or similar platforms will need to have a comprehensive cybersecurity plan in place, including guidelines covering password management, digital best practices and bring your own device (BYOD) policies.
Voice-controlled smart technologies hold a great deal of potential for enterprise use, and Amazon looks poised to lead the way. Whether you’re looking to streamline your purchasing and procurement processes, make your communications and remote work more powerful or simply save a few dollars through greater efficiency, you’d do well to explore the possibilities afforded by Amazon’s push into the business world.
Author: Maricel Tabalba