Thursday, December 7, 2017

The $29.95 Device That Will Forever Change the Way You Do Business

Alexa, is my house in production?

Alexa, tell Anthony I want that change order added to the kitchen.

Alexa, has the set crew confirmed the date for the Johnson house?”

In years past Alexa would have been your secretary or personal assistant. A real live person that tried to efficiently juggle all the balls you kept throwing at them. Today Alexa is not a living, breathing person. Instead it is Amazon’s answer to not dropping any of those balls you’ve been juggling on your own.

If you think that nobody could ever take over the duties of your assistant and do a better job, think again. Your human “Alexa” is about to become as obsolete as telephone operators or AOL dial-up.

It’s here already and will soon take over our lives. ECHO from Amazon and it’s $29.95 offspring DOT will probably be the #1 selling item for Christmas this year. Amazon’s little helpers set on your desk, living room, workshop and even resides in your phone ready for you to communicate with your modular home factory, your sales reps, modular home builder, the factory’s engineering department and your customers and prospective home buyers.

The latest ads and video tutorials for Echo are an obvious signal of intent: Amazon is on the march for (even) more user terrain. After Prime and dash buttons gained significant ground, Alexa and the possibilities of hands-free everything, could very well be the final step to Amazon’s absolute commercial dominance. A world in which you can read the news, recite recipes, manage your calendar, control your home’s smart devices and play music—all without hands—is a world that Amazon dominates hands down.

The device opens up a new realm of marketing opportunities for companies through voice-automated apps called “Skills,” which anyone can develop and distribute on the mother platform.

To increase Alexa’s attractiveness to users, Amazon is enticing a slew of companies to join the platform as developers of the aforementioned voice-activated Skills. Unsurprisingly, many companies jumped at the chance to hop on Amazon’s new platform.

Currently, there are over 10,000 Skills available in the US Skills store which is pretty good considering that it only launched last year.  Companies around the world seem to be more than happy to bet on Alexa being a major success—and thus reaping the lucrative potential rewards.

The big question every modular home factory and modular home builder has to ask themselves is what does Alexa ‘tell’ someone that asks about your business or your modular home?

What you think will make a great Christmas or Birthday present for you kids will soon begin moving into every phase of your personal and business lives.

Here are just some of Alexa’s 'Business Skills’ currently in use:

Email Management
Managing emails can be time consuming. The ‘Astrobot’ skill lets you manage your Gmail or Office 365 email from your Amazon Echo. With this skill, Alexa can read, reply and manage your emails, as well as help you prioritize new ones.
Additional functions include delete, archive, quick replies and more.

Website Monitoring
With the Vigil website monitoring skill, you can ask Alexa to report on the status of your websites. As more small businesses add more sites, knowing they are up and running at all times will ensure your customers can access your services.
When a site is down, Vigil automatically sends a push notification so you can fix the problem.

Managing Schedules
Staying on top of your schedule when you have one too many things to do can get overwhelming. FreeBusy Scheduling Assistant uses Alexa to coordinate meetings so you never miss your appointments. You can check the availability of individuals using contacts and syncing with Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, Google Calendar, and iCloud.

Finding Your Business
As a modular home builder, you never know when someone is beginning the search for a new home. The skill brings together more than 1 million service providers which could just as easily include you. All your customer will soon have to do is ask Alexa “Find me a modular home builder near me” , and it will connect them hopefully with you within minutes.

Providing Reminders
The combination of Alexa and Remember The Milk, a proven reminder app is a marriage made in digital heaven. Using this skill, you can hear what is due on a particular date. You can also add tasks for meetings, pay invoices and other tasks you might forget because of your busy schedule. You can also give tasks to your contacts on RememberTheMilk, such as reminding one of your employees to deliver something.

Tracking Factory Shipments
I understand that a Skill being developed for Jones Trucking will soon be available to let the company know where each of their trucks are, ETA, fuel consumption, average speed and will access the truck driver’s eLog all with a simple verbal question to Alexa. The idea that a modular home builder can know instantly where the trucks carrying their customer is and the ETA should make life a little less stressful.

Keeping Track of Business Travel
Small business owners usually make their own travel arrangements. The Expedia for Alexa skill provides information about the entire itinerary, make reservations and reminds you what to pack. This includes details about your upcoming trips, check your flight status, book you a rental car, and even check your loyalty points.

Managing Conferences
Audio and video conferences play a great role in today’s collaborative workforce environment. The Conference Manager skill from Vonage interfaces with Google Calendar to detect your next conference and dial it for you. By simply saying “start my call” to Alexa, it will extract the conference information, dial the bridge number, meeting number, participant code and make the call.The platform also supports WebEx, Goto Meeting, BlueJeans and Vonage Business conferencing solutions.
Connecting With Wunderlist
Wunderlist is popular task manager app, and Task Master is a skill linking it directly to the app. Once it is linked, you can access lists to add tasks, find out what is due, view your inbox and more.

Staying in Touch With Your Team
SoftServe’s VoiceMyBot  helps you stay in touch with your team. With a simple command to Alexa, this skill lets you listen to a user feed or a notification feed.
You can listen to recent messages and check on the status of projects.
Providing Business Intelligence
As small businesses increase their presence digitally, being able to monitor sales, unit sales, and best or worst sales with reports provides valuable information for making informed decisions. With SalesTalk, which combines customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) you can use Alexa to ask for these reports.

Keeping up With Google Analytics
Having a website for ecommerce means using analytics to measure different metrics. Unofficial Google Analytics links with your Google analytics account and lets you get the information by asking Alexa. You can ask for the number of page views for a single day, between two dates and more.

Sending SMS Texts
Created by Convessa, Mastermind uses Alexa so you can send and read SMS text messages, make and answer phone calls, caller ID, find your phone, get notifications and launch apps on your mobile device and television. This skill can be used for business and personal communications.
Using Slack With Alexa
Slack is a collaboration tool used by businesses of all sizes. The Alexa skill from PromptWorks called Chat Bot for Slack is not created, affiliated with, or supported by Slack Technologies, Inc. However, you can link Alexa to your Slack account and post messages to communicate with your team.

What is the Downside of Using Alexa?
Amazon is doing all the right things to create a platform in which developers can easily create skills. This of course has led to a dramatic rise of available skills for consumers and businesses. The downside of using Alexa for businesses at this very moment is the technology is going through some growing pains. And for businesses, they can ill afford to have system in place that can be prone mistakes, no matter how few they are.

1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

Hi Coach,

Many thanks for mentioning the skill in your article - I really appreciate it!

If you'd like to head over to Intently and sign up, I will give your business a free account to show my appreciation ;-)