Speaking of voice-activated workplace assistants, here they are!

conference-room

Not long ago, I wrote that it’s “only a matter of time before enterprise IT professionals begin seeing voice-activated devices showing up in offices and workplaces” to act as virtual assistants. For some enterprises, that time is here.

Two enterprise technology companies recently unveiled voice-powered assistants for the workplace.  While one currently features more functionality than the other, both point to the day when voice-activated assistants in the office will be as commonplace as smartphones and tablets.

Alexa for Business

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced in late November a new service based on its Alexa voice assistant for the home, promising enterprise employees “an intelligent assistant to simplify their interactions with the technology around them at work.”

This includes starting conference calls automatically, controlling conference room resources, setting up meetings, tracking progress on work tasks, and managing supply inventory, AWS says. Alexa for Business also can be integrated with popular business productivity and communications software from vendors such as Salesforce, Concur, and Polycom.

Early customers of Alexa for Business include BMC, Brooks Brothers, Capital One, Mitsui USA, Vonage, and WeWork.

In a blog post, Gartner research director Werner Goertz writes, “Alexa For Business, though limited in scope today, points to opportunities for deeper integration and workplace productivity enhancements in the future.”

Goertz envisions a day when office voice assistants will employ voice-biometric authentication, recognize individual speakers, and produce meeting transcriptions and translations.

Cisco Spark Assistant

Earlier in November, Cisco unveiled plans for Cisco Spark Assistant, which it bills as “the world’s first enterprise-ready voice assistant specifically designed for meetings.”

Spark Assistant is designed to make it easier for enterprise workers to start meetings, join and leave meetings, call anyone in their organization, and navigate and control their Cisco Spark devices, the company says.

Down the road Cisco has big plans for Spark Assistant, which the company says eventually will be able to find and book rooms for employees, help with screen- and whiteboard-sharing, record meetings, take notes, locate and present documents, and some unspecified “much more.” (I guess we’ll have to wait to see!)

Cisco says it will begin rolling out Spark Assistant to a small group of Cisco Spark Room Series customers and partners in early 2018.

This is just the beginning, folks, and my voice assistant didn’t tell me to say that.

RELATED LINKS

Is that voice-activated device on the conference table a spy?

Voice command devices: Ear candy or something useful?

The device as the persona

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  1. […] If this year’s holiday sales are any indication, 2018 could be the year that digital voice assistants become common in the workplace. […]

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