Report: Amazon to unveil ‘Alexa for Business,’ expanding voice assistant into workplace

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels will deliver the Thursday keynote at AWS re:Invent. (GeekWire File Photo)

Amazon is preparing to bring its Alexa voice-based assistant into the workplace, according to a report by CNBC this afternoon.

The news could be announced as early as Thursday at Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. CNBC cites four unnamed sources in its report and says several Alexa sessions at the event, the names of which have been kept under wraps, will focus on Alexa’s features and skills for workers and businesses, including how to build a smart conference room with Alexa.

Microsoft and Amazon announced plans this year to connect Alexa with the Redmond company’s Cortana voice-based assistant, but a move by Alexa into the workplace and productivity applications would put the two virtual assistants in more direct competition.

Alexa has so far been targeted to the home, through Amazon’s Echo devices and a growing array of third-party hardware. Companies including Bellevue, Wash.-based Acumatica have experimented with Alexa in enterprise settings, running into stumbling blocks including a lack of user authentication to identify who is speaking and grant access based on their permissions.

Amazon highlighted Acumatica’s warehouse demonstration in April with this caveat at the time: “While Alexa isn’t yet intended for the enterprise, we are always thrilled to see the Alexa developer community experimenting and pushing boundaries.”

Now it appears that’s changing. Stay tuned for continuing coverage from AWS re:Invent on GeekWire.

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