Amazon, on October 9th had brought into action its new feature “Alexa for Business”. This feature lets users check availability and reserve conference rooms using Alexa. Finding and booking a conference room for a last-minute meeting is frequently a stressful, time-consuming task for many people. The addition is part of the Alexa for Business platform. The whole platform works with linked calendars from either Google’s G Suite or Microsoft Exchange, as well as over an API, which will be arriving soon.
This is a feature that is part of Amazon’s broader plan. Amazon wants to put Alexa to work apart from just home. At last year’s AWS Reinvent conference, Amazon first launched its Alexa for Business platform to allow companies to build out their own skills and integrations for practical business use cases. Amazon also spoke of integrations that would allow Alexa to support productivity tools and enterprise services. It is also including those from Microsoft, Concur, Splunk, and others.
Soon after the conference meet, Amazon’s early partner WeWork started using Amazon’s Echo devices in some of its meeting rooms. This was to test out how the smart assistant could be useful for things like managing meeting room reservations. Apparently, this included shutting off or turning on lights as well. Now, Amazon wants to make booking rooms themselves possible just by asking Alexa.
How It Works
Finding and booking a conference room for a last-minute meeting is frequently a stressful situation. Unfortunately, it’s a time-consuming task for many people. Amazon explains its common in workplaces for people to walk from room to room to grab a space for an ad-hoc meeting. Sadly, to reserve a room they often have got to pull out their laptop, run an application, do a search. After which they will have to look through the search results to find an available room.
On the other hand, for Business, users can check the current or future availability of the conference room. All they have to do is ask, “Alexa, is this room free?”, or “Alexa, is this room free at 4?”. Alternatively, they can reserve the room by saying “Alexa, book this room for half an hour”, or “Alexa, reserve this room at 2”. Conference rooms that are open might actually be reserved for a meeting. Hence, users can identify who owns the current reservation by asking, “Alexa, who booked this room?”. This way they can find out if the meeting is actually happening or not.
IT administrators can enable this feature by linking their Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, or Google G-Suite calendaring systems in the Alexa for Business console and allowing read/write permissions. Existing customers must re-link their Office 365 and G Suite calendars and update their Microsoft Exchange permissions.