Fast Company voted Amazon as the most innovative company for 2017. The company made significant strides in the area of cloud computing & artificial intelligence besides e-commerce last year. Jeff Bezos, the companies founder, was always in the news for the work Blue Origin was doing in the aerospace domain. Alexa Skills & Amazon Lex are among the new suite of innovations that the marketers can leverage unveiled by the company our the past few months.
Amazon sold over 3.1 million Alexa devices in Q4 2016 taking the total to 8.2 million echo devices sold since launch. Echo is a voice-powered assistant developed by Amazon and was launched by the company in December 2014. The brand has added more products to Alexa range of devices including Echo Dot & Tap. Amazon describes Echo as a hands-free speaker that users can control using their voice. Echo uses Alexa’s voice service and lets you do a whole bunch of things like play music, orders products from Amazon, listen to latest news and more.
Besides the existing capabilities, Echo is updated using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) which can be used by developers, designers, and brands to add a new set of capabilities to the platform. Take for example you can ask Alexa to play latest TED talks or listen to a flash briefing from BBC News. Amazon has a added over 10,000 skills from brands and developers over the past two years.
There is more to Alexa Skills than what meets the eye. Users don’t actively use all skills. Of the 10,000 skills available on the platform roughly 69% skills have less than three users. There is a long tail of Alexa users. The most used skills on Alexa are setting the kitchen timer, listening to news and music.
Brands using Alexa Skills
Echo allows you to book a cab ride using Uber. All you have to do is download the Uber Skill and add your location to the Alexa map to make sure Echo knows your exact location. Once you are ready, use voice command by saying ‘Ask Uber to get me a car.’ You can choose your preference for the car and also cancel the car if required.
Arsenal football club has been the latest to join the Amazon Alexa Skills bandwagon. Enabling Arsenal Skill allows users to see match stats, live commentary, post-match analysis and more.
You can link your credit or debit card to Alexa, and by enabling the Capital One skill on Echo, users can ask for check account balance and take note of recent transactions. Capital One also plans to roll out new updates which will allow users even to transfer money.
Amazon also recently launched metrics dashboard which can be used by brands and developers to track the performance and improve on intents that have more usage and chuck out the ones that don’t work.
If you are a brand that wants to leverage Alexa Skills than you can find more details on Alexa Skills Kit here. Amazon has further divided Alexa Skills into custom, smart home and flash briefing skills. To help the developers further Amazon also has a voice design best practices guide to get you started.
Amazon Lex is relatively newer compared to Alexa Skills. Amazon Lex is a service that allows brands to add conversational interfaces powered by voice or search into applications they build. Amazon Lex is equipped with the same deep learning technologies that power Amazon Alexa. Amazon Lex uses a pay-as-you-use model and integrates with Amazon Web Services which is a huge advantage considering their existing clientele. Google also bundles its AI services with its cloud offering.
How does Amazon Lex work?
Amazon Lex tries to identify the intent using its speech recognition and natural language processing capabilities. Based on the intent it captures more information if required using slots. Slots capture input data and allow fulfillment of the intent requested by the user.
Amazon Lex current clientele includes HubSpot, FreshDesk, NASA, Capital One, etc. Amazon Lex is now also open to all developers and brands for integration. Amazon Lex can support scale considering the experience it has from Alexa devices and AWS platform. Your brand can leverage Amazon Lex in the chatbots you are building or can also be integrated into enterprise applications to provide a seamless experience. You can read more about Amazon Lex and its capabilities here.