Written for Hiscox Informed – small business knowledge centre
Paul Bryant looks at the rising popularity of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, with its famous Alexa voice assistant, and finds out how you could use this tech in your business…
Smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo – the hardware that is home to the now famous digital voice assistant, Alexa – have become a common feature in many homes around the world.
The USA leads the way with around 45 million speakers and over 18% of adults owning one. In the UK, YouGov research shows that they are not quite as ubiquitous, with market penetration of 10% in early 2018. But that number is growing quickly. It doubled from 5% in less than 6 months.
Amazon is far and away the market leader with almost 70% market share in the US and 75% in the UK. That share is dropping in both markets as heavyweight competitors; including Google, Apple and Microsoft; play catch up.
In the small business market, Alexa isn’t very busy yet. But that might change.
Alexa – a quick primer
In UK homes, the most common uses of Alexa are to play music, ask general questions (perhaps, ‘What time is the royal wedding?’), set alarms and reminders, and to get news and weather updates.
Some of these features are provided ‘out-of-the-box’ by Amazon, similar to a smartphone with some pre-installed apps. But the usefulness of Alexa really starts expanding when new ‘skills’ are added. A skill is the voice assistant equivalent of a smartphone app. Amazon provides some, while third party developers can do the same.
Amazon is actively encouraging developers to boost the number of skills in its ‘skills store’, and also to help businesses maintain and improve the existing skills being used.