Before Amazon Echo has even hit the virtual shelves, many tech journalists are predicting that Echo, and connected devices like it, are the future of computers. Smart devices like the Google Nest are making our houses and our electronics easier to control; the automated devices learn your preferences and adjust to them so you don't even have to touch them. Even light switches and batteries may soon be connected. It is designed to be a virtual assistant for your home, but it can be adapted to suit the needs of many small offices.
1. Echo Will Make Having To Wait For You a Better Experience
Waiting for someone is never fun. It only hurts if the person outside can hear you, which is why many places like to use white noise machines to fill the air with ambient sounds. Such an item can set you back almost $100, which, coincidentally, is the same price as an Echo. The album "Sounds of the Ocean" is free on Amazon Prime Music, or you can stream it and tracks like it without commercials for free. Not only does it do that, you can ask it for the weather, definition, or even a joke, and it will tell you the answer. For people who have lots of time on their hands, this little distraction will make time go by much faster.
2. Echo Will Keep Your Office From Running Out of Supplies
A modern office needs to buy tons of things to keep humming smoothly, from everyday objects like pens and toner, to expensive items like printers and computer screens. When an office is running low on supplies, it doesn't just replenish itself by magic--but one day it might. Echo is designed to recognize different voices, so it can most likely authorize some voices to make purchases instantly, and other voices to add to the shopping list. Whenever an office is low on supplies, just let Echo know and Amazon will do the rest.
3. Echo May Integrate With Other Popular Office Software
There are many possible uses for Echo in the office that, so far, Amazon has not advertised, but would be very easy for them to do. The voice recognition can be combined with Google Calendar to add an appointment, and add secondary information at the same time--Google Calendar today has a "quick add," but to add details you need to click on the date. Similarly, it might integrate with Outlook to add contacts. Echo may also be able to add notes to a profile, in much the same way it adds milk to your shopping list. You can have it read back these notes to easily remind yourself of important details about a client.
4. Echo Will Be Your Best Secretary
Echo should be able to handle many things that a good boss would never put her office assistant through. Amazon Echo will be able to follow news and Twitter feeds for mention of certain names and products, and be able to read them aloud on command. Echo will also be able to sort through emails, possibly by both the sender and certain key words, and alert you in real time. It might also be able to transcribe an entire conversation.
5. It Will Control Your Smart Office
In a smart office, many devices will communicate with each other. Echo will be used to control everything by voice. You can tell Echo you're going home, and as soon as the door closes the lights go out, the computer goes to sleep, and the door locks behind you. When you get into work, you can have it turn everything on. You can also give yourself a to-do list to plan the day.
As of this writing, what Amazon Echo will and won't do is not known for sure. Echo is available only by invitation, and no tech journalists have so far been able to get an early model to review. When Google introduced both Gmail and Google Plus, they were invite-only as well. This semi-exclusive beta testing allows Amazon to work the kinks out of their device before it is available to the public. Amazon Echo is uniquely suited to a small scale test because it literally listens to what you want. If there's something it can't do, it will silently report it to Amazon, and perhaps that feature will be available in the next upgrade. In other words, the more testers who bring Echo to the office with them, the better it will be for every office.
About the author:
Reuben Yonatan (@reubenyonatan) is the founder and CEO at GetVoIP - a comparison resource for communication solutions. Writer on various publications, and featured in dozens of interviews and podcasts. My writings blend commentary, research, and perspective on ecommerece trends, business strategies, leadership, enterprise communication, and at times just my two cents.