Amazon is soon to announce Alexa for Business, and WeWork is one of the first partners to have hopped on the platform.
WeWork’s vision is to use technology to help businesses make the most out of their physical space, all while customizing that space to each individual’s personal needs.
The co-working giant has been on the Alexa for Business platform for about a month now, as part of the beta, and has integrated Echos in meeting rooms at the Chelsea HQ. The testing has only been available to WeWork employees, not members, to better understand the various use cases of Alexa for Business.
With WeWork, users can utilize the ‘ask WeWork’ skill to extend a meeting room reservation, see which meeting rooms are empty, or ask when the next meeting in that room is scheduled to start. Users can also dim the lights or turn them on or off.
WeWork has also integrated Alexa for Business with Zendesk so users can report a problem in the room with their voice.
“One of the big challenges is not networking these devices together or integrating them with the building, but rather understanding who’s speaking,” said Josh Emig, head of R&D at WeWork. “Right not, Alexa is tied to rooms and not individuals, but we’re interested in what it would look like if Alexa relied on an actual identity. We’re thinking about different ways to accomplish that.”
Alexa for Business fits in with WeWork’s overall brand quite nicely. On one end, WeWork is all about the way people interface with physical space, and Alexa is currently the most frictionless interface on the market. But, more importantly, WeWork wants to make its hundreds of spaces feel like home to its thousands of members.
The vision is to let you sit down at a desk, anywhere from London to Los Angeles, and with a single swipe of your phone, enjoy all the customization that you’d enjoy at your own desk, from the height of the desk to the temperature to the lighting. With the Alexa iPhone app, WeWork could build on the existing Alexa for Business infrastructure in the building to let people make requests direct from their phone, without needing an Echo in the room.
Plus, Alexa for Business adds yet another feather to the Powered by We cap, which is a big focus at WeWork. You can think of Powered by We as WeWork’s white label product, wherein larger companies essentially hire WeWork to handle the process of securing, renovating, outfitting and decorating a new HQ or office. As an early partner, WeWork should have worked out all the kinks and have a strong understanding of the various use cases, able to provide a wide array of skills and tools that can be activated by voice to those Powered by We customers.
For now, Alexa for business is only available employees in the Chelsea HQ, but it will soon be deployed to regional HQ offices and then to enterprise WeWork customers.