It’s starting to feel like the future, huh. The ability to simple speak a fresh pizza into existence with a few key words. If you haven’t started thinking about how to leverage Amazon’s Alexa for your clients, here’s a few things you’ll need to know.
Build “Skills” not Apps
Alexa users have the ability to customize the abilities of their device by adding “Skills” through the Alexa app on their smartphone. This is fairly similar to installing an app on your iPhone or Android. Once installed they can then speak keywords that leverage that skill. Smart home technology is a good example of this. “Alexa, turn on my dining room light”. If they have a set of Hue lightbulbs installed and the Hue Skill added to their device then the lights will come on like magic.
What Types of Skills Can I Create
Currently Amazon categorizes the development of a skill into four types:
- Custom Skill – This is the broadest category and is used to integrate Alexa with your own app/ web service. Think ordering an Uber.
- Smart Home Skill – This allows you to control a cloud-enables smart home device. Think lock the doors or dim the lights.
- Video Skill – Alexa can integrate with smart TV technology such as Amazon Fire TV or DirectTV. This allows you to play movies, change the channel or pause and play.
- Flash Briefing Skill – This is the simplest of the skills and allows you to add content to a users flash briefing. When a user asks “Alexa, what’s the news” they’ll be served up a series of information that by default typically includes: The day, weather and top headlines from a source like NPR. Adding additional info to a flash briefing simply uses an RSS feed to grab the latest content and adds it to the que of a users Flash Briefing. For example you can get Star Wars facts after todays top stories by adding the “This Day in Star Wars History” skill.
Get Your Clients Up and Running with a Flash Briefing Skill
If you have a client that’s ready to dip their toe into the Alexa world, a Flash Briefing skill is probably the easiest and most cost efficient place to start. Especially if they are a thought leader in their category and already generating some sort of daily content it may be as simple as repurposing that content. Utilize a podcast or blog format to create content of value that naturally fits as part of a Flash Briefing. What’s a tip or insight they can share each day that makes customers that much smarter? Keep it as short and sweet as possible. Flash briefings play out content in a que, so if you’re section drags on they may delete your skill. Do it right and a simple investment may make your brand a part of their morning everyday.
To dig deeper or get started building a skill check out the Alexa Skills Kit.