Alexa Will Become the Default Digital Assistant for Your home but Will Have to Battle Cortana in the Enterprise

Amazon Alexa is steadily expanding its role from being the platform behind popular consumer devices such as Echo or Dot to become the default broker for voice-driven devices in home environments. With more and more start devices supporting and integrating with Alexa [35 devices announced Alexa integration at CES], the cloud service is increasingly becoming a gateway for voice integration between users and devices.

In terms of technical capabilities, Amazon Alexa seems to be leading the highly competitive digital assistant market. In addition to its dominance in the gome space, Alexa is starting to make solid inroads in the enterprise. However, differently from home environments, Alexa is likely to face at least one formidable competitor in the enterprise: Microsoft Cortana.

Looking at the digital assistant market, Alexa and Cortana seems better equipped to power voice experiences in the enterprise than competitors such as Google Allo or Apple Siri. To understand that point, we should consider some of the factors that will be essential to streamline voice integrations in the enterprise.

5 Essential Capabilities of Voice Digital Assistants in the Enterprise

Here are some of the fundamental elements that both Alexa and Cortana will need to enable in order to streamline its adoption in the enterprise.

1-Multi-Device Experience: From Smartphone’s, wearable’s to conference room experiences, enterprise voice assistant will need to operate across more than one device. Alexa is widely supported across many devices while Cortana is already included as part of Windows 10.

2 — Voice Connectors or Skills: Integrating with back-office systems is another essential aspect to adopt voice interactions in the enterprise. Alexa already includes several SaaS connectors and Cortana should be able to bring this capability to life soon.

3 — SaaS Distributions: Just like mobile apps, voice bots are likely to be mostly adopted via other SaaS and back-office systems solutions. Cortana’s integration with Office365 and Dynamics365 can become a catalyzer in this area. Given its popularity, Alexa is likely to see integration with some of the top SaaS systems in the market.

4 — Voice Identity Management: In order to be adopted in the enterprise, voice digital assistants will need to correlate user’s voice with their corporate credentials as well as their credentials on different corporate systems. Microsoft’s footprint in the enterprise with technologies such as Active Directory Federation Services and Azure Active Directory gives Cortana a strong edge in this aspect.

5 — Skills Management Experience: Just like mobile app stores, voice digital assistants in the enterprise should enable the provisioning, configuration and management of Skills that can be used on voice-driven business applications. This capability might translate onto the implementation of private, dedicate versions of alexa and Cortana skills management portals.

5 Quick Points that Compare Alexa and Cortana in the Enterprise

Comparing Alexa and Cortana’s potential in the enterprise is a bit speculative at this point. However, below, I’ve summarized a series of quick facts that I believe should be considered by people thinking about this area:

1 — Alexa has a better and more complete Skills portfolio.

2 — Cortana currently has a stronger potential for building large distribution channels driven by systems such as Office365 and Dynamics365.

3 — Alexa is supported in a larger number of smart devices that are relevant in the enterprise.

4 — Cortana has the edge on enterprise security based on the large footprint of Active Directory Federation Services and Azure Active directory.

5 — Neither assistant currently has an advantage when comes to integration with enterprise backed systems. However, Cortana might be able to leverage Microsoft robust integration services such as Flow and LogicApps.

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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