Are Alexa apps the way forward?

Intelligent Sourcing magazine’s time yesterday was taken up with a Teleperformance round table, for which we’re grateful. Huge amounts of information on the public sector’s consideration of robotics and AI were under discussion but we came away with one major idea.

A local authority, which nobody would name, has developed an app using Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated artificial intelligence app.

There are implications. Presumably someone has sat down with a spreadsheet and decided that this sort of AI is going to be wider-spread than it is at the moment, and increasingly affordable. It gets better – they have put their money on Amazon rather than Google, which has a comparable device on the market, or Apple, which has announced one, delayed it and will no doubt end up looking as if it had invented the entire sector. Again.

The people who need to watch out for this, though, are…anyone whose business depends on being found through Google or other Internet search. Check “what’s the number of a good local plumber” on a screen-based search engine and you’ll get pages of responses, although nobody much looks beyond the first few.

Alexa will give you one answer. So the information that goes into any underlying database had better be good. And the new forms of SEO that get a company to the top of Alexa will need to be sharp, and the people feeding pages into it even sharper.

This could be a bigger game changer than anyone had previously suspected. And of course it started in a contact centre.

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