Amazon wants its virtual assistant Alexa to become your newest colleague.

The online retail giant is expected to announce Thursday the launch of Alexa for Business, a system that can book conference rooms, start meetings, and perform other functions in the workplace.

Since Amazon launched Alexa and its Echo speaker, the company has been adding new features to make the technology useful in office settings. For example, workers can use voice commands to dim lights, start a project in a conference room, and lower the room's blinds. Additionally, the company wants software developers to build Alexa into apps that order office supplies and manage work calendars, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon must overcome some obstacles to win over enterprise customers. For example, employers may not want to use Alexa for Business devices in crowded workplaces for fear of exposing sensitive information.

Regardless of how many businesses adopt Amazon's virtual assistant, overall demand for the technology appears to be robust: Investment bank RBC Capital Markets predicts there could be 128 million Alexa device installations by 2020. 

Amazon is just one of several tech giants vying to dominate the voice recognition space, as analysts believe that is the new way people will interact with technology, according to the Journal. Alphabet, Apple, and Microsoft have also developed virtual assistants that are now being used in the workplace.

Published on: Nov 30, 2017