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Let's Talk

Jan

13

2016

How To Add Flair To Your Office With An Amazon Echo

Company Culture

You probably spend the majority of your waking hours at your office during the week, so shouldn't it be a place you like to be? Are you tired of trying to coax decent sound out of your tiny computer speakers? Amazon to the rescue! The Amazon Echo is a hands-free, voice-controlled speaker that can provide you with entertainment as well as valuable information that can enhance your work day. 

We recently purchased our own Echo for the SpinWeb office, so we wanted to share a little of what we've learned about it.

Set Up

Getting your Amazon Echo (or, if you prefer to be more informal with your new best friend, Alexa) set up is pretty simple. Pull it out of the box, plug it in, and download the Alexa app onto a smart phone, tablet or desktop web browser. Turn Alexa on, connect to the wi-fi as instructed on the app, and then start talking! 

How does it work?

Your Echo responds to a "wake word" that you set; you can use "Alexa", "Amazon" or "Echo" as the wake word, and the Echo instantly responds once it hears the word. If you have more than one device you can set up each device to have it's own name or wake word.

Speak Out

The Amazon Echo is, first and foremost, a solid bluetooth speaker. You and your team can enjoy crisp, clear tunes as you work, you can listen to an audiobook or you can build a playlist that can help set the mood for your next meeting. Alexa connects to:

  • Amazon Music
  • Prime Music
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • Audible

All you need to do to link any of these services to your Echo is open the Alexa app, select the streaming service of your choice, and sign in on the page that appears. The bluetooth function allows you to connect to iTunes, if that's your preference.

Eager to Assist

Have you ever daydreamed about having a personal assistant? Alexa is here to fulfill your fantasy. Say, for example, you notice you're running low on office supplies. Alexa will save the day with a well-timed order, ensuring that you'll never find yourself staple-less again. If you're an Amazon Prime member (and if you're not, WHAT IS STOPPING YOU?), you can ask Alexa to re-order items in your order history.

Should the item you need not be present in your order history, Alexa will suggest Amazon's Choice, which is a highly-rated item with Prime shipping that matches the description of your request, or she'll offer to simply put the item in your cart for you to review prior to placing the order.

A couple clicks on the Alexa app can set up your payment method of choice, and you can make Alexa confirm with you before placing the order. You can even set up a list specifically for items you plan to order from Alexa – there's an Alexa Shopping List available in the list dropdown.

Screenshot_38.png

Information, Please

Alexa can provide hands-free answers to all your pressing traffic and weather questions, as well as the latest news of the day. When you're running out to meet a client, but you're not sure how much travel time you'll need, Alexa's got your back. With Alexa on your team, you'll be on time, well informed and dressed in a seasonally appropriate manner. Are you hungry? Alexa can order you a pizza from Domino's. Are you now in a post-pizza haze and too tired to drive home? Alexa can arrange for Uber to drive you home. With some minor office modifications, you can even ask Alexa to turn the lights on and off. We're living in a magical time.

Check out these FAQs on Amazon to learn more about voice commands and more. Here's something interesting I learned about voice services. The FAQ aks "Will the voice services improve over time?"

"Answer: Yes, Alexa is developed to get better over time. Alexa uses your voice recordings and other information, including from third-party services, to answer your questions, fulfill your requests, and improve your experience and our services. When you set up your Alexa-enabled product or link third-party services with Alexa, Alexa begins processing some information, such as your music playlists. You can also help us improve the voice services by providing feedback within History or by using Voice Training in the Alexa App."

Culture Club

Alexa has contributed a little bit of flair to our office culture at SpinWeb. There are many fun features, you could easily spend hours exploring the options. Look here for some Easter Eggs and games available with just a few carefully chosen words. We at SpinWeb have truly enjoyed having Alexa in the office.

In fact, Michael and Abby had Alexa as a guest on a recent episode of SpinRadio, and she mostly behaved herself.

Buyer beware: Alexa may cause inter-office wars.

Hopefully, Alexa's awesomeness won't pit coworker against coworker, as it did for us today.

"Alexa, play 'Hamilton'!"

"Alexa, stop playing 'Hamilton'!"  

(It's okay. Alexa can break the tension with a joke.)

Allison_Hamilton.jpg

Cost

The Amazon Echo is available at Amazon.com for $179.99.  If you're looking for something a little smaller, you can get the Echo Dot, which is essentially Alexa's sweet baby sister, for $89.99.

How do you enhance your office culture? Would you consider adding Alexa to the mix? Let us know in the comments below!

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