Poly targets hands-free use cases with Alexa for Business for Zoom Rooms with Poly

Alexa for Business for Zoom Rooms with Poly is initially targeted at the COVID sensitive market as companies return some of their workforce to the office, but they see the longer term use cases as extending well beyond that.

Today, Poly is announcing the availability in the U.S. of Alexa for Business for Zoom Rooms with Poly. The new solution simplifies the enablement and management of Alexa for Business by building it directly into the Zoom Management Portal. It then offers a hands-free, voice activated user experience.

AWS introduced Alexa for Business to great fanfare at its AWS: Reinvent event in late 2017, but while Alexa as a consumer product has continued to do extremely well, the business product has had some challenges.

“Alexa for Business has struggled a bit,” said Beau Wilder, vice president and general manager of video collaboration at Poly. “The privacy issues in the enterprise have been paramount to solve. Voice driven has been just ‘a nice to have’ as a result.

Poly sees the nature of demand for this changing in the later stages of COVID, as companies  begin to return some people to the office, however.

“As we all go back to the office, we believe that being voice driven will be more critical than ever,” Wilder said.  “It is becoming a mission critical value-add for our customers, particularly since it allows you to give reminders without having to touch anything. We think being voice-driven in mid-COVID is a killer app.”

That hands-free capability becomes much more salient in the COVID environment, Wilder stressed.

“The primary use case in a mid-COVID world is that hands-free experience, where you don’t have to touch things other people have touched,” he said.

COVID will end at some point, however, and Wilder said that Alexa for Business for Zoom Rooms with Poly will continue to have differentiating value in the post-COVID environment.

“Hands-free control is another way we innovate,” he said. “It goes beyond just starting or ending a meeting. That initial use case provides an instant learning curve of having a voice-driven experience, across all room sizes. You don’t have to worry about actual setup in the room because you can instruct the device to do things like close the blinds.” Zoom Rooms’ users will also be able to ask Alexa to join meetings and book rooms, without having to purchase additional Alexa-enabled devices.

Poly Studio X Series with TC8 touch interface, G7500 video conferencing system, and Trio C60 smart conference phone and the Trio 8500 and Trio 8800 smart conference phones, all of which are certified Zoom Rooms Appliances, feature Alexa for Business capabilities.

“I think this will have equal play across all room size,” Wilder stated. “Poly strives for a consistent, elegant user experience no matter what the specific use case is.”

Installation takes just a few clicks, and once installed, a Poly Zoom Rooms device can detect an employee’s voice to quickly start the meeting experience. Poly’s certified Zoom Room Appliances also feature advanced speaker tracking, to block out background noise.

The one negative here for Canadian partners – and for that matter partners anywhere outside the U.S. – is that it will not be available in their geos at launch.

“We are rolling it out initially in the U.S., but we would expect it to have broader availability at some point,” Wilder said.