Amazon wants you to develop skills!
No, not the kinds of skills you might be thinking about (management, accounting, technical aptitude, etc.).
Instead, Amazon wants you to develop Alexa skills. In this case, “skills” is just another word for “apps.”
Basically, Amazon wants more users contributing software to its Alexa voice ecosystem. In an effort to make Alexa development as easy as possible, the e-commerce giant has launched an online hub to help you get started.
Lots of Agencies to Choose From
As of now, the hub lists over 20 agencies that you can choose from to outsource all your Alexa development needs. Currently, that list includes the following companies:
- UI Centric
- XAPPmedia, Inc.
All of those companies, according to Amazon have “expertise in designing, developing and optimizing Alexa skills.”
Of course, that kind of development effort costs money and eats into the bottom line. So, if you’re running a business that has some in-house technical skill, you can save money by doing the development yourself.
Alexa also links to the Alexa software development kit (SDK), called the Alexa Skills Kit, on its hub page. The SDK is a collection of APIs, documentation, tools, and sample code that enables developers to create their own skill.
Companies that opt for in-house development have the opportunity to save a fortune over competitors who hire companies to handle Alexa development for them.
Also, the Alexa Skills Kit recently added the Smart Home Skill API that gives developers the ability to manage cloud-controlled thermostats and lighting. If you’re looking to get started with Internet of Things (IoT) development, that’s a great place to get started.
The Alexa hub also links to three frameworks that developers can use to streamline their development processes.
First, there’s PullString, a development environment that enables developers to create human-fidelity computer conversations. Not too long ago, that concept seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Next is Conversible, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that developers can use to create automated customer engagement conversation flows.
Finally, there’s Bespoken Tools. That’s a suite of solutions that includes a command line interface so that developers can run Alexa code from their own machines. It’s another tool that helps organizations practice rapid application development.
Discovery: A Problem
Amazon is finding that it’s dealing with a common problem that’s shared by the iOS and Android platforms: discovery.
Once a skill has been developed, certified, and deployed, how do users of Amazon Echo devices go about finding it? Unfortunately, they often don’t find it.
Also, many skills lack any review.
As of now, there are more than 7,000 skills deployed. Only a third of those, though, have a review.
In other words, Amazon users have trouble getting information from fellow users about whether or not a particular skill is exactly what they need.
It’s easy to write these problems off as growing pains, though. In the long run, it’s likely that Amazon will make it easy for both users and developers alike to experience the full potential of the Alexa ecosystem.
Amazon Wants You
Amazon wants you, as an entrepreneur or marketer, to create Alexa skills.
Why? Because you’ll help generate demand for the company’s Alexa-supported devices when you do that. The natural fallout from that, of course, is that Amazon will sell more of those products.
But it might not be hard to convince you to develop skills. That’s because consumer demand for voice-driven technology is high. It doesn’t show any sign of letting up.
Think about it like this: the possibility exists that, one day, Alexa devices will be almost as ubiquitous as smartphones are today.
Will that happen? There’s no saying for certain, but if it does happen, you’ll be glad that your brand was an early adopter.