Echo Show, Amazon UC For Your Home
Amazon could soon be shaking up the Unified Communications (UC) landscape with a device that began in the consumer realm. With a launch date set for November, the Amazon Echo Show offers Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, a touchscreen display, and a 5-megapixel camera for video calls. These are just a few of the UC features the Echo Show offers in addition to accessing emails and calendar via voice commands.
How It Works
Gartner analyst Werner Goertz took a test-drive with the gadget, participating in an Echo Show video conference call between Amazon offices in San Francisco and Seattle that showed zero latency and HD video support. According to Goertz, the demo illustrated the potential for businesses to use Echo Shows as endpoints connecting corporate productivity applications. Amazon already offers APIs and the Alexa Skills program that allow developers to create applications for Echo Show; opening these to business applications creators isn’t too far of a move ahead.
"Established companies in Unified Communications should be nervous,” Goertz said in an interview with IT World. He said that he could see the Echo Show being initially aimed at use cases in telemedicine and home healthcare along with hospitality.
Is Amazon UC Ready For Enterprise?
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, told the outlet that despite the promising potential for Echo Show to enable UC, Amazon hasn’t yet shown off significant enterprise chops, so there remain open questions.
"Enterprises need systems that tie back to their internal infrastructure of apps running their businesses, whether they are in the cloud or on-premise," he said. "At this point, I don't know if Amazon has provided enough in the way of APIs and software development kits to make it worthwhile for business users."
And indeed, there are areas that will need development outside of the consumer applications that the Echo Show initially targets. For instance, in the enterprise market, voice authentication is increasingly important. Some banks for instance use voice recognition for sign-in and account authentication.
"Speaker authentication is needed on Echo Show, and that's on the roadmap of Amazon between now and its AWS re-Invent 2017 conference in November," Goertz said. "Banks use voice authentication increasingly now," he said.
Learning A New Market
There are other caveats as well. As with most Internet of Things (IoT) devices, privacy and security will be initial IT concerns.
"One thing that Amazon has underestimated is the backlash from IT pros and CIOs about privacy and confidentiality of data," Goertz said, "Amazon doesn't have its act together yet on a privacy statement that's more elaborate and proactive."
Despite the lingering questions, it’s clear that devices like the Echo Show will continue to come to market, offering UC-like functionality for consumers in the connected home. The likelihood of these connected things making their way to the business realm is one we should all be considering as this rapidly changing market continues to progress.