Amazon announced on July 1 that Alexa is getting more “skilled” with a “Skill Connections” update. The update will be effective in all locations where Alexa is available. Skill connections enable a skill to use another skill to perform a task, such as printing out a document, hailing a ride or making dinner reservations.

An easier way of describing this new feature is that Alexa’s “skills” – any “trick” that it can do, whether it’s turning on the lights in your home, ordering a pizza or booking an Uber — can now work together to complete a task users request from Alexa.

More skills for everyday tasks

Thanks to the Skill Connection update, Alexa can connect to a skill from other voice-powered apps from publishers like Meredith. Meredith was one of the first skill publishers to exploit this update, by adding Hewlett-Packard’s printing skill to Meredith’s Allrecipes skill. With this merging of skills, customers can print out recipes they find via Alexa.

Apart from becoming “more skilled” in the kitchen, Alexa continues to become more versatile in performing other tasks like helping customers keep appointments by hailing an Uber ride, then making appropriate meal reservations with OpenTable. As of now, Alexa’s menu of interwoven skills is limited to printing, ride and restaurant bookings, but that’s expected to expand as Amazon deepens its selection of skills providers.

Amazon’s recent Alexa update could mean renewed interest for the Amazon Echo from both
marketers and consumers

Evolving as Predicted

Alexa’s recent update is a sign of the times. This update to Alexa proves that some industry experts’ predictions regarding AI chatbots are becoming reality. In a previous article, research firm Juniper predicted that AI chatbots will see more extensive use by retailers to engage customers on their preferred social media. AI chatbots are expected to offer an even higher degree of personalization when engaging customers with Natural Language Processing, and it’s happening now. Currently, Facebook chatbot Octane AI has become indispensable at converting “abandoned shopping carts” to actual sales for online shopping sites.

Marketing and AI’s lecture series on AI and its impact on marketing also talks about how chatbots like Alexa are evolving along these paths. You can view Marketing & AI’s videos on the expected evolution of AI chatbots here and here.

Implications for Marketers

Alexa and its “host” Amazon Echo will appear more enticing to those shopping for a voice-driven AI assistant, as they can look forward to a more advanced Alexa. Current Amazon Echo owners will certainly appreciate the upgrade in Alexa’s capabilities. Pair that with a more positive customer experience without spending a dime, the update is sure to boost interest and sales for Amazon Echo, and could prod rivals like Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana to step up their game. Now that Alexa is becoming “more skilled”, digital and AI marketers shouldn’t be complacent. Now is a good time to find ways to exploit the new opportunities from Alexa’s update.

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What do you think of Alexa’s latest update? Yay or nay? What skills would you like to be linked to make Alexa work better? Let us know in the comments!

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