Amazon is looking to staff up a “New AWS/Alexa Service” focused on enterprise collaboration, communication and document sharing, according to postings on its jobs website.
“This effort is in direct response to feedback from customers and seeks to address their daily pain points in collaborating, communicating, and sharing documents and information,” the company says in one of the posts. “Leveraging AWS’s scale, reliability, flexibility, and ease of use, we will offer customers an easy-to-manage and cost-effective solution that solves many of these pain points.”
The new project is the latest example of Amazon’s deeper push into enterprise collaboration tools, a move that was hinted at as part of a lawsuit filed earlier this year to block a former AWS VP from leaving the company to go to work management company Smartsheet.
Amazon is casting a wide net in looking for the right talent to build this new service, as the company has posted jobs for “senior solutions architects” in Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta. Amazon is also looking to fill several sales positions for the new service.
Amazon offered scant details about the new product in the job postings and doesn’t mention how its virtual assistant Alexa fits into the project. Amazon is looking to fill key roles and define the project, indicating it is just getting started. Amazon said in job listings it is pursuing the project due to customer frustration with other collaboration and file-sharing tools.
The new service, according to the job postings, aims to simplify collaboration between teams and help businesses manage a variety of complicated tasks.
“We are working hard to define and build an early version of this service and launch it for customers as quickly as possible to get feedback and iterate. This new service will offer a compelling alternative for our customers when faced with multiple components, channels, vendors, long-term commitments, complex pricing models, and scaling based on the specific needs of their businesses. When available, this exciting new service will be part of the growing family of SaaS offerings from AWS such as Amazon Chime, Amazon WorkSpaces, and Amazon WorkDocs.”
Amazon may have tipped its hand when it filed a lawsuit in June, alleging that former Vice President of the AWS Enterprise Applications & EC2 Windows team Gene Farrell violated a non-compete agreement when he accepted a job as vice president of product at Smartsheet. Amazon claimed Smartsheet would become a competitor, based on future AWS products and features, the details of which were redacted from public court documents.
“Farrell was involved in and privy to AWS’s strategy, roadmap, pipeline, customers, strengths and weakness for cloud-based productivity products, including the development of new products not yet publicly launched or announced,” Amazon wrote in its complaint.
That lawsuit was eventually settled, but the question remains, is this new service one of the products Amazon had in mind when it named Smartsheet as a competitor? Amazon did not respond to this question and several others about the product.
Several even more nebulous job postings for a senior technical program manager and software engineers working on an “AWS special project” may or may not be related to the new enterprise collaboration project. The postings point out that those positions will work with teams focused on Alexa/Echo, AWS service, Android/iOS apps and web UI.
“We are building a new AWS product focused on solving a large customer problem,” the postings note. “This is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and play a lead role in a brand new team and innovate in a new space. You will be part of the journey from product inception, iteration using customer feedback, and continuous customer delivery!”
These efforts show how Amazon Web Services has evolved over the years from a cloud storage business to a full-on provider of software as a service products. Amazon’s cloud division has been a moneymaker for the company, and it sits atop the growing cloud landscape. Amazon’s move “up the stack” to releasing its own products means that some that were once rock-solid partners with AWS could become competitors, as illustrated by the Smartsheet suit.
Amazon has been taking small stabs at the workplace productivity market in recent years, scooping up Biba to form the Amazon Chime discussion tool and improving the WorkDocs product.
And speaking of WorkDocs, AWS is gearing up for an expansion of the cloud-based file management program. A separate job posting for a principal product manager shows the company has ambitions to turn WorkDocs into a more comprehensive suite of collaborative tools.
“Going forward, we have big plans for transforming this service as a home for conversations, collaboration, and activity surrounding user/team/organization documents,” the job posting reads.