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Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, unveils Alexa for Business at AWS re:Invent 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

If you’ve even been in a meeting at work that gets derailed by clumsy conference calling software or complicated presentation hardware, Amazon Web Services thinks you might like Alexa for Business.

News of Amazon’s plan to bring its Echo devices into the boardroom leaked yesterday, but Amazon’s Werner Vogels, chief technology officer and vice president, officially launched the new product during a keynote address at AWS re:Invent 2017. Users will be able to dial into conference calls, check business calendars, and look up information in popular business tools like Salesforce with voice commands, he said.

“Once you’re used to a more natural way of interacting with your environment, you won’t go back,” Vogels said, walking attendees through the evolution of user interfaces. Older tech tools forced you to interact a certain way with computers because of the limitations of the hardware and software they used, but modern tools don’t face those same constraints and can take on a more natural form of communication, he said.

A dashboard for Alexa for business. (Amazon Photo)

Alexa for Business will work with Microsoft Exchange and Office 365, Google’s GSuite, and several other corporate productivity tools, such as Concur and Splunk. IT professionals can manage a fleet of Echos and build custom Alexa skills catered to their particular needs through AWS, Vogels said.

WeWork plans to put an Echo in all of the conference rooms across its network of co-working spaces, and the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas also plans to put the devices in hotel rooms, Vogels said. And if you’d like to blur the work-life balance a little more, you’ll be able to access many of the same Alexa skills you use at home through Alexa for Business, he said.

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