- Consulting firm Accenture expanded its collaboration with Amazon by starting a program to help brands create software that works with Alexa, the e-commerce giant's voice-enabled assistant, according to a press release. The companies already work together on the Accenture AWS alliance that helps organizations get on board with Amazon's cloud-computing platform, Amazon Web Services.
- The goal is to offer software tools that let companies create voice experiences for customers, including new features or integrations of Alexa directly into existing products. The first step in the expanded collaboration is the creation of a community of 200 developers, including about 50 Accenture employees trained in Alexa technologies.
- Accenture and Amazon will first focus on the distribution, energy and tourism industries. The companies plan to host dedicated training sessions for digital and communications agencies at Accenture's offices.
Accenture's expanded partnership with AWS is another sign of Amazon's push to expand the popularity of its Alexa digital assistant by urging more brands and companies to adopt the technology. As Amazon faces growing competition from Google, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft, the company needs to expand Alexa's functionality with new software that helps people perform a wider variety of everyday tasks.
Those Alexa apps, called "skills," can include everything from voice-powered games to integrations with smart home devices like appliances, thermostats, security systems and lighting. Because many companies don't have the in-house expertise or resources to create custom Alexa skills, Accenture has an opportunity to develop a business by providing the know-how and support to smaller companies.
Amazon already has targeted the tourism industry with last month's announcement of a partnership with Marriott International to provide voice-activated services to hotel guests, such as setting alarms, adjusting lights, ordering room service, playing music or calling the front desk. Red Roof also integrated Alexa voice tech in February to let people more easily ask questions about lodging amenities and making travel plans.
The Accenture news comes after Amazon began offering more incentives for software developers to create skills for Alexa. In May, the company added an in-skill purchasing (ISP) feature that opened Alexa to accepting payments for subscriptions and premium digital content for games, interactive stories and podcasts. The Ellen Show's Heads Up game, TuneIn's Live audio broadcasts and Sony's trivia game show "Jeopardy" already have in-skill purchasing for additional content, letting companies get in on an additional revenue source.
While voice assistants are available as smartphone apps, smart speakers that act as hubs for voice assistants have become the latest source of heated competition among tech giants. Amazon is the market leader in the smart speaker market with Echo devices that use Alexa, but Google has gained ground with its Google Home devices that use Google Assistant, per eMarketer. This may signal that Google and other voice tech companies will begin to ramp up their partnerships to drive adoption and gain a competitive edge in the months to come.