Why the Amazon Echo Means Business
One way Amazon could succeed with getting companies to order stuff through Amazon Business is the good old-fashioned backdoor. PCs and smartphones were embraced by companies only after employees were bringing their own to work in large numbers and using them for mission-critical work. Amazon surely understands that making Echo devices standard on the desks of managers, executives and others is the best way to get the company to officially embrace the platform and mandate their placement on every desk. I believe virtual assistant appliances will become ubiquitous in homes, cars and offices. If that's true, Amazon has a real shot at dominating this space. The biggest threat to Amazon's primacy, of course, will be the likely entry of Apple, Google and Microsoft into this space. All of them have virtual assistant apps they've been developing for years. What they lack are the hardware appliances that would make them as usable and appealing as the Amazon Echo.Apple's advantage is its ultra-high penetration of smartphones in the enterprise. Google's advantage is a willingness to be open to third-party software integrations, as well as potentially to third-party hardware companies. Microsoft's advantage is leadership in enterprise software platforms. And Amazon's advantage is a head start. Still, I think the first step into the business market for Amazon and for this category is likely to be the Amazon Fox, which some business users will bring to work and use for business. And the best way to buy one will be to ask Alexa to do it for you. One way or the other, the Amazon Echo, in particular, and the virtual assistant appliance, in general, is coming to work.
At this point, it's impossible to predict which of these four companies—Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon—companies will favor.