Amazon is bringing Alexa to the workplace

Alexa is coming to the workplace, maybe even yours.

Amazon announced on Thursday that its digital voice assistant will soon book appointments and take office calls as part of a new service called Alexa for Business.

The push aims to extend the online giant’s wide lead over rivals like Apple's Siri, Google's Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana as competition heats up in a market that analysts say could transform the way people interact with technology. 

RELATED: Check out some interesting facts about Amazon:

8 PHOTOS
7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
See Gallery
7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
7.5 percent of Seattle's working-age population are Amazon employees

Amazon has more than 300,000 employees worldwide, and 40,000 in Seattle alone.

As a portion of the city's working-age population — roughly 528,000 — that comes out to 7.5% of the city working at Amazon.

For perspective, if the same portion of New York City's adults worked for one company, that company would have about 488,000 locals on staff.

Amazon accounts for 43% of all online sales

Amazon used to be a way to buy books online; today, it's the default buying site for just about everything, especially for people who have Amazon Prime.

An analysis by Slice Intelligence released in February found that 43% of all US online retail sales were done through Amazon in 2016.

That's up from 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2012.

1 out of every 4 US adults has Amazon Prime.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, the company now counts approximately 63 million people among its subscriber base, or about 25% of the total US adult population.

That number may underestimate the true coverage, however, since it doesn't account for multiple adults in one household all sharing the same Prime account.

Amazon ships 1.6 million packages a day

Amazon fulfillment is a beast of its own.

A report from 2013 (the latest year for which data are available) found Amazon shipped 608 million packages that year, or 1.6 million packages a day.

As of 2015, Amazon estimated its fulfillment centers were within 20 miles of 31% of the US population, and within 20 miles of 50-65% of its core, same-day-accessible market.

That's enough cardboard to span all of West Virginia

A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals all those packages (not including padded envelopes) yield roughly 26,400 square miles of cardboard.

The total land area of West Virginia, meanwhile, is just north of 24,000 square miles.

Given the speed of Amazon's shipments, the company could blanket the whole US in cardboard in about five months.

45,000 robots roam the floors of Amazon's warehouses

To help those shipments leave the warehouses on time, Amazon relies on a growing fleet of autonomous robots that fetch packages from their shelves and bring them to human employees.

The 45,000 robots live across 20 fulfillment centers in the US. In 2016, the company increased the fleet 50% from its prior head count of 30,000.

Amazon is more valuable than all major brick-and-mortar retailers combined

The sum total of those investments in infrastructure and supply chain management have made Amazon by far the most valuable retailer in the United States.

Amazon's $356 billion valuation is so big, it's larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

With the recent acquisition of Whole Foods, there are no signs the retailer has any plans of slowing down.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

 

In addition to all the same functions that Alexa performs through home Echo devices—temperature adjustments, light settings, kitchen management—Amazon is working with a variety of enterprise companies like video conferencing firm Polycom and travel and expensing system Concur to design work-specific tasks. Companies can also build their own through Amazon’s developer platform.

Some of the businesses signed on to implement the new service at launch include Capital One, Brooks Brothers, and WeWork. Each company that signs up for the plan will get a starter pack consisting of three Echo devices meant for conference rooms, two miniature Echo Dots to control equipment around the office, and two of Amazon’s new video-enabled Echo-show devices.

Amazon’s Echo is the overall leader in the voice-enabled speaker market, but Microsoft has already made in-roads into the office version with Cortana integration into some of its various enterprise tools. Still, Amazon could use its high-profile partnerships and the ubiquity of its Amazon Web Services cloud to build an infrastructure of workplace services that will solidify its place in the business enterprise space.

WATCH: Amazon Key offers package delivery, inside your home

Read Full Story

Can't get enough business news?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from retailer news to the latest IPOs delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.