Retail

Amazon’s Next Target: Call Centers

After disrupting the retail market, Amazon is going after another industry, this time setting its sights on call centers.

According to a report citing information from the firm The Information, Amazon’s Web Services unit is working a suite of cloud-based tools that it plans to sell to companies to help them manage their call centers. The Information cited a person briefed on the plans as saying the tools will integrate Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, which will answer questions over the phone as well as via text messages. The suite of tools also integrates Lex, a chatbot, and Polly, a text-to-speech program.

Put together, the report noted it looks like Amazon Web Services is creating a suite of tools that will enable businesses to customize their customer service programs via bots and voice control. The bots and digital assistant can learn and adapt based on the industry for which it handles calls. The Information pegged the release date for the suite of tools may come in the middle of March, putting the current call center software players on notice. Some of the players in call center software include Spoken, Cisco Systems, Avaya and Genesys.

This isn’t the only new development for Amazon Web Services so far this year. In January, a report surfaced that it had acquired Harvest.ai. According to another report, which cited Fred Wang, a general partner with Trinity Ventures, an investor in Amazon Web Services quietly acquired the company to increase the security of its cloud offering for its customers. Wang said Amazon Web Services acquired Harvest.ai early last year and has invested a little under $2 million in the startup. The deal had not been revealed prior to either report.

While Wang would not disclose how much Amazon Web Services paid for the startup, he said it “was a good win for the investors and for the management team.” An unnamed “tipster” told GeekWire the price tag was $19 million. Amazon declined to confirm it even made the purchase, noted the report.

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