Words to go: AWS business productivity apps

AWS may be best known for IaaS, but the provider also offers SaaS apps to enhance business productivity. That said, they likely won't check off every box for enterprise users.

Productivity applications play a key role in how employees get work done across the business. Organizations can turn to a variety of tools, including AWS-native offerings, to improve their day-to-day tasks.

Currently, there are four AWS business productivity apps: Alexa for Business, Amazon Chime, Amazon WorkDocs and Amazon WorkMail. Organizations can use these tools to simplify business practices and increase efficiency. For example, an organization could use these applications to start a conference call, while attendees open a collaborative word processor document.

These AWS business productivity apps have to fight for market share against some other, more well-established tools from vendors such as Microsoft and Google. To stay competitive, AWS continues to expand on its feature set, with recent additions to Alexa for Business and Amazon Chime.

Here's your primer on the AWS business productivity apps currently available and how they could benefit your business.

Alexa for Business: An organization can use Alexa for Business to access Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, as a paid subscription service for business operations. Alexa for Business can manage calendars, dial into conference calls, keep track of to-do lists, set reminders, search for information or perform custom skills developed by third-party vendors. For example, an employee can request: "Alexa, remind me about this meeting at 11 a.m."

AWS collects information about devices in the organization and links them to Alexa for Business to properly respond to users and perform set actions. This information can include user accounts, locations, calendar data, video conferencing equipment and other infrastructure. Admins can monitor device usage and status through a central console.

Amazon Chime: Amazon Chime is AWS' unified communications service. An organization can use it for online meetings, and it offers chat and high-definition video and audio calls similar to Skype. Chime is believed to be built around Biba, a business conferencing and messaging app Amazon acquired in 2016.

Chime can call users directly when a meeting begins, instead of the recipient punching in a PIN to join. Users who are late to a call can notify other participants through the service. Additionally, Chime is available on desktop and mobile devices and comes in three tiers. The Pro tier features more scalability and support for video calls for up to 100 users. Chime's competition in this already established market includes Microsoft Skype for Business and Cisco WebEx.

Amazon WorkDocs: Enterprises can use this storage and online collaboration tool to create and upload documents. Users can then collaborate on the same document and send feedback or create updated versions. WorkDocs supports file types such as DPC, COX, XLS and XLSX.

Files can be automatically encrypted and uploaded to other devices. WorkDocs is available on desktop and mobile and has features, such as data loss prevention, that are similar to Microsoft OneDrive.

Amazon WorkMail: This cloud-based email and calendar service supports desktop and mobile platforms. With WorkMail, users can access their email, contacts and calendars through a web browser or the client application of their choice, including the iOS mail app or Microsoft Outlook. WorkMail supports client applications that use Internet Message Access Protocol and has a similar UI to competitors such as Office 365 and Gmail.

However, it does have some limitations. For example, AWS limits outgoing and incoming emails to 25 MB for WorkMail, while Office 365 is capped at 150 MB.

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