Should Your Office Welcome (or be Afraid of) Devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa?

Voice-activated, internet-connected personal assistant devices have been making waves, giving people the ability to control smart home technology, play music, shop, or access information by issuing a simple request. While people have largely embraced the concept in their home, businesses aren’t necessarily as open when it comes to having them in the workplace.

While the personal assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home do add a level of convenience, there are certain risks associated with the devices. Before you bring one into your workplace, here’s what you need to know.

Security Concerns

The largest case against voice-activated person assistant devices revolves around security concerns. To function, these devices remain in an always-on, always-listening state, waiting to be prompted to perform an action.

While many people assumed that sounds captured by the device weren’t stored unless an official command was issued, that isn’t always the case. In fact, other collected information is being gathered and stored on a server, even if only for a short time (source).

From a business perspective, this means that proprietary details may be saved on a storage device outside of the company, a server that is entirely out of there control. And, if someone were to access the recordings, they could discover information that wasn’t intended to be shared.

Even if the information is provided to the device intentionally, through the use of a command phrase, it is stored until the account holder deletes the file. This means a substantial search history and list of command queries could be accessed if someone else accesses the data.

Further, the devices could be targeted by malware and, if the personal assistant is connected to an internal network to provide internet connectivity, it could potentially infect other company systems.

 

Related Content: How Will AI Transform the Workplace in 2018?

Standard Use

Effectively, anyone can trigger a voice-activated digital assistant device through the use of specific command terms. While this is convenient for large groups, as anyone could use the device if needed, it also means that anyone within earshot of the device could issue a command.

One example of such an issue involved children ordering items from Amazon, without their parent’s authorization, by simply speaking to Alexa. While the incidents aren’t specifically business-related, they do highlight the nature of the potential problems a company could face.

Convenience

The primary reason people consider devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home is convenience. The devices can control smart products, like lights, televisions, and more, as well as perform actions, like place a phone call based on a simple instruction.

From a business perspective, this could present an opportunity to streamline certain processes and operations. However, you must determine whether the potential risks justify the gains.

Ultimately, the decision to allow voice-activated personal assistant devices into the workplace falls squarely in the hands of management, though IT professionals should likely be consulted as well. If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at Workspend can help. Contact us to speak with a member of our knowledgeable staff today.

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