Developers building voice-enabled applications for Amazon Echo and other Alexa-powered devices will now have a new way to validate their abilities, with Amazon’s launch of a new AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certification. This is the first time Amazon has offered a certification program for Alexa developers, the company says.
Certification programs are standard in the technology industry — and AWS already offers a training program and certifications of its own that allow organizations to identify professionals with cloud expertise and an understanding of AWS.
The new Alexa certification will be a specialty within the AWS program, and will validate those with an understanding of all aspects of Alexa voice app development.
This includes the more practical matters — like how to develop, test, validate and troubleshoot skills, the use of the Alexa Developer Console, how to manage skill operations and life cycles, and more. But it will also get into more high-level concepts, like the “value of voice” and how a voice user experience should flow — something that many Alexa developers today still seem to struggle with.
To get started, developers can review a new exam guide, which helps them learn about Alexa skill building through tutorials, technical documentation and more. Amazon is also making self-paced training courses available online.
When ready, developers aiming to get certified can create an AWS Training account and schedule their exam.
The goal, says Amazon, is to open up “more opportunities to build engaging voice experiences” that can reach customers across the more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices on the market today.
In other words, Amazon wants those Alexa developers dabbling with skill building to learn not only the basics, but also the industry best practices — then use this knowledge to create more skills that will actually resonate with customers.
The certification program arrives at a time when smart speakers have hit critical mass in the U.S., but the ecosystem of third-party skills has not had its “app store moment” with a breakout hit, as Bloomberg recently noted.
Arguably, music, timers and smart home controls are the breakout hits for smart speakers, but these are native functions. It’s unclear how many of Alexa’s 80K+ third-party skills have a long-term future if consumer adoption continues to struggle.
In the meantime, however, businesses are still keen on the platform, given the sizable installed base for Alexa. Every day, some organization is announcing the launch of its skill. (Today, for example, it’s the Red Cross.)
“The demand from organizations for skilled professionals who can build skills for emerging voice-enabled workloads is increasing,” says Kevin Kelly, director, AWS Certification and Education Programs, in a statement. “This new certification validates those skills with the only credential in the industry focused on Alexa skill building,” he added.