From Hacks to Products: The Art and Science of Delivering Alexa Skills


Happy New Year and welcome to the first 2017 Ubiquitous Voice Society DC Meetup!

The theme and subtext of this session is the emerging fact that the Voice interface has now finally graduated from the realm of gadgetry and gimmickry to one where interacting with the world that surrounds us by speaking naturally will very soon be taken for granted.

The day when Alexa first hit the market on November 6, 2014, was a watershed moment: the promise of a truly eyes-free/hands-free interface was finally met.

Since then, we have seen customers eagerly adopt not only the Amazon Echo -- the very first product that incarnated the Alexa service -- but other Alexa enabled products, some launched by Amazon (The Dot, The Tap), others by partners (for instance, Lenovo (, Ford Motors (, LG Hub (, and Lynx Robot ( And we have also seen the emergence of followers such as the Google Assistant and other products that are sure to hit the market soon.

We will start the session with an overview from Ahmed Bouzid (, CEO of Witlingo (, who will go over the start-to-end process of productizing a conversational experience such as an Alexa skill. Following that, Michelle Levine from Amazon's Alexa Partners team will give an overview of what it means to partner up with the Alexa team to help build up the Alexa ecosystem. After that, we will take a break and then hold a panel discussion, moderated by Ahmed Bouzid, with entrepreneurs who have launched businesses focused on Alexa. A brainstorm with the audience will follow, wth the challenge question being: What will our world look and sound like in 2020?


6:30 pm - 7:00 pm - Beer, snacks, chit-chatting and networking

7:00 pm - 7:10 pm - Introductions, Sponsors, Announcements

7:10 pm - 7:30 pm - A Skill is a Product: An Introduction to Building for Value and Usability -- Ahmed Bouzid (, Co-Founder & CEO, Witlingo (

7:30 pm - 7:45 pm - Partnering with the Amazon Alexa Team: An Overview -- Michelle Levine (, Senior Business Development Manager, Alexa at Amazon

7:45 pm - 8:00 pm - Break

8:00 pm - 8:30 pm - Panel: Voice in the Home and Beyond: Where are the Obvious Next Steps for Voice

• Moderator: Ahmed Bouzid, Witlingo (

• Participants:

• Christian Brink ( Co-Founder, (

• Lisa Falkson ( Principal Voice UX Architect, NIO (

• Paul Burden ( Founder, OurVoice (

8:30: 8:50 pm - Roundtable with the audience: What will our world look and sound like in 2020? Think about how the world changed between 1990 and 2000 and then between 2000 and 2010. What was the trajectory that we lived through and how can we learn from our failures to see the future so that we can better anticipate what is to come? Come prepared to brainstorm and to have fun.

8:50 pm - 9:00 pm - Closing remarks and next steps