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Can you get a decent enterprise news briefing from Alexa? Yes - here's how

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed July 6, 2024
You can still get a pretty good daily enterprise briefing from your Alexa devices (and phones) - customized to your interests. Now, diginomica has its own general skill, and Flash Briefing skill as well. It does take a bit of effort to organize your news and skills, but if you spend time on Alexa, it's worth it.


Update: diginomica is now available as an (ad-free) Alexa Flash Briefing Skill - and an (ad-free) general Alexa skill. If you add it:

You'll get a three minute reading of the highlights from our five most recent stories.

However, not everyone who uses Alexa has a Flash Briefing setup and ready. 

You can also get access to diginomica as a general Alexa skill (more on that below as well). If Alexa asks you for your preferred news sources, you can also mention diginomica.  

But for now, there is another question on the table: 

  • Can an enterprise professional get relevant news from an Alexa Flash Briefing? And: 
  • Is it worth the time to set up? 

The answer to these questions used to be an unqualified yes. However, I've found that Flash Briefings take more time to set up than they used to (you can only do it on the phone app now). You may prefer to just let Alexa know your preferred news sources, and see how Alexa does managing your news for you

If you add diginomica, you can then ask "Alexa, open enterprise news" and get our latest updates that way. Flash Briefings have lost some of their best tech updates over the years, but other tech podcasts are still available as Flash Briefing skills. Besides diginomica, other enterprise related news sources I recommend: 

  • Wall Street Journal (Wall Street Journal invests heavily in updated audio content and has several frequently updated shows, including the Wall Street Tech News Briefing). 
  • The Business of Tech mini-podcast, which has a bit of an MSP-driven focus, as the host/curator Dave Sobel, hails from the MSP (Managed Service Provider) market. Sobel gives plenty of timely updates and manages to keep a strong point of view. ("Why does this news matter?") Note: right now, these updates seem to have issues on Alexa; I've contacted Sobel. 
  • Wired - Wired still has a few frequently updated podcasts, including Wired Business, Wired Science, and Wired Security (for Wired and Wall Street Journal, do a search on "Wired" or "Wall Street Journal" within the Flash Briefing skills to see the options you can put into the Flash Briefing). I'll issue more updates on the best content within Flash Briefings now, on July 21, 2024 - I'm conducting a series of new tests). 

Yes, many of these "Flash" skills can also be consumed as separate, shorter podcasts. But the Flash Briefing remains a handy way to stitch shorter podcast favorites together. This gets back to my personalization stomping grounds. I use the word "personalization" with an abundance of caution - mostly because, contrary to marketers' fantasies, algorithms have ruined the concept more than they've helped. 

My experience is that platforms that allow "super-user" configuration options are still the ones delivering superior personalization - but your chances to configure your own content or preferences on big tech sites are getting more remote by the day. No one can personalize our content like we ourselves can.

Big tech wants its algorithms to do that for us. You're starting to see that with Alexa Flash Briefings now, where it's harder to customize than it used to be - but still worth the effort if you like to putter in the morning, as I do, with audio content going while coffee brews. 

Are Alexa Flash Briefings relevant to enterprise professionals?

Tracking the most important consumer tech and business stories frames my day. To fill in the enterprise-specific content, I have email alerts and my trusty, text-based newsreader. So can enterprise pros get a good briefing out of Alexa? It depends:

  • Tech news? Yes, you can get some quality consumer tech news and analysis
  • Business news? Yes, there are some good financial market overviews

You can get a pretty good market context. Then you'll have to go outside your Flash Briefing to get more enterprise angles (example: Seeking Alpha stock alerts, daily email subscriptions). It's not always easy to set up the Flash Briefing. It's not obvious which audio content in Alexa's skills section is updated regularly. Many Flash "skills" get abandoned - but the user reviews can help you there. But after your fussy toil, you'll have a handy run through you can activate each day. I'll show you my setup as well. 

Setting up your Flash Briefing - tips from my setup

Flash Briefings are like a smaller, overlapping universe inside Alexa's skills. You enable the Flash Briefing "skills" you want; they work within the Flash Briefing once you activate them. Order them however you like. Some Flash Briefing skills can be consumed outside of the Flash Briefing format as well - diginomica now has that option too.

You can skip over sections you don't want to hear on a given day (I use the "skip" command for that). You can also "pause" and "resume," though the ability to do that can be problematic. Example: if you take a break and ask Alexa to play music, and then pause/stop the music, Alexa might not remember where you left off the Flash Briefing. Therefore, I recommend completing your most important Flash Briefing updates in one sitting. You can always give it another go later, usually Alexa will skip over the ones you've heard that day. 

Let's go through my setup, in three annotated screen shots. As you review this, keep two things in mind:

  • The order of your Flash Briefing matters. As I said, Alexa isn't good about pausing or continuing Flash Briefings.
  • I front load the Flash Briefing with the most essential content. Partly because of that continuation problem; partly because of time constraints.

My goal: get a solid biz/tech daily overview in about 15 minutes. My entire Flash Briefing lasts considerably longer. On days when I have more audio time, I'll delve further. I also like having a longer briefing because I can "skip" redundant or boring interviews, and a better piece of content may be next. I recommend adding a few news services at a time, and make sure you are happy with the content, amount of ads, etc (warning: there are more ads in this type of content than there used to be, so you'll want to check your ad tolerance for each briefing you add. Our diginomica channel has no ads.). 

This is my older setup, when I could get screen shots of the setup on my computer. I now lead off with diginomica's Flash Briefing update. 

Then it's on to the rest of the first group: 

Alexa flash briefing 1
(via screen shot)

This batch typically runs about 10 minutes (not all of these skills update frequently; check the reviews). Local sport/weather, then right into the tech news:

  • Tech news updates invariably have overlapping content. I don't mind a bit of that, but you could easily pare down. I would add one at at time.
  • The Wall Street Journal Tech News Briefing is an effective format, with several quick updates and then a (fairly) short feature interview.
  • The Business of Tech is a fave. Our aforementioned host always asks "Why does this story matter?" Which is the question that rarely gets answered in most news briefs.

Now we move into the second bunch:

Alexa flash briefing 2
(via screen shot)

A few notes:

  • Wired Business is a human reading a Wired business article. It's usually about seven minutes and doesn't always hit home, but most are pretty solid.
  • The Bloomberg Featured Interview is missing in action. I keep it enabled hoping it will return.
  • I avoid longer podcasts in my Flash Briefing; Planet Money is an exception. It's more of a weekly thing, and I don't mind stumbling on it here from time to time.

Now for the final batch:

Alexa Flash Briefing 3
(via screen shot)


This final section is a dog's breakfast. Why did I bury the short market updates? Because I get plenty of market alerts from Yahoo Finance and Seeking Alpha as it is. 

My take

I turn to the Flash Briefing in the mornings when I haven't fired up my computers yet, or when I come home with an arm full of groceries.

Another cool way to use a Flash Briefing is to emded it in an Alexa routine. I have a morning routine I call "cockpit" that gives me my calendar for the day, traffic updates, a few odds and ends, and then into the Flash Briefing. One downside to Flash Briefings: you have only one per household. 

Most Flash Briefings have some form of commercials or sponsorship plugs. I don't mind them as long as they are concise and not excessive. Most popular podcasts have something like this too, so you're not getting away from that easily. We are in an era where the imperative to monetize affects our listening experience. Not much we can do about that, though diginomica remains ad free, and updated daily. 

But there are tradeoffs: our updates are read by whichever default voice you have for Alexa readings. Someday, we may have a real person read it, but that is not this day. I recommend utilizing some of the other automated skills. Those that are read by humans have a tendency to fade away without a business model, unless they are also standalone podcasts from outlets with deep pockets.

On, and thanks to our development partner Brainsum for another fruitful collaboration. Adding diginomica apps and a variety of accessibility features has been a diginomica reader focus the past couple of years. 

Note: as of this writing, I'm re-assessing some of my Flash Briefing news choices (some older skills are not updating as frequently). I'll update this piece by July 22 with what I've learned, and any new finds.

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