Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why personal assistant but not PDA works

PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant) were introduced as a way to offer a personal assistant to everybody. Managers had this privilege for years. Only they used real persons as assistants and not a fancy gadget.

Although promising at the beginning, PDAs failed in both aspects:

- as a gadget they were replaced by smart phones (phone + PDA capabilities in one device) and PMP (Portable Media Player – see iPod) devices. Big companies that used to produced PDAs starts now to discontinue them and refocus on other areas.

- as a personal assistant they never did the job right. Far from being personal assistants, PDAs were no more than plain pen and paper notebooks. People like personal assistants because they like to give commands, and they like to pass responsibility and then forget. You cannot do this with a PDA?! A PDA will start buzzing on an unfinished job, like they are your boss and not viceversa!

Let me tell you a story: A few weeks ago I had a pile of unpaid bills and medical claims on my desk.. I though that dealing with them it’s a very easy task: you have to open them, pay them and eventually do a few phone calls. I would’ve finished them in a couple of hours probably. Instead of doing them I delayed them till today despite my PDA that constantly reminded me of this task. A simple press on snooze button solved the problem for the day. If I’d have a real personal assistant I wouldn’t have this problem. A simple “do that” command would’ve probably solved everything.

As a matter of fact people like to have assistants. All famous success stories from IT (see Microsoft and Apple birth) are built on manager-assistant model. Small succeeding companies are usually built by 2 persons. At the first sight they seem to have same responsibilities but at a closer look they start to differentiate in master and assistant – one person that sees the big picture but doesn’t go into details and one person who deals only with details. They complement each other.

Let’s now take your (you – the reader) example. You certainly have in every minute a big idea in your head that would probably make you rich and famous. It’s also a big probability that you have also a PDA! So you have both parts of equation: manager=you, assistant=PDA and still the ideas are only in your head. Why that? Don’t try to answer this. Instead go find a real personal assistant that would happily work with you/for you to implement your dream ideas.

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