A long way we have come from only the top executives at the largest companies holding access to personal assistants. Much envied were these folks for having the equivalent of an extra set of hands to help manage their professional and personal lives.
Free tools like Google Calendar and Todoist have grown in popularity, digitizing the analog organization systems we had in place. As email became a topic of dissatisfaction, savvy professionals adopted the use of advanced email management tools to administer their cluttered inboxes. Beyond that, short of hiring a virtual assistant through Zirtual or outsourcing tasks and errands, professionals have had few options for help managing their increasingly complex business days. But with the sophistication of mobile applications and smarter utilization of data, this has all changed.
Apps like Tempo and Thread essentially fulfill many duties of a personal assistant. Tempo, the calendar app from SRI International, is powered by much of the artificial intelligence technology that was incorporated into Apple iOS’s Siri. Tempo powers the “smart calendar” by parsing through your contacts, emails and documents, then surfacing them in time for your calendar appointments – merely using the information in the calendar invite! (I liken this to an admin printing out all your relevant documents and handing them to you as you step into your meeting, quickly whispering any important details in your ear about the people in the room.) Additional features of the app include driving directions, flight tracking, and Foursquare and Yelp integration, which are again provided to suit the needs of the modern professional, and Tempo’s learning mechanism ensures that your experience with the app improves over time.
How many times have you pulled up an email in the middle of a call, perhaps with a client? Even outside of the office, when I receive a call from an old friend, I jump on my tablet to quickly scroll through her Facebook as we chat, reminding myself of her latest happenings before I ask a silly question. Thread, an Android app that rethinks caller ID, serves up the caller’s latest Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as you and the caller’s latest email and text exchanges, when you receive a call. The richer caller ID experience provides more context for the call.
While neither of these tools accomplishes anything beyond our individual capabilities, they do inject a welcome layer of efficiency into our daily routines. One brand currently doing this well is CARFAX. With their new myCARFAX app, they give consumers piece of mind by maintaining the health of their cars and, in the end, increasing their cars’ retail value. This strengthens the relationship between the CARFAX brand and their customer, and increases the value of their core product. As marketers, we need to start thinking about how we can apply this kind of utility to customer experience.