Friday, 6 August 2010

Meet The Ultimate Executive Assistant - The Sat-Nav PA

Ever feel lost without your PA? Ever wish he or she could be running your life wherever you are?

A Midlands businesswoman is pioneering a unique, new executive tool that may provide a solution -  a sophisticated, Sat-Nav PA built into her car‘s dashboard.

Like many top executives, Diane Williams, Operations Director of  the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, leads a hectic and meeting-filled week. New appointments are constantly being added - or removed - from her diary by her PA, often while Dianne is tied up in other meetings. As a result she is constantly relying on her office-based assistant to phone, text or email her with details of where she needs to be next - and when.

In an attempt to simplify her life, Dianne agreed to trial a new device by innovative UK telematics and fleet management company iBox technology.

iBox specialise in providing fleet managers with live data on their vans, trucks and lorries. Their boxes deliver a mass of live information - from a vehicle’s location and speed, to its fuel consumption, load weight and even its driver’s braking habits. They also allow a two-way communication between the vehicle and the office.

iBox adapted a special version of their Trac-Mate device for Williams, integrating it into her car’s Sat Nav. The device allowed her  PA to track her exact whereabouts - as well as her mileage, start and stop times and speed - as she got on with her week’s work. It even provided a ‘snail trail’ of where she had been that week.

Crucially, however, it also allowed two way communication and task scheduling between her PA’s computer and the in-car device so that whenever Dianne climbed into the driver’s seat and switched on the ignition, she knew where her next meeting was and what time she needed to be there.

Dianne was delighted with the impact the device had on her working life. “I’m in and out of the office all the time, going to lots of meetings, not usually that far from each other. I will often have my telephone off so if the next meeting is cancelled or there is a change of destination I may not pick that information up,” she explained.

“Even if you have your Blackberry it takes time to get the details of a change of location. You then have to go to a map website and get directions. It can slow you down.”

The iBox device transformed her working life.

“It was like having my PA in the car. She was able to manage my diary remotely. It left me free to focus on the things that are important, not be distracted by the worry of where I had to be and how I was going to get there,” she said. “I would switch on my ignition and the device would tell me where I was going next and tell me how to get there. It was a very efficient way of managing my time.”

Dianne believes devices like this have a number of benefits. “Nobody is carrying any fat in their staffing at the moment. If you put too much pressure on too few people you are going to have problems. You have to help them manage their time and provide them with access to information quickly. This allows you to achieve that,” she said.

“Secondly, there is a safety and security issue for women. As a woman going out all the time, this allows people to know where I am. I felt safer when I had this in my car. It also has real benefits from a corporate responsibility point of view. As a company, you are more able to protect your staff,” she said. “I’d thoroughly recommend this kind of technology for all sorts of businesses.”

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