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Mobile: Your Personal Agent?

I love the idea of an agent: A person or object that acts on your behalf and for your wellbeing, doing things you may not be capable of doing on your own. An agent is like a personal extension of yourself. Without an agent, you are just one person with a particular set of skills. However, with one, you begin to possess skills that you didn't personally develop. Depending on the setting and industry, an agent allows one to automatically become a lawyer, a doctor, a stellar negotiator, a market expert, insurance broker, connector and much more. Through an agent we open opportunities and insights into new worlds, using these skills to benefit us, the individual.

We all have agents that serve our needs differently. Sometimes it's the tailor who hems and alters your clothes. Sometimes it is the person who manages your stocks and finances. A waitress can even be an agent between you and a gourmet meal. In sports, talented players find the best agents to get them big contracts and manage behind-the-scenes work so they can focus on playing. Leigh Steinberg said "the role of an agent is to bring value to the life of a player." Steinberg, a renowned player agent and Forbes contributor, has had clients like Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Howie Long and Oscar de la Hoya. He further explains, "An athlete is looking for someone with specific skills - legal, financial and public relations, for example - that can help them solve problems."

We may not all be star athletes, but we are all looking for tools and resources that can help us solve problems. Wouldn't it be great if we all had a personal agent who could act on our behalf and take care of the responsibilities for which we just don’t have the time or expertise? The right mobile solution, in many cases, can do just that. Here's how:

Only what I need to know It's important for me to know what is going on with my job. Emails, calendar updates, new contracts: everything. Whenever there is a new email or calendar invite, my phone will tell me. I don't have to worry about missing something important, it's always there. On the other hand, my personal email is full of junk mail, promotional collateral and the occasional note from a friend or family member. I don't need to know every time there is a new offer or sale so those notifications have been turned off. When I'm ready for them after work, my agent, the phone, will tell me.

You can also use tools like Unroll.me and Sanebox on your phone to consolidate unimportant emails and archive messages that you don't need to see during prime productivity hours. In the sports world, ESPN's ScoreCenter app allows you to customize the app to send push notifications about every update of your favorite team(s). Or you can check in to see the final score of the big teams in your area.

At The Point Of Need Sometimes "a bite to eat" won't cut it. Or maybe your lunch allowance is only eight dollars, not eighty. Apps like UrbanSpoon help you find the right restaurant in your area based on preferences like style, price and reviews. Other industries have also jumped on board. GasBuddy uses geographic location to tell you the nearest gas stations, as well as the cheapest. It will even notify you of potential upcoming gas hikes in your area so you can fill up before the price change.

Customized apps are doing this for the business world as well; providing tools to employees to give them bite-sized knowledge at the moment of need, or to guide them through an unfamiliar task. They are improving workplace efficiency. Marc J. Rosenberg, in his whitepaper, "At The Moment Of Need: The Case For Performance Support", said these support tools, "[stand] alone, providing a highly cost-effective approach to improving the capabilities of workers, anytime and anywhere."

Remove Barriers - Take the Fast Lane Wouldn't a VIP pass for life be great? You could pass all the road cones and gated doorways to get to exactly what you want, no more waiting. Apps like Dashlane and Roboform are password security managers, which allow the user to enter one password to unlock all gate-protected content across all platforms. No more stopping at the entrance; just show your pass once, and then 'welcome to the party!'

Help Me Make Decisions My stock market IQ is not what it should be. And frankly I can't promise that it ever will be. But apps from market experts like Scottrade and ETrade can help me act like an expert, even though I’m not. They inform me of what to buy and sell, as well as when to do it. The Scottrade app gives users advanced price alerts and technical analysis, recommending stocks to buy based on current trends and market history.

Other apps like Decide and BuyVia help you make better shopping decisions. By scanning barcodes through the app, BuyVia tells you the cheapest place to buy a product and if it is on sale somewhere else. Decide informs you about the likelihood of price changes and shares insights on whether a newer version of the product may be coming soon, possibly recommending to wait rather than buy.

A great agent helps his client stay informed and ready to act even in the most uncertain situations. Dave Canter helped his client, jobless and unproven kicker Jaret Holmes, to sign a hefty one-year contract with the New York Giants a few games into the NFL season… a season where all kicker and backup kicker positions had been filled. In his words, “That's watching a situation, knowing where teams are and when they are going to need someone. That's getting on the phone and not waiting until Monday morning. That's being a good sports agent.” The right mobile app can take on the role of a good agent in your personal life, helping you take advantage of opportunities and getting you the right information at the right time.

While the apps mentioned above are great at solving specific problems, the app for your challenge may not exist yet. Maybe your mobile ‘personal agent’ is just waiting to be dreamed up. We invite you to consider your needs and what the perfect mobile solution would do for you and your organization. Then, let's talk!

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