A Guide to Personal Digital Assistants (with VA Comparison)

Learn about personal digital assistants and why they continue to be a thing in the present. See how it works and how it compares to virtual assistants.

Whether it’s expanding your business operation or keeping tabs on your increasing clientele, every day is just getting busier and busier. But you’re not complaining; this is exactly how you want your company to be: thriving and exploring plenty of opportunities.

Yet, despite your best efforts to get to every single office chore, you’re still falling behind. Alas, you’re left to figure out how to carry all these demanding responsibilities on top of running the company.

Mm, it seems like you’ve reached a point where extra support is duly needed. Then again, who should you ask for assistance? Personal digital assistants? You heard these tools are increasingly helpful, but you have no idea what they are all about. How are they even different from virtual assistants?

If you’d like to know and figure out which assistant is best to work with, read on and learn about personal digital assistants and how they compare to working with a VA.

What Is a Personal Digital Assistant?

Personal digital assistant is a term for a small, portable, handheld device or a palmtop that is used as a tool for computing, reading, conveying and organizing information for business or personal use. This tool can get a lot of work done, such as data entry, calendar management and address book storage.

The original purpose of a PDA is to be your electronic organizer, planning your daily activities in a very convenient way while also sharing information with your personal computer.

But nowadays, personal digital assistants have moved past note-taking or setting alarms. The new evolution of PDAs such as Siri and Alexa are taking on more central roles in our homes and businesses—no longer mere extensions of our PCs.

  • When Do You Need a Personal Digital Assistant?

    Personal digital assistants come in very handy if you :

    • Need to carry your phone numbers and addresses with you all the time
    • Have to keep up with more than one calendar
    • Track a number of dates and appointments within your busy schedule
    • Need information from your personal computer but you’re always away
  • What Does a Digital Assistant Do?

    Due to being small and portable, a PDA is easily accessible for the following tasks :

    • Send and receive email
    • Schedule appointments
    • Surf the web
    • Play music
    • Display videos
    • Address book
    • Serve as a game machine
    • Record videos
    • Send and receive phone calls
    • Manage calendar
    • Make recommendations

Are PDAs Still a Thing?

Yes, in fact, they are everywhere. Many people still rely on old-school personal digital assistants as a day-planner tool. You can see it apparent in the health and wellness industry, where personal digital assistants are used to track biomarkers of blood pressure and stress and alarm the users about prescriptions.

However, traditional PDAs are becoming less significant. What’s gaining popularity nowadays are smartphones that combine a myriad of features, like GPS, wireless internet and multimedia capabilities.

And, of course, the new generation of digital assistants—the super smart chatbots like Google and Cortona that you love ordering around through a voice command.

Topic that you might be interested: Lessons from Successful American Entrepreneurs

The Difference Between Personal Digital Assistants and Virtual Assistants

First of all, both personal digital assistants and virtual assistants are great at being your helping hand. Typically, their main focus is to support your daily admin work, although they are very capable of doing many other things at your whim.

If you’re unsure who to work with between these two assistants, let’s help you out by comparing three important factors that you should consider before deciding the best man, woman or tool for the job.

  • How Does a PDA Work?

    Although they are very quick on their feet, personal digital assistants need data to run. Without a given input string, they’re pretty stuck.

    In each step, PDAs choose a transition and read a combination of preprogrammed symbols, scripts and algorithms. They will respond using the knowledge database that is embedded and currently available in their system.

    Personal digital assistants typically come with a sync program. This means they can update information and synchronize it on your computer, smart electronics, smart homes and even cars.

  • How Does a Virtual Assistant Work?

    Virtual assistants are real people who are professionals that you can interact with virtually. They work online and use collaboration tools such as Google Workspace, Trello or WhatsApp that will both track and boost their performance.

    Do they need data to run? Not really; what they carry with them are skills and real experiences that help them perform each task to the best of their abilities.

The Cost

Cost is always a factor in weighing business decisions. For one, it helps determine your profitability. Second, it will give you an idea of how to set the price.

Therefore, it helps you to know where PDAs and VAs stand in the complex cost system.

  • Personal Digital Assistants

    One of the biggest drawbacks of PDA is the expense. Outside of paying for the tool itself, personal digital assistants are purchased with a corresponding utilization contract. You will pay for the monthly bill and the overage charges.

    Of course, the cost of these managed corporate assets will vary depending on the features you decide to buy.

  • Virtual Assistants

    On the flipside, the biggest draw of working with a virtual assistant is their cost-effectiveness. They get to eliminate almost all the overhead and operational costs that you worry about every month, standing at around 78% (operational cost) savings every year.

    The best part, though, is that you get to access top talent for a cheap price, with no costs for training, onboarding and all the extra traditional hiring expenses.

    The rates of a VA can vary depending on three factors: location, work to accomplish and skills and experience. Overall, you can expect to pay your virtual assistant an average of $3 to $10 per hour; however, more specialized work will command a higher price.

Work Capacity

You need to get the biggest bang for your buck. And the ability for each assistant to perform at an excellent pace for a period of time with varying conditions is where you’ll get it.

  • Personal Digital Assistants

    The funny thing is that for most people, personal digital assistants seem like a toy rather than something they can use for business.

    PDAs can easily turn into distractions when they’re not doing or satisfying your needs. Without a high degree of learnability, the work capacity for these tools is greatly reduced to alarm systems and just messing around.

    In terms of scope, PDAs are restricted to a certain level. These tools were not created to handle work in miniature preparation capacities. They can’t fully substitute your computers or displace your smartphones for everyday use.

    With regard to time, personal digital assistants are not exactly ideal for business arrangements. PDAs can be hard to utilize, especially for beginners, thus the passage of information may be conveyed with unpredictability and constraint.

  • Virtual Assistants

    Yes, virtual assistants are people who will get tired, sick and lose focus. But despite this human reality and vulnerability, these remote professionals can work in diverse conditions with limitless capabilities.

    For starters, they can offer round-the-clock service with a sprinkle of personal touch. Working across different time zones is not at all bad; this allows you to operate beyond your normal office hours. As a result, you get to cater to more clients and provide a prompt, personalized experience in the process.

    In addition, the line between what VAs can and can’t do is pretty blurred. They have all the creativity and emotional intelligence that allow them to accomplish higher-level tasks and create deep personal connections.

To Sum It Up!

Personal digital assistants have allowed business people to stay organized despite their grueling schedules, letting them work no matter where they are.

Then again, the same thing can be said for virtual assistants who can do the same work as PDAs, perhaps more.

The reality is that the choice between using personal digital assistants or virtual assistants depends on what you need and what works for you and your business. Seriously, we just made a comparison; go over it and figure out which assistant you are leaning toward.

However, if you’d like to know where we stand, we say that virtual assistants are the best way to provide a more secure and personalized experience.