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Siri, You Are Not a Virtual Assistant!
by Christina Winsey


With the rise of smart phone apps, a misnomer and strong misconception has caused some circles to believe that a virtual assistant is merely an app - a talking computer, such as Siri on the I-Phone, Vlingo, Dragon Mobile Assistant or Google's EVA for Android.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Yes, referring to the word "virtual" does mean "not physically or actually there."  But that is truly the only thing a human virtual assistant and a computer-generated task manager (which is really what these app assistants are) have in common. 

Let's take a closer look:

Webster's Dictionary defines the word "virtual" as follows:

Of, relating to, or being a hypothetical particle whose existence is inferred from indirect evidence a : occurring or existing primarily online b : of, relating to, or existing within a virtual reality. So thanks, Webster, for defending the app assistant by saying "virtual" implies not "real" -- not a person, or actual thing in concrete physical reality.

Thank goodness
Wikipedia, however, clarifies the description of a virtual assistant. One quote states: "virtual assistant... individuals as well as companies who work remotely as an independent professional, providing a wide range of products and services both to businesses as well as consumers."  

A virtual assistant then is "virtually" there  - i.e. "works remotely," is most definitely a person and a
professional (very much alive!) thinking, analyzing, taking initiative and completing important work projects that they have been hired to do.

So why the rage over the task apps?  Humans have long desired to find a way to be free from what are considered mundane tasks, and certainly Siri, Vlingo and EVA can help as far as a robot can to the limits of the programming and the data it can read (like your location).  But using programming and pre-input data to make it easier to find the nearest Starbucks is not at all the same as what a human virtual assistant is capable of handling.

Most human virtual assistants work from home, and just a few of the complicated tasks they handle are ones such as:

*Ghost writing your blogs
*Creating and sending business correspondence
*Being in charge of administrative tasks for a sales division
*Freeing up your time by handling your prospects' inquiries - offering advice and information, based on your directed criteria
*Creating newsletters
*Managing your database
*Online live chat with customers

*Handling customer service emails
*Performing social media tasks
*And so much more - too much to list here!

The point is that a real Virtual Assistant, has the ability to contribute greatly to the well-being of a clients' business. Human VA's have the capability to understand your business on a deeper level and therefore can proactively help a business or business owner to achieve and accomplish certain goals.
Certainly compared to a real human Virtual Assistant, Siri and EVA are just "pretty voices" that leave a great deal to be desired!

About the Author:
Rev. Dr. Christina Winsey is a women's empowerment coach, and author and speaker.  Clients reduce stress, gain confidence, improve health, lose weight and conquer negative habits and addictions.  She writes a regular column called WORN Mothers for the free online magazine and can be reached at

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