A digital coach for the type-A boss

Does your gift of gab annoy everybody at work? Business 2.0 has the details on a new digital service that will, among other things, let you know when it's time to clam up.

By Lindsay Blakely, Business 2.0 Magazine writer-reporter

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Even the best executive could use a bit of nagging to help fix bad habits.

Or at least that's the idea behind the latest breakthrough from the technology labs of Accenture (Charts). The $17 billion consulting group has spent a year developing what it calls the Personal Performance Coach for type-A execs.

PERFORMANCE REVIEW: Accenture's system uses a phone, headset, and software to give instant feedback on, say, your pitch meeting.

Running on any Windows-based smartphone paired with a Bluetooth headset, this patented software system can be made to provide instant feedback on anything from your conversational style to your fitness regimen.

"It's an angel on your shoulder telling you how you should behave," says Accenture researcher Dana Le. The company is offering customized versions of the service, which it hopes its clients will rebrand and resell.

One application, which Accenture is aiming at the $5.7 billion market for sales training, is a conversation coach. Want to be a better listener in sales meetings? Simply program the device to make sure you spend only a third of the time talking during a conversation.

The earpiece identifies your voice, and the software keeps tabs on how long you have been talking. Interrupt too much and a computerized coach will whisper "Talk less" in your ear.

More promising, Le says, is an application for weight loss and fitness. Using GPS, or by triangulating its location from nearby Wi-Fi access points, the phone can tell how close you are to your gym, say, or the nearest McDonald's.

The coach can then remind you how long it's been since your last workout or gently chide you for all the fast-food joints you've visited that week. Ken Dulaney, vice president for mobile computing at research firm Gartner, says the health market is "a good emerging area for cell-phone services."

Indeed, consultants at Dallas-based Parks Associates say the U.S. digital home health market will grow from $68 million in 2007 to $467 million in 2010, fueled mainly by wellness monitoring services like Accenture's.  Top of page

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