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Things that the Year 2020 has Left Behind for Us – ReadWrite

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Things that the Year 2020 has Left Behind for Us - ReadWrite


Fireflies-these tiny little insects have intrigued me since childhood especially when I run after them. The idea of a firefly glowing in the dark has positivity to it. Have you ever wondered how they work or hve you observed the phenomenon of fireflies glowing?

“Be like a firefly, Be like that little torchbearer firefly who guides you on way out from darkness” Aiman Tahir Laghari

It seems these beauties glow in the dark as if guiding you without expecting something in return. That may sound philosophical to you — but, hey, it’s 2021 — and we are surviving a pandemic — we can be philosophical if we want to. The firefly makes me think of the ideas of Empathy, Kindness and Selflessness — which all of us need more than ever after the pandemic.

When we started in to the year 2020 — none of us expected the onslaught of the pandemic, or what it would mean to the entire world. What we were learning felt like a scene from a science-fiction movie — that the world had Halted. At least, I never thought that one day, I would wake up to a complete lockdown.

Coronavirus pandemic was like a “fear of the unknown” where not only thousands have lost a beloved family member or friend — but so many of us even lost our sole way of earning a living.

Fighting a battle of survival from an unseen novel coronavirus has been really tough on all of humanity.

To me the pandemic seemed like time had stopped and I couldn’t help but realize that we humans really take everything for granted, be it any emotion, someone’s effort or just life in general.

PANDEMIC without a doubt came upon with many life lessons. Just like every cloud has a silver lining to it (though I hate that phrase), so does a pandemic. If you want to know how pandemic has impacted us and what has it taught us then Read on.

Things You’ll Want to Take Away from the Pandemic

  • Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Yes, I would be starting firstly from this particular thing as without a doubt not all heroes wear capes. They can be just any human around you and that’s what pandemic has proved. First of all, the healthcare workers, who put their lives on the line to provide healthcare services to all those who were affected by the virus.

Putting aside their families and life, they are still working more than ever. Some people might argue that it’s their job anyway — or maybe their duty. But, just stop and think for a second, consider yourself in their shoes and think what they are doing even knowing they could lose their life — yeah, it takes huge courage.

Many in the medical fied have lost their colleagues right in front of their eyes, yet are firm to fight within the borders of their jobs and continue with it. These thoughts made me think about gaining a new definition of heroes, and I hope you will too.

What About Tech? We Can Thank Tech for Keeping Us Afloat During the Pandemic.

Let’s not forget all the tech and IT engineers here as well, who worked day and night to create software to connect doctors and patients remotely. Apart from the coronavirus affected people there were other patients of various illnesses including cancer needing dire attention too. Telehealth did play a significant role in current times as well.

  • Story of All – A Collective Narrative

We all, no matter where we live on the earth or which race, religion, ethnicity, gender, colour, age or caste we belong to, we all have been affected by this pandemic either directly or indirectly. So, for the first time, we all can completely relate it with each other and be nothing but Kind.

It was and still is a nightmare, but the promising work and delivery of the vaccines and research are giving hope to humanity. Everyone is working towards one aim e.g., to find the cure as soon as possible to eradicate the coronavirus — or at least we see the world working quickly — together — to keep the vaccines rolling out.

  • Future is not Divided but United

The buzzwords of liability and vulnerability have always been in work management. But, the outbreak of the coronavirus has proved that those words are hardly even correct, let alone concrete anymore.

As per the United Nations, approximately 25 million people all over the world are expected to lose their jobs. Everyone is going to be affected by this pandemic that includes an unemployed, low-income employee or high self-employed individuals.

Current times have shown how vulnerable we humans are, in fact, more than ever.

Considering this digitalized era, the one thing is now more clear than ever that social society net is now widening and in future work would be inclusive of all types of workers. Sanitization staff, food and safety staff, young engineers, scientific researchers and the digital healthcare providers were among the first ones to react to the pandemic.

So, in my opinion, once the pandemic is over, it will definitely widen our mutual solidarity and kinship which will allow everyone to work together for a particular cause — if we will? Will YOU?

  • Empathy, Kindness and Love Can Win

Empathy and Kindness go hand in hand. In this digital era, where we all are prone to various forms of bullying or harassment or simply negativity, the lockdown and pandemic proved that we need to break this curse.

On one hand, the pandemic had taken lives, it also allowed the best to come out of us, as humans, too. We need each other — we need connectivity

The young generation of my country has volunteered a lot amidst pandemic. From volunteering to provide rations to the people in amidst of lockdown to blood donations and volunteering online to provide psychological help the best we can.

Frontline healthcare providers are still working hard to help the country. Everyone in all countries are trying to play their part and focus best efforts on saving lives. In my country and other countries we have seen people who were cured of COVID-19 donated their plasma as well.

Online Groups

Instead of sitting idly, some youngsters even formed online groups on Facebook and other social channels in connecting everyone who needed any kind of help. The social stigma around mental health has finally made a positive turn as well. We see many free online counselling sessions for stress management — a great beginning.

Teachers

Not only this, the teachers who loved communicating and physically delivering lectures have put their best efforts forward to learn the technology and use it for the betterment of their students.

To me — the extra dedication of our teachers is a tremendous show of true empathy and kindness.

For the last year — the pandemic year (and we’re still going), it’s taught us that no matter what, it’s always Kindness, Empathy and Love that Wins, and that these very ingredients can be applied to tackle any crisis.

  • A Time of Self-Realization and Healing

We all have struggled in the year 2020 — but if you are still here and reading this piece of writing, brace yourself and give yourself a hug that you made it out of 2020.

On the one hand, you can be happy for the feeling that you are still here on this planet — on the other hand, last year gave us a chance to Sit, to Rethink, to Declutter, to Restart ourselves and our lives.

I am speaking to every person. We have all been quarantined at home — we have all been alone — we have all lost something or someone in someway. This makes is aperfect time for self-realization and for maintaining health amidst pandemic.

The quarantine really worked for me for “self-realization.” It gae me the chance to look at things and emotions which I had no courage to face and improve before. I can do better and you can too. The year 2020 just was a blessing in disguise for me and I hope you will let it be a great remembrance for you as well.

The Pursuit of Self-Realization

In the pursuit of self-realization and inner peace we may think to divide the emotions as either bad or good, sad or happy. But, I believe that these emotions of ours have more to offer us. From shallow to deep insight and realization, our emotions are there. Blessings and suffering both come hand in hand together under the veil of such pandemics.

Please take a deep breath and listen to me. One blessing in the last year is that you survived. Now ask, how will you play your part? Are you going to sit back and watch or can you take this sign from the universe and step forward and do something more with your life? No one can play your life-part better than you do.

Generally, when you have feelings that you are a failure or you have failed you are unhappy. Being stuck at home made all of those feelings worse. But, if you look deeper at your feelings — there is more to it. There is a lot to be dealt with in grief, sadness, mourning, sympathy and empathy. The BEST NEWS — if you are feeling these emotions — it simply shows that You Are A Human.

The last year has been overwhelming — overwhelming, overwhelming. But it may just mean that it’s a high time that we do our self-analysis. Have you observed the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly? Consider, just like the caterpillar, last year was your metamorphosis phase, and you can start anew.

Take Away Note

Let’s not lose hope, optimism and empathy. Those who sacrificed their lives for us showed what the year 2020 has taken and left for us.

We all still have the chance to emerge and soar high for a better life and move forward to a better cause — especially without compromising our health in this digital era.

This mere ordinary life is not ordinary anymore as it was a part of catastrophe and we survived. We all have witnessed the horrors of a pandemic.

Even when we were scared of technology, it was a technology that gave hope. It was also the compassion that didn’t surrender in front of coronavirus.

I don’t know what exactly will emerge from this pandemic outbreak. But, I am sure we should not take health for granted. We should work together for a cause with a hope for a better hope.

Aiman Tahir Laghari

Aiman Tahir Laghari is a microbiologist and scientific research enthusiast. Currently, she is working as a “Content Specialist” at Healthwire.pk. She loves to read, write and share her views on Health, Wellness, Science, and general well-being.

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6 Software Solutions Your B2B Company Needs in Its Tech Stack – ReadWrite

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Brad Anderson


Communication and collaboration between departments and teams are essential for efficiency and success. While each team member has an individual job and departments carry out different functions, they can’t work in a vacuum.

Software Solutions Your B2B Company Needs

Client-based applications may have been sufficient in the past. But with the need for instantaneous, anytime, anywhere data sharing, cloud-based solutions can streamline your operations.

Cloud services fall under various categories. Software as a service, or SaaS, is the best known. However, other models such as integration platform as a service, or IPaaS, are providing new capabilities. An IPaaS lets you integrate local and cloud applications. You can create and implement ways to seamlessly transfer data back and forth between the two.

The following 6 software solutions can optimize everything from app integration and secure document sharing to task automation and security training.

Read on to discover the cloud-based services your business needs in its tech stack.

1. Workato

Workato is a business automation platform that connects the multiple applications your company uses. Your B2B organization can develop customized workflows and automate them. Unlike with a traditional IPaaS, you don’t need the IT folks to create these processes.

The platform doesn’t require knowledge of complicated coding in order to automate and optimize workflows.

That means employees that work in non-technical roles like marketing and finance can use Workato, too. There are AI chatbots for easy and constant access to data across departments. Gartner has recognized Workato as a market leader in the enterprise IPaaS arena for three consecutive years.

2. CapLinked

Businesses can securely upload, share, and collaborate on deal-related documents with CapLinked. What makes this tool so versatile is that you can create and manage different virtual workspaces. Set up one space with documents that pertain to supplier contracts, then create another space for internal strategic marketing plans.

CapLinked has built-in communication features, including editing and deadline alerts, email updates, FAQ notifications, and instant messaging. You can also set and change access at the file or workspace level as employees and contacts change. To make this process simpler, you can create and manage groups from contact lists.

Implement extra layers of security by requiring logins to open downloaded files. These permissions can be taken away as needed, along with viewing and printing abilities. You can also enable watermarking if desired. And rest assured that CapLinked’s servers are SSAE 18 and ISO 27001 certified; the platform is also HIPAA and SOC 2 compliant.

3. Stampli

Stampli is an accounts payable automation solution. This platform connects to the accounting system your company already uses. Stampli can read invoices as they come in and learn how to code and send them through for approval. With built-in AI, this tool automatically detects duplicates, makes calculations, and provides purchase order support.

Communication about invoices happens right in the application. If there are questions about whether a department received products or services, they can be easily answered. This can help make the approval process more efficient and accurate.

Security, auditing, and payments are controllable from within the dashboard. You can set permissions for employee access to invoices and information. Payments can go out through your existing process, or you can use Stampli Direct Pay. All direct-pay transactions are done via the Automated Clearing House, or ACH, making reconciliation time, less of a headache.

4. Paycom

Paycom is a SaaS human resources solution that can manage workflows related to attracting new employees, developing existing ones, running payroll, and delivering benefits. The talent acquisition piece automates online job postings, candidate tracking, and onboarding for new hires. Your HR team won’t have to re-enter successful candidate data for background checks, tax credits, or I-9 verifications.

Performance reviews, goals, and expectations for current team members fall under Paycom’s talent management dashboard. Supervisors can work with HR to determine skills and requirements for positions, in addition to salaries. If desired, employees can complete 360-degree reviews for peers and self-evaluations.

The payroll function integrates regular paychecks, expense report reimbursements, and garnishments. Any changes to federal and local state payroll tax laws will be reflected in the software. Accounting reports for general ledger purposes can be customized and automated.

Paycom lets your team members see their elected benefits and how making changes to insurance plans would impact their deductions. They can change their insurance coverage from the application and ask any questions they might have.

5. Salesforce

Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management platform. It has individualized solutions for industries that deal with B2B clients, such as telecom, financial services, and manufacturing. Up-and-coming businesses can choose Salesforce’s small business solutions to help manage growth. Sales, marketing, service, tech, and e-commerce teams can work together to nurture leads and clients.

Each function’s team is able to see the same data about your company’s customers. When customer service reports repeat problems with a client’s experience, account executives will know not to push more products for now. Salesforce has various apps to coincide with the buyer’s journey, from initial interest to repeat business. All departments can analyze identical trends to identify strengths and opportunities to retain and increase market share.

For your staff, Salesforce offers Einstein AI. This is a built-in tool that takes care of repetitive tasks so your team can concentrate on the meaningful parts of their jobs. Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, they can communicate and collaborate effectively with each other. Customer records, reports, plans, and discussions can all be found in one location.

6. KnowBe4

CompTIA reports that phishing scams contribute to 80% of security incidents in organizations. As hackers develop more sophisticated emails and texts, employees can be tricked into giving away confidential information.

KnowBe4 trains your staff to recognize phishing, domain spoofs, and social engineering exploits. The application can identify weak passwords, twin domains, and whether your current network security measures can block ransomware attacks.

These capabilities can pinpoint weaknesses in your company’s security and employees’ knowledge. KnowBe4 can scale according to how many employees you have. Or if your company handles network security for others, you can use the channel partnership package.

As an automated training solution, KnowBe4 increases your team’s awareness of attackers’ methods. Employees learn through simulated attacks, and you get to see the results so you can track the training’s effectiveness. Over time, your organization becomes more secure by teaching staff what to do with suspicious emails or links.

Conclusion

Your B2B company needs these software solutions in its tech stack

Hosting application after application on local servers is no longer practical. It’s too easy to run out of space and go over budget.

While your staff can access the same data using old-school methods, why risk miscommunication?

Cloud-based software solutions solve both problems while ensuring your company has the tools it needs to compete.

Image Credit: rasik; pexels; thank you!

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

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Data Privacy – Why Users Should Care and How the Tech Industry Should Safeguard Data – ReadWrite

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Nigel Cannings


It is probably obvious to most people that certain personal information should be tightly protected — especially bank details, health records, and passwords. The motivation might be to protect us from criminal activity, embarrassment, or just because it is not anyone else’s business. Users should care about data privacy — and the tech industry should safeguard your data.

It’s essential to understand that ALL personal data is now the fuel of the digital economy.

And that means that there is an entire industry worth billions of dollars devoted to finding everything out about YOU. Your friends. Your shopping habits. Where you live and who you live with. Everything is up for grabs and harnessed for one simple reason.  To make it easier to target you with adverts persuading you to buy things you might not purchase otherwise. 

Data Privacy – Why Users Should Care and How the Tech Industry Should Safeguard Data 

We all know about adverts that follow us around the Internet (a process known as remarketing). Many people have stories about how a conversation with someone about buying something or maybe seeing a movie, somehow led to an advert about it.

They are convinced that their phone is listening to everything they are saying. And, your phone IS listening – but not for the reasons you think. Actually, it’s down to the incredible power of today’s predictive algorithms. They probably know more about what you will want to do or buy next than you do. Based on billions and billions of interactions observed from other people just like you.

Some big life and tech industry questions

The big question is: if you know that your “important” information is protected, does tracking matter? Should you care if your other data is being used to track you? Especially if it results in free or low-priced apps that make your life easier or more pleasurable. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Gmail or Uber.

The first issue is simply a very human one. “I’m just not sure that I’m that comfortable with someone having access to everything that I’m doing.” No one reads 1984 and thinks that seems like a wonderful way to live. It just feels wrong.

There are real and practical data issues that need to be addressed.

There is a lot more at play than simply being sold a new appliance. We now know that democracy itself can be manipulated by the very technology that also sells us washing powder.

1960’s Simulamatics Corporation

The idea is not new. It actually goes back to the early 60s and the rise of the Simulamatics Corporation. It came up with the idea of identifying groups of people and computerizing them so that their behavior could be predicted.

The computer power and availability of data was a fraction of that available today. But the idea was there. And if you believe the Simulmatics Corporation, their data and predictions were enough to forecast and swing elections. (For more information on the dawn of this type of data science, read the fascinating If Then by Jill Lepore.)

Cambridge Analytica

Fast forward to the present day, and we are still feeling the effects of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Where the process of mining publicly available data, made it possible to push one country to break with its largest trading partner. And another to elect the worst or best President it has ever had.   

One wryly amusing side story from the Brexit campaign is that contrary to popular belief, Cambridge Analytica had no involvement in that campaign at all, according to a three-year probe by the Information Commissioner.

However, they did find that “there are systemic vulnerabilities in our democratic systems” caused by the availability of personal data. That alone should be enough to make us demand that our data is better protected and regulated.

Things are changing. Slowly. And not always in ways where the motives are entirely transparent.

Convenience – not always benevolent

Take two recent examples – Apple vs. Facebook and Google against everyone else.

Apple vs. Facebook 

In its latest update to its mobile operating system, iOS 14, Apple has released a new security feature that centers around the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers — Look it up — too good to miss).

Oh, Joy!! This is a unique identifier for every iPhone and iPad, which allows advertisers to track the effectiveness of their advertising. Apple has decided to make this an opt-in feature for users. It supplies a one-time pop-up box that asks users whether they want to be tracked by Facebook or not. Verizon has made it so on their phone system — you can opt-out.

On the face of it, it seems obvious, why would you wouldn’t want to be tracked?

Mark Zuckerberg, not perhaps someone you would normally feel sympathy with, says this change “threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers.”

The reality is that Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and Apple owns iMessage. 

Facebook sees the changes, not as a way to protect consumers, but to cripple Facebook. “Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own.” 

Google vs. Everyone Else

Google controls the world’s most popular browser, Chrome, and has announced that it is implanting sweeping changes to “third-party cookies.”

These are the nasties that track you across the internet. When your browser knows that you were recently on Site A, looking at a particular product, it can shove an advert at you to tempt you to buy the same thing. 

The proposal is that these cookies will be replaced with a type of group ID. This identifies you as part of a particular “tribe” of people who Google thinks have similar interests. Google will supposedly stop third-party cookies — SOMETIME NEXT YEAR — 2022. They will already have all they need in their data storage by then.

We only have to wait another year for the implementation by Google

It sounds fantastic because third-party tracking is considered to be one of the most intrusive aspects of web browsing. Why? Because it sprays your data around the internet in an unregulated manner, leaking privacy with every new site you visit.

So — after another year — the change will dramatically limit the ability of almost every company on the internet to target specific ads at you. Because they will no longer be able to rely on collecting data second-hand through third-party cookies.  

Best for Google

Except for Google. Who is one of the largest collectors of *first* party data on the internet? Google collects data from your searches through Gmail and Google Maps. If the company’s ability to target you is better, and everyone else’s is worse, surely this means that more money gets spent on Google ads, at the expense of other advertisers?

What both cases show is that it is unlikely big tech companies will act in your best interest when it comes to the management of personal data.

Especially if that personal data is what fuels their bottom line. Is a degree of regulation and perhaps some technology rethinking needed?

Europe has led the way to protect private data — GDPR

Europe has led the way in terms of the regulation of private data, and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is probably the most comprehensive data privacy law ever enacted.

But does GDPR have any real teeth?

It is estimated that $9 billion was spent in preparation for GDPR. For the last calendar year, DLA Piper estimates that fines across the whole of Europe stand at about 114m Euros.

With the enormous focus on data privacy — that fines can be up to 4% of global turnover, it doesn’t seem that GDPR hasn’t quite got into its stride yet.

Data Privacy – Consumer — why you should care. in the

The future of data privacy probably rests in the hands of the consumer. And the willingness of all of us to pay for the services that are subsidized by the money made from our data.

Tim Berners-Lee, famously the inventor of the World Wide Web, has gone on a mission to reclaim personal data with the idea of data “Pods.” These pods put personal data is in the hands of the individual, and are only handed out on a very selective basis. For this to work, we need to rearchitect the internet. And consider how far convenience trumps privacy.  

Think about something as simple as email. Who doesn’t love being able to go on to Gmail and search for email? Or start a new email and have Google suggest whole sentences for you?

All of this connection relies (today) on Google having full access to your data.

What about Alexa? How great to walk into the kitchen, and switch on the radio. But more than 20 times a day, that same Alexa device is activating and sending data to Amazon accidentally: And somewhere in an office block in Romania, someone is listening to it.

To secure our data, we must start to think more about local processing of data. Including searchable encryption and homomorphic data processing. All ways of minimizing data leakage. It can all be done. And we can do much of it right now. 

But it needs someone to pay. For all our talk about how we want our data to stay “ours,” it is our data that is picking up the tab right now.

Image Credit: andres ayrton; pexels; thank you!

Nigel Cannings

CTO at Intelligent Voice

Nigel Cannings is the CTO at Intelligent Voice. He has over 25 years’ experience in both Law and Technology, is the founder of Intelligent Voice Ltd and a pioneer in all things voice. Nigel is also a regular speaker at industry events not limited to NVIDIA, IBM, HPE and AI Financial Summits.

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Technology Isn’t Always Productive – Here’s How to Use it Appropriately – ReadWrite

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The Communication Pain Points for Remote Teams (and How to Solve Them) - ReadWrite


Technology has revolutionized the way we live, work, and play. It’s a field of miraculous, magical developments that always have the power to help us save time, do more, and ultimately become more productive.

Right?

Technology Isn’t Always Productive

You might have had some experiences with technology that make you question whether a new app, a new gadget, or a new system is actually adding value to your life.

For example, you might have upgraded to a new project management system that ends up taking twice as much time to use. Or, even more commonly, you might have found yourself endlessly scrolling through your Twitter feed in the middle of an important project.

As a generalized, overarching trend, technology definitely makes us productive.

We’re capable of far more than we were even 10 years ago, and new industries and opportunities emerge every year from new tech. But technology isn’t always productive – in fact, it can sometimes rob you of productive time.

What steps can you take to ensure that all your technology choices end in higher productivity (or at least neutrality)?

Here’s How to Use Technology Appropriately

Outline Your Goals in Advance

Before adopting any new technology, it’s important to outline all your goals in advance. What, exactly, are you hoping to achieve?

Many new technologies make vague promises about making your life better, and many consumers end up buying those products because they seem, in some ambiguous way, “better” than what you currently have.

For example, you have the option to upgrade your refrigerator to a smart fridge. But what are you actually hoping to achieve from this upgrade? Do you want your food to spoil less often? Do you want to stay better organized with your food purchases? A refrigerator upgrade may not be necessary to achieve these goals.

What does productivity mean to you?

You’ll also need to think about what “productive” actually means to you. If a piece of new technology improved your productivity, what would that look like? Some technologies automate or simplify some aspect of your job (or life), only to introduce new problems.

For example, you might develop an algorithm that automatically generates a reading list for you – but it doesn’t always work quite right, so you have to sort through the list manually. You’ve saved an hour on task A, but you’re spending an hour on a new task, task B.

The clearer your goals are, the less likely you’ll be to use technology that has a net negative effect.

Rely on Objective Data

When choosing new technologies and evaluating their ability to improve your productivity, you need to rely on hard, objective data. What, specifically, is this improving and how much is it improving it?

This will help you filter out:

  • Cognitive biases. Human beings aren’t very logical creatures. We’re afflicted with a variety of cognitive biases that can distort how we perceive things.
  • Subjective feelings. You might feel like your phone is making you more productive, but the data may say something otherwise. This frequently happens with new acquisitions; we often like to justify our investments and pretend there are benefits when there aren’t any.
  • Claims and anecdotal reports. Tech companies often promote their products by citing good reviews and happy customers. But anecdotal evidence and personal claims rarely tell the full story.

Always Review Your Options in Depth

When searching for new technology, you’ll probably have many options to choose from. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of competitors in almost every imaginable niche, so it’s important to review your choices carefully before making a final call.

Consider these choices for your technology:

  • Features and functionality. What does this product have that other competing products don’t have? Even more importantly, what does it do to boost your productivity?
  • Flexibility and scalability. How much can this product change, grow, and evolve with your company? This is especially important if you’re going to scale your business.
  • Intuitiveness and learnability. How long will it take to learn how to use this system properly? Low intuitiveness can compromise even the best tech investment.
  • Ratings and reviews. When combined with other considerations, ratings and reviews can be valuable in helping you make up your mind.
  • Objective metrics. More importantly, though, you’ll need to look at the numbers. How many hours could this save you? What new tasks will it require?
  • Costs. There may be a new app or gadget that can boost your productivity by 10 percent. But if it costs $10,000 a year, it may not be worth it. Consider the costs as well.

Automate Whatever You Can – but Understand the Limits

Automation is one of the best ways to save time and increase productivity in a business environment. Accordingly, you should strive to automate whatever you can.

That said, there are some limitations to what you can automate effectively. Automation relies on predictability and consistency; in an environment with unknown variables or areas that require human creativity, automation becomes less practical.

Excessive automation can also compromise certain aspects of your business; for example, you might be able to automate all your email marketing and sales campaigns, but it could turn people off for being too repetitive and “cold.”

Minimize Apps

For the most part, you should strive to limit the number of apps you rely on, both to simplify your infrastructure and to minimize time spent jumping between systems.

You can do this by consolidating the functionality of several apps into one, relying on integrations to send data to and from various apps, and by resisting the temptation to buy new apps just because they’re new and look cool.

Set Limits and Restrictions

Some apps and devices make it hard to be productive because they occupy too much of your time or interfere with your life in some crucial way. Accordingly, it’s advisable to set limits and restrictions for yourself, sometimes within the apps themselves.

For example:

  • Screen time. Most smartphones and modern devices have built-in settings and apps to help you track your screen time. You might even be able to limit it. This is especially important for apps and devices that tend to distract you or pull you away from more productive work.
  • Notifications and distractions. You should also be aware that even one small distraction has the potential to harm your productivity for nearly an hour; it takes time to build focus and momentum, and even a seemingly small distraction can ruin that. Turn off notifications wherever and whenever possible and consider closing out apps that might distract you (such as your email account during a busy workday).
  • Communication. Communication is valuable in any workplace or home, but modern technology makes it all too easy to get in touch with someone – even when they’re busy. Don’t drop everything you’re doing every time you get an email, instant message, or request for a video call; use your communication apps intentionally and mindfully.

Measure and Reflect

Rely on a combination of built-in tech tools, time trackers, and other analytics dashboards to keep track of your productivity and your progress. How are you using the various tools available in your arsenal? How much time are you spending on various platforms and on screens? How many hours are you working and how much were you able to get done?

Consistently measure your productivity and observe how it changes over time.

Don’t just assume that a new piece of tech is boosting your performance; try to prove it. If it’s not working for you, consider cutting it and moving onto something else.

If you aren’t careful, a new app, a new gadget, or another high-tech investment can end up working against you, either by distracting you, interfering with your work, or making something you were already doing harder.

As long as you think critically about your new tech adoption and continue to be discerning in your tech infrastructure, you can end up benefitting from new tech.

Image Credit: curioso photography; pexels; thank you!

Timothy Carter

Chief Revenue Officer

Timothy Carter is the Chief Revenue Officer of the Seattle digital marketing agency SEO.co, DEV.co & PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach…preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee.

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