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Data Integration – How Connecting Business Apss Boosts AI Capabilities – ReadWrite

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How Your Startup Can Use AI In Data-Driven Digital Marketing - ReadWrite


Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become omnipresent in our personal lives. The same is true in the business world. Data integration can help businesses take their AI applications to the next level.

In many respects, AI is now a mature business technology. Consequently, it’s no longer the sole province of pioneering companies. Not only have advanced analytics powered by ML become popular. Chatbots responding to customer requests through a Natural Language Processing (NLP) AI are also on the rise.

However, many are leaving AI’s full potential untapped.

More than anything, AI needs data. ML algorithms ingest large data sets for training. AI is at its best when it extracts actionable information from a myriad of data points that no human could conceivably make sense of.

Businesses collect ever-larger amounts of data. Yet, most fail to harness all the data they have for their AI applications.

In 2021, a massive section of business operations happens in apps. These are now usually cloud services by Software as a Service (SaaS) companies. There are accounting platforms like FreshBooks. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems like Salesforce. Marketing powerhouses like HubSpot.

According to recent statistics, the average business uses 73 different apps. Furthermore, employees conduct over 80% of their work in the cloud. In 2020, the pandemic additionally magnified these trends.

Enormous amounts of data live on each of these platforms. With integrations, these services can take advantage of each other’s data. This enables countless business processes to take place in the cloud, from marketing to financial reporting.

Yet few businesses take advantage of all the possible integrations to unify their data and put it at the disposal of AI and ML.

Having a data integration strategy matters. Here’s why, what the challenges are, and how your business can benefit.

Why Strive for Data Integration? To Create and Harness Synergy.

In business, AI has three central tasks: process automation, generating-depth analyses, and engaging customers and team members.

For all this, data from connected business platforms is invaluable.

Let’s take a core office technology as an example: business phone services. Modern business telephony is cloud-based, thanks to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. For businesses, this has countless advantages, some more obvious than others. VoIP has enabled multiple communication channels, from video conferencing to live chat.

But VoIP business telephony also enables AI applications.

For example, NLP AIs can transcribe voice interactions in real-time. This can be applied to every single conversation between company representatives and customers. Then, ML algorithms can run advanced analytics such as sentiment analysis on the transcripts. The result? Company representatives can receive an instant evaluation of their performance. They can go over the conversation and learn.

But by integrating with other platforms, this kind of AI-generated data becomes even more useful. Connect your cloud business phone system with a CRM, and you can add every transcript to a customer profile. This immediately boosts possibilities for personalization. In turn, this can increase your chances of conversion or retention.

You can also integrate the data into a personnel management platform. For instance, sentiment analyses of a company representative’s conversations might be frequently negative. You’ll see this in their performance evaluation. Then, you can tackle the problem. Targeted training could, for example, showcase positive examples from other transcripts.

Or imagine you’re using sentiment analysis algorithms to sift through online reviews. By itself, this will give you valuable insights into customer attitudes and expectations. But integrating it with data from your digital marketing platform, and you can go much further. AI can then correlate email campaigns or social media strategies with sentiment trends in online reviews.

Getting Crucial Information in Real-Time

Speed is another core advantage of integrating data to boost AI performance. Integration increases the amount of information you can access. What’s more, access becomes easier and much faster.

Let’s go back to the business telephony example. The transcripts from customer calls are in your CRM. Imagine someone calling with a problem they were having with one of your products. A few days later, the same customer calls again. Now, the AI assistant in your business phone service pulls the relevant CRM records. Before your representative even picks up, they get a full run-down of this customer’s case: How they’ve described their problem. Personal information from demographics to billing history. And even what conversational strategies in the last call worked best.

All this saves your customer from having to give a long-form recap of their problem. For one, this reduces frustration on their part. For another, it also allows your representative to address them in a personalized manner. Overall, the exchange will be more efficient and satisfactory for both parties. Your business saves resources and increases customer satisfaction at the same time. All thanks to AI integration.

Generate Positive Feedback Loops

A final significant advantage of business app data integration for AI is positive feedback loops.

This means that by integrating platforms, you generate new data. On this basis, you can refine your strategies and grow your platforms. Leading to more data.

Take chatbots as an example. These days, countless companies use them in their online stores and on their websites. They are powered by NLP AIs. Their usefulness hinges on whether they can provide relevant information to customers.

For this, context is crucial. Customer behavior can provide that context. By supplying chatbot AIs with behavioral analytics, you can increase their usefulness.

For this, you can feed customer data from e-commerce and website analytics platforms and feed it to an AI. Have the AI find patterns and use these patterns to train your chatbot. On this basis, it will give suggestions and make recommendations to customers. Then, track the further behavior of these customers. It will give you even more data – to refine your chatbot.

This feedback training between chatbot AIs and e-commerce analytics helps increase communication efficiency. And seriously boost customer experience and thus retention and sales.

The Challenges of Data Integration

As the examples above make clear, data integration entails countless benefits for AI. But it also poses several challenges in its implementation.

First, businesses looking to integrate data face the hurdle of siloed technologies. Data silos are inaccessible for ML algorithm training. Nor can trained models analyze their contents for decision-making.

Second, the readability of data is a central issue. Many platforms have idiosyncratic data structures and lack metadata or context. They might even save files in proprietary formats.

Third, the trustworthiness of data is often in question. A study in the Harvard Business Review has highlighted this. In it, almost 50% of companies admit to data integrity problems. Issues with false, inconsistent, or stale data are frequent. And even more troubling, more than half of enterprise data fails to provide value altogether, due to siloing.

There are several avenues businesses can take to avoid these pitfalls and overcome these challenges to effectively harness integrated data for AI. The first of these is data mapping to establish a single source of truth.

Data Mapping and Single Source of Truth

Strictly speaking, data mapping is a subfield of data integration. It describes the process of connecting a data snippet in one system to a corresponding item in another. For example: Mapping the “name” field in a CRM record to the “caller ID” field in a business phone system.

The goal of this is to unify data while maintaining its integrity.

Crucially, this also helps businesses create single sources of truth. This refers to a single master record, which can boast high accuracy and sees frequent updates. Other systems will derive their data from here.

This doesn’t mean that all data needs to be stored in a single record. But for each item, only one ultimate source should exist. Especially highly sensitive data – like names, addresses, or social security numbers – should be treated like this. This makes it much easier to control and audit how this information is handled while still harnessing its value.

The good news is that modern AI-based cataloging tools can maintain such master records. They can parse information from all your platforms and deduce credible metadata. They can also automate data cleaning and highlight inconsistencies. This is a crucial first step in dealing with data complexity.

Dealing with Data Complexity

As mentioned above, data readability is a major hurdle to overcome. At its core, that means dealing with data complexity.

More and more raw data is available. This raw data is available in countless different formats. These formats range from social media posts over e-commerce statistics to server logs.

In addition, context is lacking for a lot of this information, especially natural language data. Take a thread of social media posts, which may include abbreviations and typos. Many statements might not make sense without the accompanying emoji, GIFs, or videos.

Plus, all this information is scattered across an ever-growing number of platforms. And these platforms, in turn, may have dozens, if not hundreds, of third-party integrations.

Using AI to Overcome Data Integration Challenges

The good news is that AI systems are becoming better and better at handling these challenges. This means you can use AI to generate input data for AI.

First off, AI can conduct data mapping automatically with precision and speed. In addition, the mapping mechanism can weed out issues such as duplicates and missing values. This helps maintain data integrity and speeds up data unification.

Furthermore, AI makes it possible to automate regular exports of data siloed in various places to central data hubs. It can infer data structures and parse uncommon formats. And crucially, it can propagate and consolidate data across systems, drawing from a single source of truth.

Recently, AI and ML algorithms have become adept at parsing situational context. If the schema structure for the incoming data is unknown or only partially known, they will either judge on a pattern basis, or parse the content to decipher a schema.

AI-Assisted Integration or Self-Service APIs?

One crucial question of data integration remains, though. How exactly can a business go about it?

It’s easy to say that AI can do this and that, without specifying exactly how it does so.

Generally, there are three ways in which businesses can approach data integration.

First, enterprise-scale businesses probably have the resources to hire and task data analysts with establishing a system of integration and analysis. They have the required knowledge in coding and data mining to set up a system that is custom-tailored to their employers’ specific needs. With the right access to the administrative space of various business apps, little should stand in the way of success.

Second, you can opt for self-service analytics platforms. A growing number of platforms aims to make analytics easily available for non-specialists. Many of these come in the form of cloud APIs. Their aim is to democratize AI analytics. Following this philosophy, some platforms even offer chatbot-like features. These help you create an integration procedure conversationally.

And finally, you can – at the very least – harness the integrations that are already at your disposal. Many major business apps already offer native integrations with each other. Even more, they are compatible with bridges such as Zapier. In many cases, taking the time to explore the options of integrations that you have in your existing app ecosystem can already pay off big time. Prioritize platforms that offer AI analytics and automation capabilities, and then proceed to map out the nexus of available integrations.

Final Thoughts

Data integration is a challenge. But it’s a challenge worth tackling to reap the rewards.

Harnessing all the data at your business’ disposal is vital in 2021. It will help you understand your customers better, meet their needs, and increase your sales.

The best way to go about this is to use AI to improve AI through data integration.

You can either manually explore your existing integration options, find an easy-to-handle cloud API, or approach the task with the help of a professional analyst.

Putting the required systems and automated processes in place will take some time and effort. At the end of the day, it will be worth it.

You will be able to boost the quality of your algorithms, establish positive feedback loops, and gain insights at an unprecedented level. With decisions based on the insights, you’ll be able to steer your business through the times to come.

Hasan Saleem

Internet Entrepreneur and Digital Marketing Consultant.

Hasan is a seasoned web professional with an extensive record of successfully directing search and social media marketing operations to drive business development. Special expertise in eCommerce, new business startups, and online marketing.

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B2B Growth in the Light of Digital and 5G Era – Middle East Market – ReadWrite %

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telecommunication in MENA


The telecommunication industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region grew moderately between 2010 and 2014. Increased revenues resulted in a 1.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in 2014. The market flourished even when compared to the American and European telecom industries.

B2B Growth in the Light of Digital and 5G Era

Notably, most operators have invested in mainly the fiber and mobile markets (4G and 5G). The industry’s revenue is anticipated at 1.7% CAGR, which amounts to $7.1 billion. This rapid growth can be ensured by deploying innovative digital transformation and technologies.

The Telecommunication Industry in MENA Region

MENA Telecommunication market growth in B2B, especially in the context of their ongoing Digital Transformation and the preparation of 5G network and new services deployments.

 

The Telecommunication Industry in MENA Region Image Credit: pixabay; pexels

The MENA Market Trends and Forecasting

By 2025’s end, the MENA region will mark its stellar achievements in the telecom sector. This will be done with digital revolutions and the integration of new technologies and services—the data provided below spells out the telecom industry’s potential milestones by 2025.

Mobile Subscribers

There were 375 million mobile users in the MENA region in 2017. This amounts to 64% of the total population. It is projected to increase to 69% (459 million unique mobile subscribers) by 2025.

Mobile Operator Revenues

The revenue generated from mobile users was $68 billion in 2017. Trends and forecasts show that this will become $78 billion by 2025. The operator capital expenditure (CAPEX) from 2018-2020 is $34 billion.

Smartphones Connections

In 2017, smartphone connections were 49%. This percentage will be 74% by 2025’s end.

Telecom Market in the Digital Transformation Era

  1. Evolving Core Telecom Market

  • A great demand for data.
  • The decline of voice revenue due to the high demand for over-the-top media services.
  • A challenging regulatory environment.
  1. Growth in digital services

  • Growth in B2B (Business to Business) services such as IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, and megaprojects (E.g., smart cities).
  • Growth in B2C (Business to Consumer) services such as digital across entertainment, digital lifestyle, and emerging services.
  • Growth in areas like mobile financial services (MFS), digital advertising, and e-commerce.
  1. Network Transformation

  • Deployment of new access technologies (E.g., 5G, Fiber, Edge, NB-IoT, LTE-M).
  • Network virtualization and digitization of front-end and back-end.
  • IT full-stack modernization and Exchange-to-Exchange (E2E) orchestration.
  1. Changing Consumer Behaviors

  • Demand for a seamless customer experience.
  • Increasing demand for digital interactions across the customer journey.
  • Evolution of enterprises powered by Industry 4.0.
  1. Internal efficiencies and transformation

  • Enhancement of efficiencies and agility with Robotic Process Automation (RPA), analytics, and AI.
  • Optimization of operating models and process re-engineering.
  • Culture change and talent acquisition/ re-skilling for new capabilities.

Industries that will be impacted by 5G

Energy Sector

5G technology will ensure the efficient control of energy and power production. Furthermore, it will be used to process tower monitoring and remote transmission. It will also improve security.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing 5G use cases are tied to the mission-critical concept of factory automation (the processes that must happen in extremely tight time frames to ensure revenue stability without any loss).

In this industry, 5G will also enable abilities like real-time production inspection and assembly line maintenance.

Healthcare

5G will facilitate remote telesurgery and patient monitoring. This will enable doctors to provide care from afar. The network could help augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications.

Smart Cities

5G will improve smart cities’ prospects, including transportation, smart buildings, and smart metering.

Transportation

Thanks to 5G, the emergence of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) is growing faster than expected.

Enterprise concerns regarding 5G and Internet of Thing (IoT)

Concerns regarding 5G IoT
Enterprise concerns regarding 5G and Internet of Thing (IoT)                                         Image Credit: pixabay; pexels

1. IoT Use and Cases

IoT is associated with a positive investment profile. It is a key driver of the fourth industrial revolution. However, a surprising number of enterprises are still unconvinced about it.

40% of enterprises cite poor understanding of its benefits and use cases as a concern, the joint-top answer. IoT’s game-changing potential may be lost if these basic concerns are not addressed.

2. Immature Strategy

While the 5G investment is set to catch up with IoT spending over the next two years, doubts surround its readiness and relevance. 34% fear that 5G is immature, while 32% believe it is not relevant to overall technology and business strategy.

This is instructive since Telecommunications, Media and Technology (TMT) providers position 5G as much more than just a better mobile connection. Findings suggest that 5G has yet to punch its weight as a driver of strategic change.

3. Security and OPS

Both 5G and IoT will give rise to a new horizon of connectivity endpoints. While this can help catalyze new value propositions and closer customer relationships, it may also open the door to new cyber threats. Tellingly, this ranks as the highest concern for both technologies.

Enterprises also struggle to see how both technologies integrate with legacy systems or function with other emerging technologies.

Select 5G use cases for enterprise and B2B

Here are the three main pillars in which 5G might affect the use cases for KSA:

SMART GRIDS

  • Public
  • Mission-critical utilities –water active grid & energy active grid

Global electricity demand is growing at a tremendous pace. To manage this demand, new technological solutions such as smart grids and virtual power plants have emerged.

Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) are connected entities that optimize energy flow through the entire network. VPPs help owners gain maximum profit while keeping the electric network’s balance at the lowest cost available. Typically, they combine several types of resources.

LOGISTICS

Semi-Autonomous vehicles: Fully autonomous, self-driving cars may not be a reality just yet. However, semi-autonomous vehicles with intelligent driving systems installed by default will take to the highways in 2021. And by 2022, 100% of the new vehicles shipped by OEMs will have smart telematics and other connectivity systems.

New Solutions for vehicles: The greater state of connectivity will result in multiple new technological innovations and business models. These include new fleet management solutions, in-car payments and connected commerce, remote diagnostics and OTA updates, predictive maintenance, usage-based auto insurance, and more.

SMART CITIES

Smart Street Lights: A connected system that manages street light schedules, combined with LED lights, can decrease energy costs by up to 77%. This will generate a positive ROI in four years.

Connected CCTV Systems: They can streamline more data in real-time to ensure better monitoring of traffic conditions and public safety. For example, smart streetlights equipped with a video camera and/or gunshot detection sensors can deliver real-time information to officials so that they can respond faster.

Intelligent Parking: Smart parking stations can send 5G data about free parking spots and pricing straight to the driver’s onboard vehicle system. Such solutions can reduce traffic congestion by 8% and generate $93,700 in monthly revenue per parking space.

Connected Traffic Lights: New real-time traffic management systems can emerge and deliver a greater level of control over traffic flow in response to specific demand levels. The integration of 5G will allow for the creation and deployment of traffic strategies in response to real-time conditions like rush hour and congestions.

City managers could also use other strategies to prioritize public transport and optimize the overall traffic flow to reduce stop-start driving. This will reduce pollution.

How can 5G contribute to MENA operators?

1. Customized Pricing

Most providers offer multiple pricing plans with different data limits and other features. One plan might have low set-up fees and high overage charges, while a second offer the inverse.

When evaluating their options, most companies choose a standard plan rather than requesting a customized offering. This is because they lack insight into their connectivity needs and usage patterns.

Without this information, they often pay for unnecessary features, such as a data-volume allowance that far exceeds their requirements.

2. IoT Solutions

Solutions that are easy to adapt must be implemented. Real-time data analysis and the provision of rapid actions to changing needs will drive various sectors. Considering the MENA region and KSA landscape, smart cities, health care, and energy will be the leading sectors.

3. New Products & Services

With the enhancements of 5G, businesses will further change their working traditions. Virtual offices, holographic communications, and real-time live translations might easily become part of the new business environment and customer services. As Saudi is a service-oriented country, some of the new solutions could easily be monetized.

4. Smart Cities

Due to the government’s investments in improving the nation’s quality of life, there is vast potential in the adaptation of these services with a particular focus on security.

Conclusion

This article concludes that introducing the 5G network with digital reforms will create many opportunities for the MENA Region. It will assist investors and the telecom industry. Furthermore, it will lead to economic growth potent enough to enable the region to compete with the rest of the world.

Additional sources you may wish to read:

GSMA – The Mobile Economy Middle East and North Africa 2018

Ericsson, NGMN, TechRepublic, Tech Pro Research, ZDNet, CNET

TM forum Analysis, And Press Releases of Telco Op.

https://www.ey.com/en_gl/telecommunications

Additional Links on this Subject from ReadWrite:

  1. As Oil Flags, Middle Eastern Capital Flowing to IoT, Smart Cities
  2. Big Data in the Telecommunications Ecosystem
  3. Are Telecoms Being Overlooked in Smart City Deployments?
  4. Not Just Connectivity, Telecom Must Leverage the Most of IoT to Deliver Value-Based Services

Top Image Credit: jo kassis; pexels

Doruk Sardag

Digital strategy & innovation lead

Doruk Sardag is a Digital Strategy leader in Digital, and Innovation Competency in EY’s Consulting MENA. He has two bachelor’s degrees in engineering and two master’s degrees in Strategy and Finance.
Throughout his 17-year career, Doruk has gained expertise across a number of sectors, including Telecommunications, Banking & Technology, and Government & Public Sector. He has led large-scale digital strategy and transformation projects across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and has partnered with clients to develop and implement organizational strategies as well as start-up new organizations. Doruk’s experience in diverse markets such as Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Nigeria gives him a unique understanding of cultural differences and their implications when planning and executing short- and long-term strategic and innovative business plans.

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The Link Between Diversity, Inclusion and the Use of Technology – ReadWrite

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The Link Between Diversity, Inclusion and the Use of Technology - ReadWrite


It’s not news that technology has become an important factor in almost every aspect of our lives. More people are getting rid of traditional satellite TV and moving to streaming services, Alexa letting us know when to water our plants, and the average person spending almost 3 hours and 30 minutes of their day just on their phone. It’s safe to say technology is an essential part of our day-to-day lives.

It isn’t just limited to entertainment and convenience in our personal lives either; many of us could not do our jobs without technology. Whether we’re graphic designers whose entire role exists within a computer, to supermarkets whose tills use complex software to keep the shop running.

The Link Between Diversity, Inclusion and the Use of Technology

Our lives revolve around technology in many ways, which raises the question of why the UK is falling behind in adopting newer technology such as AI and deep learning in the workplace?

What if diversity in the technology industry is a related factor in whether or not your business will fall behind.

What does diversity have to do with technology?

A criticism often given to technology is that its level of diversity and inclusivity fall behind many other industries.

The technology sector is currently expanding 3 times faster than the rest of the UK economy, but the diversity numbers fall beyond other areas. Gender diversity is estimated at just 19% in tech, and this is compared to 49% in other industries. When you get to higher-level executive roles within the tech industry, gender diversity falls to just 5% of women in senior positions.

From a business perspective, McKinsey’s Diversity Matters Report found companies with high diversity levels are 33% more likely to outperform competitors.

There are four types of diversity that can be found in the workplace.

  • Internal – These are things individuals are born with that are difficult or impossible to change, such as ethnicity, age and gender.
  • External – Refers to characteristics an individual is not born with, but are shaped by their experiences and circumstances such as education and appearance.
  • Organizational – This refers to whether organizations have a wide variety of job functions, union affiliations and work locations.
  • World View – Dealing with the experiences that shape how an individual views the world, such as their political leaning or cultural background.

When a company looks to create all four types of diversity, they create an inclusive environment where there is no status quo on how an employee should look, or be. Research shows employees who feel they work in an inclusive environment work harder and are more likely to tackle difficult tasks with a positive attitude due to their sense of purpose and loyalty.

These varied issues don’t just lead to a better work environment — they lead to a better product.

How does diversity create a better product?

Timnit Gebru, a Microsoft researcher and co-founder of Black in AI, says the lack of diversity will definitely affect the development of artificial intelligence and progress in computers:

“There is bias to what kinds of problems we think are important, what kinds of research we think are important, and where we think AI should go.

When problems don’t affect us, we don’t think they’re that important, and we might not even know what these problems are, because we’re not interacting with the people who are experiencing them.”

Gebru’s argument is that because there is a lack of diversity within technology, there is a lack of diversity in the technology it produces, especially when it comes to complex artificial intelligence.

When we look back at only 19% of tech workers being female and how Apple’s first promised “expanse” health app tracked blood alcohol but not menstruation cycles, you can understand why a more gender-diverse team may have seen this addressed before public release.

For many people, adopting new technology can be difficult because the technology is simply not built for them.

We’ve seen soap dispensers with sensors programmed to only recognize lighter skin tones that simply don’t register darker skin tones. Then there is voice recognition, with many examples of people having to fake southern English accents so that Alexa can actually understand requests and statements.

If the newer technology can’t recognize your voice — this creates an idea that technology is not designed with a diverse society in mind. Therefore, it can’t be used by a diverse society. Some of the voice programs have AI — so it’s just a matter of ML that will eventually get your voice tones — so keep trying to be understood!

A Microsoft report shows only half of UK employees use AI to work faster, compared to 69% of employees worldwide.

The demand for AI and deep-learning technology is not going to slow in demand anytime soon.

Industries increasingly see uses for it, not only to solve complex data problems but to predict customer behavior and habits. However, only 32% of UK employees actually feel their workplace is doing enough to prepare them for the growing necessary use of technology.

Technology relies on not just testing in developmental stages, but real-world applications to evolve and improve.

With the UK’s slow adoption rate of some technologies, it limits a technology company’s ability to fully realize the potential of some applications.

When you look at technology through the lens that it may not be made for you, and therefore may not work for you — it becomes easier to see why people have a negative bias towards it in some countries.

Is there any way diversity and technology can work together?

Part of why it’s important to be critical of technology is because it’s become so important to us, and we’ve seen the incredible work it can do with regards to diversity and inclusion.

One of the many ways technology can improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace is through dedicated diversity and inclusion technologies. 43% of D&I technologies are used for the purpose of talent acquisition, including candidate sourcing and selection, and the key to many of these technologies is artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence can help remove unconscious bias in recruiting throughout the entire hiring process.

AI has actually been used to write job postings, where it can write factual descriptions without leading statements or biased language that could be seen as exclusionary.

We’re also seeing AI being used in applicant screening, where it can be programmed to ignore demographics like race, age – all of which have been shown to give candidates an unfair disadvantage whilst applying for jobs.

Research shows applicants with “white-sounding” names have a 25% chance of being called for an interview, whereas applicants with “BAME-sounding” names only have a 10% chance of being invited to interview.

AI will screen CVs without registering this information instead of focusing on relevant skills, experience, and keyword matching to ensure it’s the best talent for being interviewed for roles.

Technology can also be used to improve existing problems in the workplace, not just focus on finding new talent. We’re seeing increased use of intelligent automation in employee benefits and compensation.

By combing through multiple sources, a cognitive bot can offer accurate insight into the compensation and benefits patterns across your organization, giving an unbiased view of gaps across your workforce and creating an even working environment.

Technology has its part to play

Compared to many industries, technology as we know it is an incredibly new industry. But, it’s important to note that while it still has a long way to go to become the diverse, inclusive space it needs to be to create the most cutting-edge technology, it is actively working towards this and helping support other industries in this pursuit.

The biggest takeaway is that technology is still a product of human design, which means it is not a completely unbiased creation.

If we want to create programs and tools that the wider workforce can adopt, it needs to be designed by groups that represent the wider workforce and can look from a variety of angles.

Image Credit: fauxels; pexels

Amy Hunt

Amy is a digital marketer specialising in content marketing and digital PR for UK based agency, Boom Online Marketing. She has a keen interest in and is particularly fond of writing about mindfulness, well-being and workplace productivity.

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‍5 Remote Working Tips for the Modern Workplace – ReadWrite

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Man holding up five fingers in front of the camera.


It’s not an exaggeration to say that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed everything, including how we work. Many people have become remote employees, at least temporarily, for the first time in their careers.

While remote work has many benefits, it can be a difficult working arrangement to adjust to for some people — especially when other family members and/or roommates have been forced into quarantine at home. Home and work-life are constantly colliding.

We’re here to help and have created this brief guide with remote working tips to help you be as productive as possible during this new remote working era. Let’s dive in!

‍The Remote Working Era

Remote work has been growing in popularity for some time. In fact, in 2019 48% of U.S. workers worked remotely at least once per week. But since the COVID-19 outbreak, pretty much everyone has become a remote worker.

While the current circumstances are quite undesirable, remote work, in general, has numerous benefits — even as we all shelter in our homes and practice social distancing:

  • Most employees are 22% more productive when working from home.
  • The average person has 43% less meetings than they did before the pandemic.
  • Most people have 2.5 more hours in their schedules than they did before COVID-19.

These are promising stats and proof that there is a silver lining, albeit a small one, to the current pandemic we’re all facing. We just have to take advantage of it.

‍5 Remote Working Tips for the Modern Workplace

Remote workers have the potential to be more productive than their in-office counterparts. But you have to follow a few tips, tricks, and best practices to reach this level of efficiency. Here are five remote working tips you can implement right now to become super productive during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.‍

1. Remove Distractions

Distraction is an ever-present concern, whether you’re working remotely or in-office. In fact, one in three millennials list chatty co-workers as their biggest distractions in the workplace. Now that we’re all working from home due to social distancing best practices, chatty co-workers are much less of a concern. But self-quarantined family members can make it hard to focus, too.

What’s the game plan? How can you concentrate on your work for solid stretches of time, even when the world around you seems intent on distracting you? We have a few suggestions:

  • Lock Your Door: This is one of the most important things you can do to avoid distractions. Why does this work so well? Because you’re physically blocking distractions from entering your workspace. Your family members won’t be able to just burst in and ask you a million questions that take your mind away from the task at hand.
  • Wear Headphones: We also recommend working with headphones on. Again, this is another way to block out distractions. If you can’t hear what’s going on in the room next to your home office, you won’t be tempted to postpone your work and engage with the commotion. Similarly, when your family and/or roommates see you in headphones, they’ll be much less likely to interrupt you unless absolutely necessary.
  • Turn Off the TV: You know what really kills remote productivity? Netflix, Hulu, Disney+… The streaming networks are so convenient and will suck you in if you’re not careful. For most people, it makes more sense to never turn the TV on during work hours, that way they’re not tempted to watch “just one more episode!”
  • Mute Your Notifications: If possible, turn off your phone and log out of your email while doing your most important work. A text or email, even if it’s job-related, is a distraction that will keep you from doing your best work. If you’re not willing to turn off your phone and log out of your email because you need to be reached in case of an emergency, try silencing your notifications so that you’re not breaking focus as often.
  • Prioritize Deep Work: Deep work is a popular phrase that was originally coined by Cal Newport in his 2016 book of the same title. According to Newport, deep work is “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” In other words, it’s the practice of setting aside time to focus on one (keyword, one) important task. By doing this, you naturally eliminate distractions.

If you follow these five quick tips, you’ll be able to quickly reduce distractions and focus on your work for longer stretches of time, guaranteed.‍

2. Keep a Standard Routine

It can be tempting when working remotely to wake up late, wear your pajamas all day, and start work whenever you feel like. You don’t have to commute to the office, so what’s the harm in a more relaxed schedule and work wardrobe? A lot actually…

Many experts encourage remote workers to keep a standard routine that’s very similar to the office schedule they’re accustomed to. Get up in the morning, take a shower, get dressed, etc.

For some folks, setting a standard routine is difficult when working from home. Without a standard time to clock-in, it’s too easy to base your day around how you feel in the moment. But this rarely leads to high levels of productivity.

Instead, follow these three tips to help you keep a standard routine:

  • Know Yourself: When are you most productive? Some people work best in the morning, others excel in the midnight hours. Neither is right or wrong, they’re just different. The key is knowing how you work best and then planning your schedule around your natural tendencies and preferences.
  • Have an Accountability Partner: Just because you work best in the morning, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be excited to get up, get ready, and start working every morning. That’s why having an accountability partner can be so effective. If you know that your colleague is expecting you to check-in at a specific time before work, you’ll be more incentivized to get yourself out of bed on time.
  • Reduce Meetings: We suggest scheduling company and team meetings for specific days only. Meetings are widely known to be incredibly unproductive for most organizations. But you can’t simply not meet. Instead, plan meetings for specific days and then give your team the autonomy to complete their work by the required deadlines.‍
  • Have Fun! It can be easy to forget to have fun, but its important to help with mental health.

3. Use Calendar Blocking

A white calendar and an orange highlighter.

Calendar blocking is the practice of blocking out time on one’s calendar to focus on specific tasks. Simple, right? Unfortunately, very few people actually do this consistently. Here are a few tips to help you properly calendar block:

  • Prioritize: There are a million things you could do every day. But some projects and tasks will be more important than others. You need to prioritize these activities and make sure you block off enough time on your calendar to accomplish them.
  • Eliminate: Look at your list of tasks and ask yourself, “What does not need to be on my calendar right now?” After you answer that question, cut any tasks (especially meetings!) that don’t fit your current schedule or aren’t one of your immediate top priorities.
  • Prepare: You want to be ready to hit the ground running as soon as you begin working. This means starting the day with preparation is unproductive. Before you clock-out, decide what you’re going to work on and when the next day. Then block out time for each one of those tasks in your calendar.
  • Review: There’s one final task you should accomplish before you shut down your computer and exit your home office: a daily review. How was your day? Did you achieve everything you planned to? Were you able to stick to your calendar? Now use these insights to plan an even better day for tomorrow.‍

4. Take Productivity Breaks

As the old saying goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” While it may seem counterintuitive, breaks throughout the day will actually increase your productivity levels. They’ll also make your day more enjoyable, which is equally as important and worth mentioning.

But breaks can be tricky when working remotely for a couple of reasons.

  1. First: It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your work that you forget to stop for a quick breather. When working in a regular office, this is less of an issue because you’re usually able to see your colleagues take occasional breaks and are reminded to do the same.
  2. Second: Some remote workers are afraid to take breaks at home because it’s so easy to become distracted while doing so. What if your significant other has the TV on in the living room and you hear it when venturing to the kitchen for a snack? Do you have the willpower not to sit down and watch with them? Not everyone does. To combat this issue, use the techniques we outlined above in the “Remove Distractions” section.

It’s crucial that you don’t just try to take breaks, but you actually schedule time for them in your calendar. That’s right, use the calendar blacking strategy for breaks too!

If you’re wondering how to take a productive break, we have a couple of ideas for you:

  • Go Outside: Enjoy the sun and listen to the birds. Sip a cup of coffee or tea while you’re out there or consider meditating if that’s your thing. Whatever you do, plan two or three times (at least) during the day that you can break from your work and reset in nature.
  • Leave Your Work Zone: What if it’s raining and you can’t go outside? Simply go to another room or area of your home. This physical split from your normal work environment will help your brain “turn off” for a few minutes and rest.
  • Play a Team Game: Get your colleagues involved in your break time and play a game with them while you all rest and rejuvenate. There are plenty of apps that will allow you and your remote teammates to play trivia, go on digital scavenger hunts, and more. To really up the ante, divvy out rewards for those who win the games!

Breaks, as crazy as it sounds, will definitely help you become more productive as you work remotely. Give them a try and see for yourself!‍

5. Manage Your Technology

Technology can be a great asset when it comes to productivity and time management. From communication tools to automation solutions, allow the various software applications available help you get more done in less time. Here are a few top options in this regard:

  • CloudApp: CloudApp combines screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, and screenshot features into one solution that makes team collaboration between remote employees quick and easy. Why send a long-winded email when you can simply record yourself explaining your thoughts or an annotated image pinpointing your exact areas of concern?
  • Calendar.com: Calendar is a popular calendar app used by industry heavyweights like Fox News, Forbes, and CNN. Your most precious asset is your time. This app helps you spend it wisely by allowing users to quickly schedule meetings and block off time for productive deep work. It also features AI and machine learning to tailor the Calendar experience to each user and detailed analytics so you can discover exactly how you’re spending your time and refocus your efforts when needed.
  • Slack: In all likelihood, your organization has been using Slack for years. Now that your entire team is working remotely, it’s an even more valuable tool. If you’re not familiar with it, users can converse with each other via text, voice, and video chat; organize conversations into specific channels; and easily search past conversations with Slack’s handy searchable history feature.
  • Zoom: Zoom has held the title of “most popular video conferencing app” for quite a while. But ever since the novel coronavirus pandemic began, usage of the tool has really exploded — with good reason. Zoom is a great way to connect with your team and host meetings. It also comes with some useful features including HD audio and video, meeting transcripts, and virtual backgrounds.
  • PandaDoc: We all create, send, and sign documents regularly. PandaDoc will help you do it much more efficiently with its suite of time-saving features that include customizable templates, a drag and drop editor, esignature capability, convenient document storage, and integrations with other top tools.
  • Google Docs: Many companies already use Google Docs to craft blog posts, proposals, and other written documents; then easily send them to each other. But if your organization doesn’t use the tool to collaborate on specific projects as well, it’s missing out. Google Docs is a quick and easy way to work with your team and get writing jobs done faster than ever before.
  • Project Management Apps: Tools like Trello, Asana, and Airtable help keep teams on the same page and focusing on the right goals. They also allow colleagues to converse about projects, send important files to each other, and more. We suggest researching each of these three apps in greater detail (if you aren’t already using one of them) and choosing the tool that best fits your team’s needs.

At least a piece of the modern workplace is remote. These tips will help you to maximize your place in the future of work.

Top Image Credit: kelly fairytale; pexels

Joe Martin

Joe Martin

VP of Marketing

Joe Martin is currently the GM and VP of Marketing at CloudApp, a visual collaboration tool. He has more than 13 years of experience of marketing in the tech industry. Prior to his role at CloudApp, Martin was the Head of Social Analytics at Adobe where he led paid social strategy and a research team providing strategic guidance to organizations within the company. He has an M.B.A. from the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, Executive education in Entrepreneurship from Stanford Graduate School of Business, a B.S. in Finance from the University of Utah and a digital marketing certificate from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has been published in the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and other top tier outlets.

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