The last wave of the internet was about creating tools to manage your every day work and personal life. What will the next wave be?
Today there’s an app for absolutely everything. We have Spotify for our music, Strava for tracking our daily run and even apps like Sleepio to track our sleeping patterns. Even if you don’t realize it, you probably use at least 3 before you even get out of bed in the morning (think Whatsapp, Gmail, Instagram and various news apps).
At work, we’ve got an arsenal of tools, platforms, add ons and services to manage each individual task from payroll processing to booking meeting rooms.
Working in the digital marketing space for the past 10 years, the number of tools I use at work on a daily basis has only increased with more channels to connect with potential customers, more tools to share and communicate with my team, and more platforms to analyze the data coming from all these different touch points.
As an entrepreneur, the number of tools (and passwords I have out there) exploded.
The last wave of the internet was about creating more tools to help us better manage our personal and work lives. While they were meant to make us more agile and productive, ironically, what we’re now actually suffering from is a tech overload.
Decluttering our digital lives
If you’ve heard about Marie Kondo you’ll know what I’m talking about. The author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and now Netflix star is rummaging through stranger’s over crowded closets and overflowing garages.
But Kondo’s recent rise to fame isn’t because she found some revolutionary method to make us happier and healthier. It’s simply about cutting down on excess and using what you have (your space) more efficiently. This concept may sound simple but what her legions of followers have now realized is that simplicity really can be the key to improving our well being and productivity.
Research has shown that the presence of mess drains our cognitive resources impacting our ability to focus. Meanwhile, clearing our homes or office spaces of clutter is proven to increase our focus, ability to process information and, thereby, our productivity.
With more people swearing by the KonMari method to find balance in their home and workplace, maybe it’s also time to consider decluttering our digital lives?
The next wave is all about integration
Everyday people spend time switching between apps, platforms and databases in order to complete their daily tasks, share and analyze information.
Whether you’re a CMO gathering data from your Instagram, Paypal and Google Analytics accounts to see how your ecommerce store is performing or you’re an accounting executive aggregating expense report data to manually share with the sales team each month, you’ll know both the joys and absolute pain it is to have so many scattered data points.
Now we’re finding that it’s not just a pain, this constant switching can also slow down our cognitive processing ability and negatively impact our focus and productivity.
While we may think we’re great multitaskers, a study by MIT found that, “working on more projects in one time period at first increased productivity, as measured by revenue generation. But as the level of multitasking increased, the marginal benefits of additional multitasking declined — and, at a certain point, taking on still more tasks made workers less productive rather than more so.”
Instead of adding more tools to the mix, the next wave of the internet will be all about tying them together through integrations. Already we’re seeing this with the birth of the Internet of Things, an industry which is set to reach about $521 billion in 2021 according to Bain & Company. A study by Gartner predicts that by 2020 there’ll be 20 billion internet connected ‘things’.
Integrating, not only devices, but also tasks and data will be more important than ever. Tools like Zapier and IFTTT will dominate because the purpose of these services is not to be a stand-alone tool, but to help people do more with less by integrating all the functions of the tools they use.
If you think your closet looks bad, think about your company’s data
So many companies are now struggling to become data driven. While our struggle may have once been about collecting more data, today the reality is that we actually have more data than we know what to do with. The problem is, with so many disparate data points, and no comprehensive overview, it’s often difficult for us to analyze and gain valuable insights.
A recent survey of 2,000 employees based in the UK revealed that over a third waste significant chunks of the working day simply trying to retrieve valuable data. And businesses aren’t making it any easier for them. Only two-fifths have processes in place to capture, record and retrieve information.
This not only impacts the time it takes people to find the info they need, it also impacts their ability to recall information. About 25% admitted they had let their colleagues down by not having necessary information front of mind.
Instead of the CMO of our ecommerce store having to login to each different account, export data and compile an aggregated overview, what she really needs is a tool that can integrate all of this into one overall report.
Preventing data silos with integration focused tools
Scattered data doesn’t just hurt our ability to analyze and draw insights, it also hurts transparency across the business. In a data-driven world, different teams rely more and more on each other to share insights that could impact how they operate. The more interconnected our functions are, the more interconnected our data should be. The problem is sharing data across teams can be a pain.
That’s where integration focused tools like Zapier come in. Instead of our accounting executive manually aggregating and exporting expense data to the sales team every month, he can instead set up a zap to automatically compile and share the information directly on the sales team Slack channel.
The more integrated our tools are the more data driven our teams will become.
Better integration will improve our customer experience
AI and machine learning are not only helping businesses to automate mundane tasks, they’re also helping us to improve and personalize the customer experience. But to leverage these advances, you need integrated real time data from different sources within your organization.
For example, chatbots are significantly improving user experience across industries. Every morning I used to check my messages and then navigate to Bloomberg.com on my browser to read the news. With Bloomberg’s new Whatsapp bot I can now go to one place to check my messages and find out how my stocks are doing.
Meeting scheduling tool x.ai works as a virtual assistant by reviewing your calendar and offering potential meeting dates to a client or hire. Based on their preferences meetings are then automatically scheduled and invites sent to all participants.
Event based analytics is set to bring this further by integrating both streaming and processing data to derive patterns and send triggered responses.
It’s time to build tech based on this premise
The truth is, the more tools you use, the harder it is to manage them and actually make use of the data. The next wave of tools and services will be designed specifically to make our lives easier and more efficient. The most valuable ones will have the ability to sync with our calendars, import information directly to Slack and integrate reporting across channels. It’s time we decluttered our overpacked digital lives and found our technological happy place with the power of integration.