When Technology Empowers Experiences

Each year we strive to find a way to improve our lives and experience something new and exciting. With the new year comes new goals. So many of these goals are experiential or behavioral, not involving the acquisition of goods. Losing weight gives us better health and more self confidence, kicking a habit lifts our spirit, improving our relationships helps us feel connected, learning a new skill empowers us. The non-material, intangible resolution list is endless and powerfully compelling.

These desires for a better human experience can not be denied. Companies who strive to provide the most value to their clients must take experience into account. Studies have shown our connection to physical goods has decreased. Since 1987 the share of consumer spending on live experiences and events relative to total U.S. consumer spending increased 70%. According to a Harris Study, 3 out of 4 millennials would rather spend money on an experience or an event than on a desirable consumer good, myself included!

gs1puttungoffpurch

 

As far as spending habits toward material goods, I can find plenty of reasons why the philosophy that less is more rings true-

-less goods to move equals more money saved on moving and/or storage costs.

-less goods equals more clutter free spaces.

-less goods equals more money to invest in our dreams

-less to have insured and keep track of means more peace of mind.

 

The boom in high performance devices and applications has played perfectly into the experience over goods philosophy. Our devices are smaller than ever which means less to store and we can interchange devices every few years. The new iphone 7 can replace the iphone 6. The Macbook 2017 can replace the Macbook 2013. When it comes to applications, they take up no physical space except the negligible space in the hardware or cloud.

 

With experience now playing a pivotal role in our society, applications have found their perfect space and role to assist us in meaningful ways toward the creation of experiences, but it goes one step further than that. Our new year’s resolutions, and our most ambitious goals, are a reflection of our dreams and the type of people that we dream to become. If an application can help us become the person we dream to become it is a valuable asset in overall life satisfaction and personal development.

 

The examples are numerous- if you dream of having a better business and an app helps you deliver on your objectives, products and services quicker and easier it becomes invaluable. If you want to lose weight, and an app helps motivate you and keep track of your fitness goals, it gives you the energy to continue. In the fields of technology and application development, it is our dream, our purpose and our reality to create applications that have this sort of effect. We continually strive to create a better me, a better you, a better we. So we can all go where no man has gone before.

 

Advertisements

Should you Participate in the Sharing Economy?

share

As a young teen, my first experience with the sharing economy was through a popular file sharing network that suddenly bursted into existence called Napster. Through the network we could all share our songs and albums and have access to a massive worldwide music collection. It offered benefits that were absolutely game changing: downloading individual songs instead of buying complete albums, access to music from the comfort of your home and obtaining music at a fraction of the cost (the cost of learning how to use the program). Little did I know at the time but Napster changed the way music is bought, sold and consumed, forcing the industry as a whole to adapt.

What is the Sharing Economy?

In the article What Is The Sharing Economy at the people who share blog, a concrete definition of the sharing economy is attributed to the following: “The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.”

In the article The Sharing Economy by Fast Company, the sharing economy is broken into three categories: “first, product-service systems that facilitate the sharing or renting of a product (i.e., car sharing); second, redistribution markets, which enable the re-ownership of a product (i.e., Craigslist); and third, collaborative lifestyles in which assets and skills can be shared (i.e., coworking spaces).”

When we think of the term “sharing” a monetary exchange does not usually come to mind. However, the majority of services that use this model, monetize their offerings. In the sharing economy, consumers are paying for “access” instead of “ownership”. The sharing economy is perfect for those that desire limited usage of a good or service or that don’t mind sharing their own goods or services with others.

Should you become a consumer in the sharing economy?

The major advantage to becoming a consumer in the sharing economy is the cost effectiveness. Shared goods and services are offered at a lower cost than traditional options. For example, the ride sharing services Uber and Lyft offer significantly lower fares than taxis.

In the hotel and accomodation sector, services like airbnb and couchsurfing allow travelers to obtain accomodation in the homes of strangers who participate as hosts. This is a beneficial arrangement for travelers as they reduce their costs of accomodation. Also, this arrangement is beneficial for the added experience factor. When travelers share a home with a host, they have the opportunity to form a new friendship and learn more about the city or country they are in from the hosts perspective.

The drawbacks to the sharing economy for the consumer are simple. The issue of trustworthiness is a real concern. The only way to see if the person providing the good or service is trustworthy is consumer reviews and verification systems that are based solely online. Just because some users experiences were good at a particular time and place does not  necessarily mean that your experience will be the same. Also, many of these services like Uber and Lyft are unlicensed which means there is a lack of consumer-protection regulations imposed apon such businesses.

Should you become a worker in the sharing economy?

Becoming a worker in the sharing economy is ideal for those looking for the perks that come with these jobs such as a flexible work schedule, social interaction, networking opportunities and supplemental income. The drawbacks of the sharing economy for workers include: lack of benefits like health insurance or pension plans, unfair wages and personal tax accountability.

While there are drawbacks. Many have seen that the willingness to be strategic is a key to success. For example, car-sharing services can present certain drawbacks to providers like the cost of gas, the wear and tear on their vehicle and the taxes that drivers must take out of their pay. To counteract these disadvantages, it is important to devise certain strategies. One of which is to drive as much as possible during peak hours in order to increase the pay per hour. Also, if you keep track of your gas and other car expenses, you can write those expenses off on your taxes. It is also important to take advantage of carsharing as a unique networking opportunity. While giving someone a ride, you also have the opportunity to talk to them about your business or area of expertise.

The sharing and ownership economies are here for the long run. With a clear understanding of their advantages and disadvantages we can mitigate the negative costs associated with both systems and choose the option that is best for any given scenario.

 

 

 

Managing Distractions for Technology Dependent Professionals

Technology is exciting, it brings speed and efficiency to our interactions with the world. With the wide range of applications available to us, we have tools to complete important tasks that once were much more challenging. However, this technology is so engaging with its applications, notifications and messaging capabilities, that it can easily serve as a distraction when focus is critical. The same technologies that help us, can at times hurt our productivity at work.

Technology and productivity

When employers were polled in a recent Career Builder survey, three-quarters expressed that two or more hours a day are lost in productivity due to distractions such as texting, the internet, social media and email. Many employers have policies that prohibit the use of cell phones during work hours and block access to particularly distracting websites that may cause productivity loss. The problem of distraction is particularly challenging for IT professionals that use the internet for troubleshooting and reference tasks and use smartphones to test their applications and websites.

employee-distractions

A contributor to this growing problem is the pervasive belief that multi-tasking itself does not contribute to productivity loss. This multitasking myth was addressed by Dave Crenshaw in a course offered by Lynda.com. In one of the video modules, a timed written exercise is conducted. During the first half of the exercise, two distinct statements are written one at a time. In the second half of the exercise, two statements are then written at the same time by multitasking. At the end of the exercise, it is revealed that the tasks are done slower when done via multitasking. In another video module the instructor then demonstrates that multitasking itself causes each task to take longer.

Managing distractions

To address this problem there are several solutions:

  1. Schedule “play breaks”: This is time specifically set aside for checking social media, email and text messages apart from working hours. Having a specific time to handle these concerns takes away the immediate need for them to be addressed in the moment.
  2. Take note of message ideas: Many message oriented distractions can be handled by quickly jotting down any ideas that come to mind for emails, tweets, text messages etc. These ideas can later be acted upon during the scheduled “play breaks”.
  3. Mindful awareness: In order to avoid these distractions entirely it may be helpful to remain mindful of their root causes. For example, one may feel as though they need a distraction to counteract a particularly frustrating or mundane task faced in the workplace. It is important to remain mindful of this and engage in positive reinforcement concerning the execution of work related tasks. If these sort of tasks have been handled in the past then surely they can be addressed in the present without the use of a distraction.

distract

If all else fails then there are several applications that work well to control productivity and limit distractions. One such example comes from the leading online platform Upwork which has a software system in place to track freelancers as they complete projects. This app records information such as mouse movements, keyboard activity and random screenshots every 10 minutes. This information is then available for the client to review. There are also applications such as Cold Turkey and Self Control App that block websites for the period of time that the user specifies. This can be great to block access to particularly distracting websites that are frequently visited by the user.

When it comes to technology, it is true that with great power, comes great responsibility. With the right techniques and a little self-discipline, anyone can use technology to its full advantage at work without falling prey to the distractions that hinder productivity.