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Our Ability to Work Remotely Has Keeps Growing, So Why Hasn't Productivity?

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There’s a myth among business leaders that mobile technology will cause productivity to skyrocket. It’s the big driver behind the trend of today’s mobile workplaces. More than half of enterprises believe mobile apps will boost productivity by 40 percent or more. Eight in 10 global workers say mobile technology makes them more productive. It’s no surprise then that more than 90 percent of organizations have a mobile work strategy in place or plan on implementing one.

So now that nine in 10 corporate employees are using at least one mobile app at work, productivity should be soaring, right? Not exactly.

U.S. labor productivity increased just 0.3 percent a year between 2011 and 2016, and it hasn’t grown more than 2 percent in any given year since the tech boom. Mobile is on its way to becoming ubiquitous, yet many enterprises are still struggling to see the productivity gains they were promised. So, what’s the problem?

Related: 8 Ways to Work Smarter and Improve Productivity

“For all the enthusiasm surrounding this new model for efficiency, our fast leap to mobile has come at an ironic cost — it has produced a new kind of productivity gap,” says entrepreneur and mobile expert Javier Soltero. “The productivity gap is the chasm between all the information we can access on our phones, and the limits on using that information in an effective way.”

Mobility by itself doesn’t improve productivity. What it does is create infinite opportunities for employees to work more productively. But it’s up to enterprises to leverage the technology to actually help people get more work done — whatever that looks like for each organization.

The challenge: Mobility focuses too heavily on technology.

The massive move toward mobile is a major transition for enterprises, but many organizations don’t go far enough. They try to fit mobile into their existing way of doing things. They implement the technology without considering the context and changing the culture (and workflows) around it.

The end result: Devices and apps that throw more work at employees without actually helping them complete it.

Part of the problem is that enterprises are still stuck in a desktop computer mindset, expecting mobile work to look and feel the same as it does in the office. But “the mobile interface and the optimal way to use it have very little in common with the desktop interface and its uses,” Soltero says. “The faster we accept this reality, the more quickly we can begin to evolve a new understanding of how to use our mobile working hours more efficiently and effectively.”

Mobile devices and apps are just one part — albeit an important one — of the overall shift that needs to happen. To close the productivity gap, enterprises must focus on all aspects of work, not just mobile, and start removing the obstacles getting in the way. And that demands a cross-disciplinary, omnichannel approach led by someone with a clear vision for what a productive digital workplace should look like.

The ultimate goal, says the Harvard Business Review, is an organization “in which all knowledge workers have full context, tools, and support to focus their time on the biggest value drivers of the business without being bogged down by overhead and bureaucracy.”

More than 80 percent of digitally mature companies get there by employing an actionable digital strategy that draws upon numerous technology solutions — one of which is mobile — to solve the challenges that are getting in their employees’ way.

Related: 6 Ways to Make Your Business More Efficient

The reality: Productivity is being held back by legacy processes and practices.

Think about the last time you got an email on your mobile device requesting a document. Chances are, you weren’t able to easily send it from your device. Or consider the last time someone texted you about a meeting. How many clicks and scrolls did it take to check your availability?

Even after making the transition to mobile, many enterprises are continuing to grapple with the same barriers to productivity they had before, such as:

  • Inaccessible data. Two in five enterprises say their data’s too siloed to be accessible, let alone useful.

  • Information overload. Seventy-four percent of employees struggle with the amount of data they have access to and would prefer access to only the data that is personalized to them.

  • Clunky software interfaces. More than 40 percent of employees say it takes too long to accomplish basic work tasks.

  • Complex workflows. Sixty-two percent of employees delay completing tasks that require the use of multiple systems.

  • Poor communication. More than 85 percent of employees and execs say ineffective communication is a top reason for workplace failures.

  • Work overload. Employees who don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to get all their work done suffer an 68 percent productivity loss.

  • Stress. Nearly 60 percent of stressed-out employees report feeling less productive and disengaged.

On its own, mobility doesn’t solve any of these problems — and it may even exacerbate some. A mobile device may allow employees to receive texts and emails and access certain systems wherever they are, but reading texts and emails and completing complex workflows on a mobile device doesn’t equal productivity. Unless people have a seamless way to access their business systems and get real work done in the systems they are already using, it’s just extending the workday and contributing to feelings of stress and work overload.

And this is the disconnect between what mobility can do and what enterprises are asking it to do. To truly improve productivity, employees need a new and better way to get work done wherever they are. They need relevant information sent to them before they are forced to log into hard-to-use systems; they need complex workflows to be broken down into simple tasks that can be completed in just a few clicks; they need information that matters to them to be accessible based on their context (role, location, etc.) in real time; and they need this all to be available to them where they are, regardless if that is on their devices, their intranet, or in the other applications they are using.

Related: Harness Technology to Become a Mobile Mogul

To harness productivity as a differentiator for an organization, business leaders need to start rethinking how information can be distributed and tasks can be completed in a manner that will make employees more effective. Questions to start with: Where are the biggest pain points hampering employee effectiveness? How could employees solve these challenges by working differently? How can their mobile devices, as well as their laptops and desktops, and the applications they use help make that happen?

Answer those questions and focus on building a culture that empowers your employees to make a difference. Do that, and the productivity gains will follow.

A daily source of inspiration and information, Entrepreneur.com fuels the spectrum of game-changers that define what it means to be an entrepreneur today. That includes business leaders who launched something from nothing, content creators in the social influencer space, athletes pushing the boundaries of performance, and internal thought leaders innovating inside major corporations. Entrepreneur.com offers strategic insights and how-to guidance for the people that make things happen.

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Unilever Turns Up the Heat on Facebook & Google Over Tech’s ‘Unintended Consequences’

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Unilever has issued a stern warning to digital platforms including Facebook, Google, and YouTube: do more to improve transparency and clean up the “swamp” of fake news, exploitative, and socially divisive content, or be cut off from its multi-billion dollar digital advertising budget.

CMO Keith Weed recently spoke at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership meeting held in Palm Desert, Calif. CNBC quotes him as saying, “We need to redefine what is responsible business in the digital age because for all of the good the tech companies are doing, there’s some unintended consequences that now need addressing.”

Two of the most important consequences being referred to include the threatening of safety of users, especially young children, and loss of trust by consumers and companies at large.

While it’s unlikely that Unilever will turn its back on the two largest digital platforms, Weed’s words matter because of the sheer amount of ad budget Unilever holds across its portfolio brands. MediaPost reports that in 2017, the company spent approximately $9.8 billion on marketing and advertising, a quarter of which went to digital.

Beyond the public denouncements, Unilever is also working with IBM to develop a blockchain with which the company can more effectively reduce ad fraud via a record of what media is purchased and how it is delivered.

A separate MediaPost article shares YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s response to Weeds comments on Monday. In her own statement at Recode’s Code Media conference, she assured,
“We want to do the right set of things to build [Unilever’s] trust. They are building brands on YouTube, and we want to be sure that our brand is the right place to build their brand.”

Recent efforts we’ve seen in support of this include significant updates to its Creator Program policy. Further, in light of the recent Logan Paul controversy involving a video in which a suicide victim was filmed inside a Japanese forest, the company has suspended running ads on his channel, per Ad Age.

While brand safety is a concern on the minds of many marketers, Unilever’s public comments this week indicate that brands are viewing the issue with a much broader lens, and seriously questioning the role these platforms play in people’s everyday lives, beyond the world of advertising. In this important cultural moment, people are looking to brands and platforms to assume responsibility and be proactive to keep their spaces safe, trustworthy, and suitable for communities.

To further explore the overarching question of how technology, including digital platform giants, can be used to bring us closer together versus further apart, join us at SMWNYC April 24-27. Register today and save 20%.

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Facebook’s Next Step in Building Community: $10M in Grants

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Facebook has made several important announcements as of late the support its mission to create more “meaningful communities.” The latest? Investment in a newly announced Community Leadership program designed to support its community-building leaders through a variety of residency and fellowship opportunities that offer training, support, and funding.

Here’s how it will work: Facebook will name five “community leaders in residence” and provide up to $1 million each to fund their proposals, in addition to providing them with the opportunity to attend a customized leadership development training session.

Moreover, Facebook will select 100 individuals to join its fellowship program and receive up to $50,000 each for a “specific community initiative.” They’ll also participate in four in-person gatherings during which they will have the chance to meet and collaborate with other fellows.

Another key initiative in the works? Expanding Facebook’s “engineering team for community safety,” which is headquartered in London. In particular, the company hopes to double the number of employees focused on such efforts including detecting and stopping fake accounts, protecting people from harm (e.g harassment and scams), and making it easier to report content, by the end of 2018.

Further, Facebook outlined new tools for group admins, including page personalization options (e.g. color and the ability to pin announcements to the top of the page), the ability to create and share group rules; and more features to monitor Group Insights.

Outside of its Communities Summit, but along the theme of ensuring time on the platform is time well spent, the company also confirmed last week it was testing a downvote button that would allow users to provide feedback on comments in particular. The downvote button is being tested within a limited group of U.S. users for the time being.

This is not to be confused with a “dislike” button, but rather a more “lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading”—this according to a Facebook spokesperson quoted in TechCrunch.

Here is what the button looks like in action:

Image via TechCrunch.

As the screenshot depicts, the user will have the ability to select whether the post was found to be “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic,” the choices aimed to help guide Facebook’s course of action with respect to the particular piece of feedback.

Forbes adds that, the downvote option in its test mode only applies to public posts as opposed to Group posts or the Pages of public figures. It also doesn’t affect the ranking of the post and the number of downvotes a post gets won’t be publicly shared.

These initiatives by Facebook to reverse some of the negative perceptions of its role in society come at a critical time as brands and citizens alike are putting more and more pressure on the world’s leading tech platforms to course-correct their products for the safety of their users. Just this week, Unilever threatened to yank ad dollars from Facebook and Google due to the company’s growing dissatisfaction with their overall impact on society.

“We cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” stated Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, to the BBC.

Learn about Facebook’s increasingly complex role in society by joining SMWNYC April 24-27. The conference will offer multiple sessions designed to explore where brands and platforms fit into tech’s future in our world. Register today to secure your pass.

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5 Ways Cryptocurrency Can Help Entrepreneurs in 2018

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Cryptocurrency has revolutionized the way we transact value, invest our savings and raise capital with its decentralised digital cash system. Blockchain technology is a once-in-a-lifetime invention; never before in history have we been presented with such a breakthrough in financial technology. In 2018, entrepreneurs are well positioned to become early adopters of blockchain technology.

1. Raising capital

Cryptocurrency has disrupted the way early stage companies raise capital. With initial coin offerings, startups around the world can raise money quickly and cheaply from a wide pool of global investors. The valuation of a company is almost immediately reflected by the market, a process that has traditionally been challenging for early stage businesses. Shares are issued as tokens and tradable almost immediately, bringing large amounts of liquidity to the company.

Related: IPOs Are Boring But You Must Keep an Eye on These 9 Initial Coin Offerings

This new approach to raising capital has changed the world and enabled the best technical talent to build their companies at high speed. In 2014, a teenager from Canada called Vitalik Buterin raised money for his startup, Ethereum, through an initial coin offering. He wanted to improve on Bitcoin’s blockchain and create a platform for people to build unstoppable applications. With just a whitepaper and a vision, he was able to successfully raise $18 million for his new blockchain, which was valued at over $100 billion as of January 2018.

2. Transacting value

Cryptocurrency enables us to transact value between peers without a centralized authority. It provides a cheaper, faster and more efficient alternative to traditional payment networks. As a company, accepting cryptocurrency payments is becoming increasingly efficient, saving on fees and bringing faster settlement. Soon, startups will no longer need to go through the long process of setting up a business bank account to receive and distribute funds. In 2014, Overstock.com became the first retailer to accept bitcoin, receiving over 800 orders worth $126,000 in bitcoin in the first 22 hours. It has since amassed a $403,000 portfolio of cryptocurrency.

Related: 5 Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs Serious About Cryptocurrency

3. Investing for the future

For entrepreneurs, cryptocurrency may be the investment opportunity of a lifetime. Never before in history have retail investors had investment access to high growth early stage companies. Traditionally, venture capital funds and private angel investors have held monopolies on access to investment in the world’s best technical talent. Cryptocurrency provides a gateway for anyone in the world to invest in the world’s most exciting technology, allowing retail investors to own a basket of high growth companies. For example, through the decentralized method of blockchain investment, teenager Erik Finnman was able to invest in Bitcoin in 2011, becoming a Bitcoin millionaire at age 18. These types of investment stories would not be possible with traditional private venture capital fundraising.

Related: Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Anymore

4. Developing on the blockchain

The blockchain offers powerful infrastructure for companies to run their technology and create entirely new business models in a trusted way without a centralized authority. Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the way startups create value. The Ethereum platform allows companies to build unstoppable blockchain applications quickly and for free. One example of a company leveraging the Ethereum blockchain is OmiseGO, a payments company that is using blockchain to provide banking services for the world’s 2 billion unbanked population. Blockchain technology is a cost-efficient way of building decentralized applications that can scale to a global population.

Related: 6 Cryptocurrencies You Should Know About (and None of Them Are Bitcoin)

5. Joining the blockchain community

The blockchain community offers access to some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, who are actively investing, advising and building upon the blockchain. Telegram, Facebook, WeChat, Slack and WhatsApp groups have proved popular in building communities of decentralized blockchain investors who can communicate with each other on a daily basis. Many large investments in early stage technology companies can be coordinated within minutes, a process that would traditionally take months in traditional venture capital. For example, in 2017, Brave’s Basic Attention Token sale sold out of its $35 million offering within 30 seconds. The blockchain community offers a strong sense of purpose with all members committed to a common goal of advancing blockchain technology to global adoption.

Related: How Digital Wallets and Mobile Payments Are Evolving and What It Means for You

Cryptocurrency provides a platform for entrepreneurs to raise capital quickly, cheaply and efficiently. Entrepreneurs can transact value through the blockchain at high speed with limited setup costs and invest in high growth technology companies at an early stage. Platforms like Ethereum allow entrepreneurs to build decentralized applications to a global audience for free. The blockchain community offers access to some of the top entrepreneurs, engineers and investors in the world and in 2018, cryptocurrency will continue to provide a viable means for entrepreneurs to create value in the world.

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7 Ways to Get Recruiters and Job Offers to Come to You

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“You are your own brand, and you need to build that brand and promote it as much as possible. It is important that you start building your brand online, because this is where employers are going to be looking for potential employees,” suggests Dima Midon, an expert from TrafficBox. Use all of the online tools at your disposal, particularly LinkedIn, which is a professional network that allows you to really promote yourself as a professional, and someone who is an expert in your field. This is a great tool for job seekers. Make sure that you keep your profile up to date, especially when it comes to contact information, so when an employer searches you, they will be able to contact you if they are interested in learning more.

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