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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

do all these tools really make us more efficient

Lately I've become very aware of the various tools we use in this day and age of digital work - especially for those working remotely, most of our work is done on the career "metaverse" (I love using this word now). Our communication with real life human beings (or resources as I call them) are severely limited and most of our face to face interaction is with a screen that's displaying a pretty version of 1's and 0's. Many say that the differentiation between humans and animals are our ability to build and use tools (disproven by Sagan, but we'll let it pass for the purposes of this argument) - this is certainly the case in today's work environment. For my current job and side projects on a daily basis, I am actively using

  • all of Google's work solutions (inclusive but not limited to Gmail, Google Drive, Google Data Studio, Calendar, Hangout)

  • Zoom, our best friend

  • Slack - the notification sound gives me an anxiety attack, especially when it's multiple in a row

  • Salesforce - which frankly isn't the best but has a monopoly on CRM and owns the messenger listed above

  • A SQL visualizer / studio for all the queries I don't know how to write

  • Jupyter notebook for all the complicated data parsing I also don't know how to write

  • Discord for the more hip version of slack used with the actual metaverse community

  • Retool for easy access to information for the less-technology advanced folks (that I'm trying my hardest not to be)

  • Wix to write what you're reading

  • VSCode, Git, and Github for my self learning of code

  • Notion to stay organized

  • Countless others I'm forgetting because it's just become a numb routine for me at this point

I truly think there's value in each of the platforms mentioned above and a specific purpose each one serves, of course with some level of overlap across a handful of them. I don't think there will be a consolidator of sorts any time soon as the strengths that the individual applications have outweigh the potential synergy that may come from, let's say, a video chatting platform that allows you to code and edit videos while Tweeting all the same time. I'm not proposing that there needs to be on mega solution that captures all of this - not that this is not feasible, but just impractical and unprofitable given what we already have.

I do think there's an argument to be made that all of these platforms are SaaS companies at the end of the day (I'm overly generalizing and using the word freely here so please don't attack me coverage bankers) need you to continue to use their product. Hinge boasts (not that Hinge is a workplace solution) that their mission is to get you to delete their app - if this rang true for all its users, the company will fail. I think it's no different for the solutions above - they need you to continue to depend on their product offering and unable to work without it for their business model to be successful. In most cases this incentivizes them to enhance efficiency and make the product good - but this is only true if competitors exist (or "cool" competitors, at least). Sure there's Microsoft Teams and Google Hangout, but outside of those that work at those respective places, I don't know anyone that doesn't use "Zoom" interchangeably with "let's meet via video chat." It's hard to imagine a CRM that's not Salesforce and a code repository not named Github. I'm not trying to declare some "capitalism isn't working" political controversy here - there's endless benefits to having giant companies with unlimited resources and human capital with the brightest minds working on great product offerings. I do think that it's human nature to stop innovating without proper incentives, and if there's no competitive pressure for workplace solutions, then there's ultimately no immediate reason (yes there's shareholder expectations but there's plenty of ways to increase stock value without making the service offering better and companies will always buy into these products since there's no other option) to make our lives easier.

Nothing's strikingly wrong with anything that I'm using at the moment nor am I saying that I have some brilliant way to fix the way that Salesforce runs reports or the way that Wix works on promotions - I want to believe that the people behind these companies are working their hardest (most of the time) to make great products and enhance their services. I'm sure if we went back 50 years to corporate america of the 1970's and asked them if they want a way to work from home, track all their customers without pen and paper and be able to shoot instant messages instead of hopping on calls, they'll be overjoyed to have what we have. It's innate human nature to be constantly disappointed and want more - this is something I'm very aware of. However, I do think that it's naive to say that work is as efficient as it can be or we're living "in the future" when it comes to workforce solutions - I encounter technology related frustrations daily stemming from the imperfection of these products, much of which are things that if I can think of, millions of others in the workforce have also thought so. I hope that companies offering such products don't get lazy due to their market position and continue to innovate for the end consumer, which is not the companies they sell to but the employees that make use of them.

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