Last month, Microsoft launched their new tool, “Productivity Score”. According to Microsoft, this new tool will help organizations understand how well they are functioning, how technology affects their productivity, and how they can get the most out of their Microsoft 365 purchase.
But to do all of this, the tool will keep track of how each employee is using Microsoft products. For instance, the tool will monitor how often video or screen sharing is enabled during meetings by employees.
It will keep a metric of how employees are communicating. It will show if employees are sending out emails through Outlook, sending out messages through Teams, or posting on Yammer. It will also keep track of which Microsoft tools are being used more and on which platforms.
So, Microsoft’s new tool is a scary work surveillance tool, right? According to Microsoft, it isn’t. In a blog post, Microsoft 365’s corporate Vice President Jared Spataro said, “Productivity Score is not a work monitoring tool. Productivity Score is about discovering new ways of working, providing your people with great collaboration, and technology experiences.”
Spataro says the tool “focuses on actionable insights” so people and teams can use Office 365 tools to be more productive, collaborative, and help make work improvements. And, while this all sounds good, privacy advocates aren’t too thrilled about this.
Microsoft says it is “committed to privacy as a fundamental element of Productivity Score.” To maintain privacy and trust, the tool does aggregate user data over a 28-day period. And, there are controls to anonymize user information, or completely remove it. However, by default individual-level monitoring is always on, and only admins can make any of these changes. Employees can’t do anything about securing their privacy.
So, user data privacy is still a large issue on the table, but privacy advocates can breathe a sigh of relief. Yesterday, they got a response from Microsoft they can smile about. In another blog post, Spataro responded to the controversy. “No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365,” he said.
Although Productivity Score will still aggregate data over a 28-day period, it will not do so from an individual employee level. It will do it from an organizational one as a whole. Also, the company is making it clearer that the tool is a “measure of organizational adoption of technology—and not individual user behavior.”
This tool is your ‘hack’ to a simultaneous live stream across platforms
(TECH NEWS) Ever wondered how companies host a live stream simultaneously across multiple social media platforms? Restream is your trick to doing the same.
Distributing live content on various platforms helps build your brand presence and grow your audience. But, how do you get that broadcast to live stream to several platforms simultaneously? And, how are other content creators doing it?
Well, the answer to both of these questions is — Restream Studio.
With this tool, you can stream live video to over 30 platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn, all at once.
You can also be the host of your own show and invite guests to join your live streams. And, even increase your brand awareness by slapping your logo on your live video.
So, how does Restream work?
First, you register on the website and connect your platform accounts. When you’re ready to stream, add two or more social media channels to your Restream Dashboard. Then, press start on your stream. You can stream using your webcam from a browser or your choice of streaming software, such as OBS Studio, SLOBS, Elgato, XSplit.
Now, ta-da! Your single stream is available on multiple platforms.
Restream removes the hassle of switching between platforms to read and reply to messages. Comments from different platforms are available on a single screen, and you can differentiate between each one by the social icon logo attached to each message.
Also, you can display a chat feed on your live stream by using the Chat Overlay feature. This chat box is displayed on top of your video and makes for a much more engaging stream because everyone can take part in the conversation. And, if you want to give your chat box a little more edge, you can customize its look by using one of Restream’s 20+ ready-to-use templates.
Oh, and you don’t have to worry about any potty mouths! Offensive words can be masked out and nasty messages can be hidden from view.
Analyze Stream Performance
You don’t know how well your content is performing unless you analyze it. To measure your success, Restream places all your multiple platform insights on a single interactive dashboard.
The tool takes a look at these six metrics: streams, average duration, streamed time, chat messages, average viewers, and max viewers. In the dashboard, you can see an overview for each metric, but you can click on each one to see further detailed information.
To Restream or not to Restream?
Live streaming has come a long way since the radio broadcasts of the 1990s, and expensive and clunky equipment isn’t your only option now. There are easier and more cost-effective solutions to live stream across multiple platforms like Restream Studio.
So, if you’d like to give Restream a try, you can sign up for a 1-month free trial to get access to all their features. After your trial is over, you can still use Restream for free. The company offers a free plan that gives you access to stream to 30+ platforms using 1 channel per social platform.
If you want to continue using all the features you can upgrade your plan by purchasing a monthly or yearly subscription. With a paid plan, you’ll have access to features that give you the ability to add extra social channels, let you record streams, and remove Restream branding.
Chatbots: Are they still useful, or ready to be retired?
(TECH NEWS) Chatbots have proven themselves to be equally problematic as they are helpful – is it time to let them go the way of the floppy disk?
All chatbots must die. I’d like to say it was fun while it lasted, but was it really?
I understand the appeal, truly. It’s a well established 21st century business mantra for all the side hustlers and serial entrepreneurs out there: “Automation is the key to scaling.” If we can save time, labor, and therefore money by automating systems, that means we have more time to build our brands and sell our goods and services.
Automation makes sense in many ways, but not all automation tools were created equal. While many tools for automation are extremely effective and useful, chatbots have been problematic from the start. Tools for email marketing, social media, internal team communication, and project management are a few examples of automation that have helped many a startup or other small business kick things into high gear quickly, so that they can spend time wooing clients and raising capital. They definitely have their place in the world of business.
However promising or intriguing chatbots seemed when they were shiny and new, they have lost their luster. If we have seen any life lesson in 2020, it is that humans are uniquely adept at finding ways to make a mess of things.
The artificial intelligence of most chatbots has to be loaded, over time, into the system, by humans. We try to come up with every possible customer-business interaction to respond to with the aim of being helpful. However, language is dynamic, interactive, with near infinite combinations, not to mention dialects, misspellings, and slang.
It would take an unrealistic amount of time to be able to program a chatbot to compute, much less reply to, all possible interactions. If you don’t believe me, consider your voice-activated phone bot or autocorrect spelling. It doesn’t take a whole lot to run those trains off the rails, at least temporarily. There will always be someone trying to confuse the bots, to get a terse, funny, or nonsensical answer, too.
Chatbots can work well when you are asking straightforward questions about a single topic. Even then, they can fall short. A report by AI Multiple showed that some chatbots were manipulated into expressing agreement with racist, violent, or unpatriotic (to China, where they were created) ideas. Others, like CNN and WSJ, had problems helping people unsubscribe from their messages.
Funny, shocking, or simply unhelpful answers abound in the world of chatbot fails. People are bound to make it messy, either accidentally or on purpose.
In general, it feels like the time has come to put chatbots out to pasture. Here are some helpful questions from azumbrunnen.me to help you decide when it’s worth keeping yours.
- Is the case simple enough to work on chatbot? Chatbots are good with direct and short statements and requests, generally. However, considering that Comcast’s research shows at least 1,700 ways to say “I want to pay my bill,” according to Netomi, the definition of “simple enough” is not so simple.
- Is your Natural Language Processor capable and sophisticated enough? Pre-scripted chatbots are often the ones to fail more quickly than chatbots built with an NLP. It will take a solid NLP to deal with the intricacies of conversational human language.
- Are your users in chat based environments? If so, then it could be useful, as you are meeting your customers where they are. Otherwise, if chatbots pop up whenever someone visits your website or Facebook page, it can really stress them out or turn them off.
I personally treat most chatbots like moles in a digital whack-a-mole game. The race is on to close every popup as quickly as possible, including chatbots. I understand that from time to time, in certain, clearly defined and specific scenarios, having a chatbot field the first few questions can help direct the customer to the correct person to resolve their problems or direct them to FAQs.
They are difficult to program within the expansiveness of the human mind and human language, though, and a lot of people find them terribly annoying. It’s time to move on.
Get all your digital organization in one place with Routine
(TECH NEWS) Routine makes note-taking and task-creating a lot easier by merging all your common processes into one productivity tool.
Your inbox can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Without organization, important emails with tasks, notes, and meetings can become a trash pile pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that aim to help you improve your efficiency, and the latest to add to that list is Routine.
Routine is a productivity app that combines your tasks, notes, and calendar into one easy-to-use app so you can increase your performance. Instead of having to switch between different apps to jot down important information, create to-do lists, and glance at your calendar, Routine marries them all into one cool productivity tool. By simply using a keyboard shortcut, you can do all these things.
If you receive an email that contains an actionable item, you can convert that email into a task you can view later. Tasks are all saved in your inbox, and you can even schedule a task for a specific day. So, if Obi-Wan wants to have Jedi lessons on Thursday, you can schedule your Force task for that day. Likewise, chat messages that need follow-up can also be converted into tasks and be scheduled.
To enrich your tasks, notes can be attached to them. In your notes, you can also embed checkboxes, which are tasks of their own. And if you have tasks that aren’t coming from your inbox, you can import them from other services, such as Gmail, Notion, and Trello.
To make sure you can stay focused on the events and tasks at hand, Routine makes it easy to take everything in. By using the tool’s keyboard-controlled console, you can access your dashboard to quickly see what tasks need to be addressed, what’s on your calendar, and even join an upcoming Zoom session and take notes about the meeting.
Routine is available for macOS, iOS, web, and Google accounts only. Overall, the app centralizes notes and tasks by letting you create and view everything in one place, which helps make sure you stay on top of things. Currently, Routine is still in beta, but you can get on a waitlist to test the product out for yourself.
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