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6 kickass tools every Slack user will love

(TECH NEWS) What’s the point of using a platform like Slack if you don’t take advantage of all the tools people made to make it way way way better?

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Create your dream toolbox

Slack, a cloud-based instant messaging and collaboration tool seemingly on steroids, has been a favorite of American Genius since its beta launch in 2013. Since then, the team messaging app has generated 3 million users, who produce impressive engagement stats and consistently give raving reviews on the app’s abilities and functionalities. These abilities like the organized channels, direct messaging abilities, file sharing, notifications, and universal search function make Slack a cool business tool straight out of the box.

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What’s cooler than cool?

Cool is cool, but coolest is cooler, which is why we are equally impressed with Slack’s add-on tools that make it one of the coolest collaborative platforms around.

Whether you are already a Slack user and want to beef up your experience or you’re just now hearing of Slack, keep reading to see all the goodies that can leverage productivity among your business team.

1. Growth Report

growth metrics
Growth Report
Business owners everywhere understand an entity can’t be much of anything if there is no growth, which is why Growth Report is such a noteworthy tool.

Weekly growth, retention, user behavior, and acquisition numbers are easily tracked and provide businesses insight to their growth or lack thereof.

The report can be accessed from an email sent from Slack, or from the Slack interface directly.

2. Talkus

talkus app
Talkus
is a fairly new widget that provides Slack operators a glimpse into how users perceive and view their website through live chat.

Visitors have an option to instant message a support member and receive updated status tickets. Through simple commands, a user can then assign visitors to a team, invite expert teammates to the discussion, and distribute a user satisfaction survey.

Full customization options, email feedback, visitor information, text formatting, and the option to embed images make converting visitors, engaging customers, and managing customer support a breeze in Slack.

3. Skylar

Skylar AI
Dubbed “Siri for Slack,” Skylar serves as an automated personal secretary that organizes and consolidates users’ information within Slack. With functions like Asynchronous communication, business integration tools, mail forwarding, Google calendar integration, custom question ability, and Dropbox Integration, who wouldn’t want a Skylar on their team?

She even has the capacity to work outside of the Slack interface for work related and non-work related to-do’s, like ordering food and sending you the bill within Slack. There are different pricing plans for Skylar, but don’t fret on cost; with the amount of time Skylar saves, you’ll make that money back in no time.

4. Hamster Pad

hamster pad
Hamster Pad
is a comprehensive list of which chats are trending at the moment, how many people are in each chat, and how many are actively online. Users can find balance between promoting their product and engaging targets to gain success through a community identified by Hamster Pad as trending.

Another one of our AG writers said this tool’s dedicated communities reminds her of subreddits, but with real-time messaging.

5. Nurtz

nurtz
Basic spell check is neat and all, but Nurtz is way neater in that it lends a human proofreader to any text within Slack. Users can actually send a message to a human without leaving the Slack platform.

When the text is ready, your proofreader will message you back an edited copy.

The first 100 words are completely free and we encourage you to check it out for yourself. If spell check is your “thing”, we guarantee Nurtz is your next best thing.

6. Birdly

birdly
If a personal assistant tool and human proofreader weren’t enough to help Slack users collab like the bosses they truly are, then Birdly might do the job. This Slack add-on offers financial assistance through the managing of expenses. Users first upload expenses from their phone, computer, or tablet (i.e. receipts and invoices).

The data is then analyzed and Birdly creates an Excel spreadsheet in real time, along with a summary that can be separately saved. In case you accidentally send in the wrong expense, a REAL HUMAN BEING will review the message and make sure data is entered correctly. Multiple currencies are also available for International handlings.

Give yourself some Slack

Slack is cool, but slack with add-on’s are cooler. We encourage you to take advantage of Slack for free, along with the aforementioned tools to improve both productivity and communication among your team

#SlackRoundup

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

Tech News

Tech industry takes big wallop as coronavirus continues to spread

(TECH NEWS) The spread of the coronavirus is rattling tech industries, as they struggle to produce or deliver their devices so the tech giants’ stock value plummets.

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coronavirus

As more cases of coronavirus, COVID-19, appear in yet more countries, people are starting to freak out about catching it. The problem doesn’t stop there, though. The corresponding punch in the gut to the tech industry will have far-reaching effects–beyond not being able to buy the latest version of your favorite device.

Besides bringing health protocols to a high alert status, the coronavirus is creating a secondary scare in the tech industry. Some companies have massive portions of their supply chain and production based in China, some in Wuhan, where the virus first began to spread. The tech industry is definitely taking a painful hit. The virus is affecting supply, production, delivery, and sales.

In turn, tech company stocks are starting to tank, at least temporarily. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft. Facebook, Google reportedly lost more than $230 billion in a day. Ouch, buddy. That’s gonna leave a mark.

The fear remains that this is only the beginning. With coronavirus having landed in at least 48 countries, the fear is not unfounded. As countries scramble to deal with containment, treatment, and educating their populace, Wall Street and other major stock markets are predicting a global economic slowdown.

As of this writing, the coronavirus is not yet an official pandemic, according to WHO. This may change. A lot is riding on getting the spread of the virus under control. Doctors and scientists frantically work on a way to treat or cure it. Meanwhile, news agencies, public health organizations such as the WHO and the CDC work to dispel rumors, replacing them with timely and practical information. The big takeaways: wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home if you’re sick.

Smartphone producers are bound to be the worst impacted, with production predicted to decline 12 percent this quarter compared to previous years, reaching a 5-year low. The Mobile World Congress cancelled their annual phone show in Barcelona due to the virus. The MWC is one of, if not the, the biggest phone show in the world.

Apple announced they will not meet their quarterly goals, due to the impact of the coronavirus, hitting the tech giant on a few levels. Factories have been closed, though some are already reopening. Apple isn’t only feeling the impact due to supply and production concerns, but also because their global sales goals include sales within China, and sales are down.

Predictions are similarly dismal for smartwatches, laptop PCs, and smart speakers. The DRAM and NAND flash markets will likely stay on top of things, as they have production largely automated.

Amazon has not yet voiced much about their own issues, but we know from the stock market that it can’t be pretty. Amazon also has an estimated half of its products coming out of China. Like the other big companies, they are poised to lose a lot and see their stock value stripped of its sheen.

Video game console manufacturing is another industry to watch. However, they seem fairly protected for now, with the bulk of their business taking place toward the end of the year. New product launches, the PS5 and Xbox Series X will launch closer to the winter holidays, which gives the science industry pros time to fight and contain the spread of COVID-19 before it causes too much chaos in the gaming industry.

We have yet to see where this will all end. COVID-19 is on the move, and it’s taking these tech giants–and our global economy–on a scary, roller coaster ride. Despite the stock market taking a nosedive and tech labor and supply streams being hard-hit, you’re still more likely to catch the flu than the coronavirus. While we watch for better news, cross your fingers and remember to wash your hands. This one’s coming in hot.

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Tech News

Five inexpensive VPNs to keep your data yours

(TECH NEWS) If you work on public internet or are just looking to beef up your internet security VPNs could be your answer. Here are five worth looking into.

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remote work vpns

We must speak, as we so often do, of l33t h4x0rz.

Let’s get blunt. We have reached the point in the evolution of technology where access to your personal data is equivalent to access to everything you own. Data security breach, which involves fewer twentysomethings with improbable hair and more Russian state actors than 90s movies led me to believe, can be the end of a business, especially a small one.

Frustratingly, the mainstream market hasn’t really produced perfect solutions for that. At present, you really have two options.

Option one, you roll with AppleFacebookGoogleSoft. Different companies, same model: hand your data to a giant organization with an affirmative interest in keeping it confidential. That can work! It can also, y’know, not. A lot.

Option two, full infogeek. Pull together All The Information and put it behind tight security you control. We’re big fans of this. On the other hand, we’re geeks. Doing this successfully requires knowledge, specialty tools and changes in behavior that may not be practical for you.

Ain’t exactly optimal, those options. So for the love of the white hat, what’s to do? Where’s the middle ground between “put it in a big sack and hand it to HugeCorpCo” and “lock every 0 and 1 in a painstakingly handcrafted box?”

Meet your friends, VPNs. Virtual private networks aren’t just the irritating things you have to sign into before another constructive day on the cube farm. For any entrepreneur or freelancer who isn’t into a rad Linux solution, VPNs are a straight-up necessity. They’re how you Internet without people keeping logs (your ISP does), tracking your activity (everybody does), or carrying off your innocent data to the dark web or the Kremlin.

Better yet? There are lots of good ones that are inexpensive, reliable, and only a Google away. Here’s 5. Unranked, because every VPN is a beautiful snowflake.

IPVanish wins at efficiency. They own 100 percent of their resources, rather than outsourcing any work to third parties. That means high speed and optimal security, since their commitment to keeping zero information on their clients can’t be undercut by nosy contractors.

NordVPN has tech wizardry going for it, with double encryption and even an optional kill switch that automatically disconnects you from the Internet if anything goes amiss with the VPN. Nord also wins at most devices per subscription, and will happily wrap up to 6 of your robots in the warm embrace of infosec.

Private Internet Access, in addition to winning the Most Straightforwardly Named Product Ever award I just made up, is great for power users, with unlimited bandwidth and a subscription allowing up to 5 devices. It’s also super simple, designed to run in the background while you go about your digital day, so for folks who aren’t looking for bundled apps or a shiny interface, this is your guy.

PureVPN gets compatibility cred, since it’s usable across Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows and even provides proxy workarounds for Chrome and Firefox. It also has a frankly enormous server network, which is good news for speed freaks.

TunnelBear, in addition to being adorable, is extremely user friendly. It’s kind of the anti-PIA, with a rich interface and lots of shiny features. Those features include neat security tricks like Intellibear, allowing users to selectively VPN into particular sites, and Vigilant Mode, which makes like Nord and blocks Internet traffic in case of outages.

Snowflake jokes aside, the list really isn’t ranked, and for reason. Your VPN will be your gateway to the Internet. What works for you is totally contingent on what you do and what you need. There are only two definitive rules.

One, never free. A free trial is fine. “Free VPN” is online shorthand for “place all your information in this bucket, which I will then steal, seal and sell to the Internet’s many, many buyers of evil buckets of data.”

Two, it’s a numbers game. There are countless choices for VPNs on the market. The entries on our list offer substantially similar services to dozens of others. What makes our 5 special?

Twelve bucks. The maximum cost of each of the 5 VPNs above is less than twelve dollars per month. Most cost less: spring for a subscription and you can get the average cost down to 2 or 3 dollars monthly. But month to month, no obligation, even the most expensive entry on the list – that’s a tie between NordVPN and PureVPN – costs you less than twelve dollars a month.

Beat that for peace of mind.

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Tech News

How to personalize your site for every visitor without learning code

(TECH NEWS) New tool from Proof lets you personalize your website for visitors without coding. Experiences utilizes your users to create the perfect view for them.

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experiences welcome page

What if you could personalize every step of the sales funnel? The team over at Proof believes this is the next best step for businesses looking to drive leads online. Their new tool, Experiences, is a marketer-friendly software that lets you personalize your website for every visitor without coding.

Using Experiences your team can create a targeted experience for the different types of visitors coming to your website. The personalization is thought to drive leads more efficiently because it offers visitors exactly the information they want. Experiences can also be used to A/B test different strategies for your website. This could be a game changer for companies that target multiple specific audiences.

Experiences is a drag-and-drop style tool, which means nearly anyone on your team can learn to use it. The UX is meant to be intuitive and simple, so you don’t need a web developer to guide you through the process. In order to build out audiences for your website, Experiences pulls data from your CRM, such as SalesForce and Hubspot, or you can utilize a Clearbit integration which pull third-party information.

Before you go rushing to purchase a new tool for your team, there are a few things to keep in mind. According to Proof, personalization is best suited for companies with at least 15,000 plus visitors per month. This volume of visitors is necessary for Experiences to gather the data it needs to make predictions. The tool is also recommended for B2B businesses since company data is public.

The Proof team is a success story of the Y Combinator demo day. They pitched their idea for a personalized web experience and quickly found themselves funded. Now, they’ve built out their software and have seen success with their initial clients. Over the past 18 months, their early-access clients, which included brands like Profitwell and Shipbob, have seen an increase in leads, proposals, and downloads.

Perhaps the best part of Proof is that they don’t just sell you a product and walk away. Their website offers helpful resources for customers called Playbooks where you can learn how to best use the tool to achieve your company’s goals be it converting leads or engaging with your audience. If this sounds like exactly the tool your team needs, you can request a demo on their website.

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