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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

4 ways startups prove their investment in upcoming technology trends

(TECH NEWS) Want to see into the future? Just take a look at what technology the tech field is exploring and investing in today — that’s the stuff that will make up the world of tomorrow.

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Woman testing VR technology

Big companies scout like for small ones that have proven ideas and prototypes, rather than take the initial risk on themselves. So startups have to stay ahead of technology by their very nature, in order to be stand-out candidates when selling their ideas to investors.

Innovation Leader, in partnership with KPMG LLP, recently conducted a study that sheds light onto the bleeding edge of tech: The technologies that the biggest companies are most interested in building right now.

The study asked its respondents to group 16 technologies into four categorical buckets, which Innovation Leader CEO Scott Kirsner refers to as “commitment level.”

The highest commitment level, “in-market or accelerating investment,” basically means that technology is already mainstream. For optimum tech-clairvoyance, keep your eyes on the technologies which land in the middle of the ranking.

“Investing or piloting” represents the second-highest commitment level – that means they have offerings that are approaching market-readiness.

The standout in this category is Advanced Analytics. That’s a pretty vague title, but it generally refers to the automated interpretation and prediction on data sets, and has overlap with Machine learning.

Wearables, on the other hand, are self explanatory. From smart watches to location trackers for children, these devices often pick up on input from the body, such heart rate.

The “Internet of Things” is finding new and improved ways to embed sensor and network capabilities into objects within the home, the workplace, and the world at large. (Hopefully that doesn’t mean anyone’s out there trying to reinvent Juicero, though.)

Collaboration tools and cloud computing also land on this list. That’s no shock, given the continuous pandemic.

The next tier is “learning and exploring”— that represents lower commitment, but a high level of curiosity. These technologies will take a longer time to become common, but only because they have an abundance of unexplored potential.

Blockchain was the highest ranked under this category. Not surprising, considering it’s the OG of making people go “wait, what?”

Augmented & virtual reality has been hyped up particularly hard recently and is in high demand (again, due to the pandemic forcing us to seek new ways to interact without human contact.)

And notably, AI & machine learning appears on rankings for both second and third commitment levels, indicating it’s possibly in transition between these categories.

The lowest level is “not exploring or investing,” which represents little to no interest.

Quantum computing is the standout selection for this category of technology. But there’s reason to believe that it, too, is just waiting for the right breakthroughs to happen.

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Tech News

Internet of Things and deep learning: How your devices are getting smarter

(TECH NEWS) The latest neural network from Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows a great bound forward for deep learning and the “Internet of Things.”

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Woman using smart phone to control other devices in home, connected to deep learning networks

The deep learning that modifies your social media and gives you Google search results is coming to your thermostat.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a deep learning system of neural networks that can be used in the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Named MCUNet, the system designs small neural networks that allow for previously unseen speed and accuracy for deep learning on IoT devices. Benefits of the system include energy savings and improved data security for devices.

Created in the early 1980s, the IoT is essentially a large group of everyday household objects that have become increasingly connected through the internet. They include smart fridges, wearable heart monitors, thermostats, and other “smart” devices. These gadgets run on microcontrollers, or computer chips with no processing system, that have very little processing power and memory. This has traditionally made it hard for deep learning to occur on IoT devices.

“How do we deploy neural nets directly on these tiny devices? It’s a new research area that’s getting very hot,” said Song Han, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at MIT who is a part of the project, “Companies like Google and ARM are all working in this direction.”

In order to achieve deep learning for IoT connected machines, Han’s group designed two specific components. The first is TinyEngine, an inference engine that directs resource management similar to an operating system would. The other is Tiny NAS, a neural architecture search algorithm. For those not well-versed in such technical terms, think of these things like a mini Windows 10 and machine learning for that smart fridge you own.

The results of these new components are promising. According to Han, MCUNet could become the new industry standard, stating that “It has huge potential.” He envisions the system has one that could help smartwatches not just monitor heartbeat and blood pressure but help analyze and explain to users what that means. It could also lead to making IoT devices far more secure than they are currently.

“A key advantage is preserving privacy,” says Han. “You don’t need to transmit the data to the cloud.”

It will still be a while until we see smart devices with deep learning capabilities, but it is all but inevitable at this point—the future we’ve all heard about is definitely on the horizon.

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Tech News

Google is giving back some privacy control? (You read that right)

(TECH NEWS) In a bizarre twist, Google is giving you the option to opt out of data collection – for real this time.

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Open laptop on desk, open to map privacy options

It’s strange to hear “Google” and “privacy” in the same sentence without “concerns” following along, yet here we are. In a twist that’s definitely not related to various controversies involving the tech company, Google is giving back some control over data sharing—even if it isn’t much.

Starting soon, you will be able to opt out of Google’s data-reliant “smart” features (Smart Compose and Smart Reply) across the G-Suite of pertinent products: Gmail, Chat, and Meet. Opting out would, in this case, prevent Google from using your data to formulate responses based on your previous activity; it would also turn off the “smart” features.

One might observe that users have had the option to turn off “smart” features before, but doing so didn’t disable Google’s data collection—just the features themselves. For Google to include the option to opt out of data collection completely is relatively unprecedented—and perhaps exactly what people have been clamoring for on the heels of recent lawsuits against the tech giant.

In addition to being able to close off “smart” features, Google will also allow you to opt out of data collection for things like the Google Assistant, Google Maps, and other Google-related services that lean into your Gmail Inbox, Meet, and Chat activity. Since Google knowing what your favorite restaurant is or when to recommend tickets to you can be unnerving, this is a welcome change of pace.

Keep in mind that opting out of data collection for “smart” features will automatically disable other “smart” options from Google, including those Assistant reminders and customized Maps. At the time of this writing, Google has made it clear that you can’t opt out of one and keep the other—while you can go back and toggle on data collection again, you won’t be able to use these features without Google analyzing your Meet, Chat, and Gmail contents and behavior.

It will be interesting to see what the short-term ramifications of this decision are. If Google stops collecting data for a small period of time at your request and then you turn back on the “smart” features that use said data, will the predictive text and suggestions suffer? Only time will tell. For now, keep an eye out for this updated privacy option—it should be rolling out in the next few weeks.

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