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Latest insights and trends in Personal Analytics, Operational Intelligence, and Workplace Productivity.

Aug 22
Modern working context, part two

On part 1, a few weeks ago, I tried to make an inventory of events which can interrupt your work for good or bad reasons. For each of them, I gave a description and I tried to estimate how many times a month they can appear. Obviously, this is a simulation and numbers depend on each of us.  I hope this part 1 was a starting point for your own thinking. If not, I really advice you to start having a look at your own context and habits. This is also important to talk about this with workmates to have a better vision of yourself.

FotoliaComp_57307354_b9herlTejXfylHBiFx8vSR48HVs7TGmv.jpg
 

Reading part 1 main inventory pushes us to ask a simple question. How much events can interrupt me? Let's have a look at this simple table now.

Month1220
Day61
Hour8

 

First conclusion is it is almost impossible to spend a single hour without being interrupted, whatever your efforts are.

Also, most of them are very little event like, receiving a notifications, which is about a second. But this little second breaks your concentration, forces you to think about something else, and pushes you to spend energy to go back to your main topic.

Most of them depend on you and your habits. Modern electronic devices do not help. Start to tidy up your working context. Give up and forget what you prevent you from being productive. 

p1.jpg 

Fortunately, OmniContext TM Personal Analytics provides some specific reports about this free time you can have, but considering simple electronic events (mails, communication, …) Indeed we have no way to know something about you and each time you put your headphones on your head. If you have bad feelings about your productivity, you can start having a look on our reports and you can make your own report. After that, try your own experiments to make things change. Use our reports again, and check progress you make, every day.

 Make your life easier, use  OmniContext TM Personal Analytics.

Aug 02
Modern working context, part one

​You know what that picture is about?

1.jpg 

Your current day. Yes. Your current working day. On the left, easy day, on the right, bad day …

Everything is planned, organized and should be running more or less easily. You are fully equipped. Hundreds of little actions have to be performed. Unfortunately, often, they have bad impacts between them. Let's start with describing a common working context by making an inventory of the common and usual equipment for a modern professional:

  • A desktop computer with password
  • A laptop with password
  • A personal cell phone with a PIN
  • A professional cell phone with a PIN
  • Head phones to listen to some peaceful music to get concentrated
  • Head phones with a microphone to make and to receive some calls
  • USB cables
  • An electronic cigarette (or an old school one) maybe?

Now let's make an inventory of the usual software set you can be using each day

  • A real-time communication tool
  • Your mailbox client
  • Your favourite streaming music provider
  • Your operating system
  • Your favourite personal mailbox opened in your favourite browser
  • WhatsApp, SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, … to be sure to be 200% connected

We all have our reasons to use each of them for good or less good reasons. Anyway, we use them. This is how it works nowadays. Modern life comes with a lot of tools, devices and habits.

Plus, sometimes, you can have some activities potentially provided by your boss because he's so cool, just as we are

  • Table football
  • Fridge with ice creams, drinks (a daily and real temptation)
  • Video games
  • TV screens

Without neglecting natural activities,

  • Receiving a visit in your office, in your company
  • Going to toilets
  • Fall asleep
  • Dream watching through the window
  • Talk about personal subjects with your work mates
  • Eat something
  • Drink something
  • Take a hot coffee

Until now, I did not mention any production activity. Work is about production right?

Now let's put some numbers by giving for each of them how many times they interrupt in a way or another in a month. It is a hard exercise but it has to be done.

 How they interrupt?How many times a month?
Desktop computer with a passwordScreen saver with password (forgotten?)5
Laptop with a password

Low battery

Screen saver with password (forgotten?)

5
Personal cell phone with a PIN

Low battery

Receive calls, notifications, texts

10
Professional cell phone with a PIN

Low battery

Receive calls, notifications, texts

Update

10
Head phones to listen to some peaceful music to get concentratedPut them on, put them off again & again50
Head phones to make and to receive some calls

Low battery

Put them on, put them off again & again

Fix Bluetooth troubles

50
USB cables
​Find one because it has become urgent right now
​10
Electronic or an old school cigarette maybe?Leave the building, come back inside50
Real-time communication tool Receive calls, sometimes unwanted calls100
Mailbox client

Receive mails, sometimes aggressive mails

Receive mails notifications, meetings as well …

600
Favourite streaming music provider

Update

Choose music

Ad interruption

60
Operating system

Update

Update password

5
Favourite personal mailbox opened in your favourite browser

Receive mails,

Receive mails notifications

100
Table footballA new temptation and fun temptation10
Fridge with ice creams, drinks, fruits, chocolateThis is addictive isn't it? J
15
Video gamesLet's empty your head playing10
TV screensWhy not having an ice cream in front of the TV screen. Don't fall asleep please J5
Receiving a visit in your office, in your companyWanted or unwanted, pleasant or not, it is necessary for sociability
40
Going to toiletsAny choice?
50
Talk about personal subjects with your work matesNecessary for team effort, this has to be kept under control15

Eat or drink something

Be careful, electronic devices 30

 

Whatever time they last, each interruption breaks concentration and makes you think about something else. At this moment, an effort is required to go back on tracks.

For now, you have a good introduction and a way to start thinking about your own context. With the next part of this blog post, we will go further and deeper talking about productivity and OmniContext Personal Analytics.​

Jul 26
Best Cloud Is Your Own Cloud

It may sound like universal wisdom that cloud is the right place to keep our data, but the explanations are not so easy to follow.

First, cloud is not cheap. Depending on the provider, you pay more than 100 dollars or Euros per year for a terabyte of storage or even less. This would buy three brand new one-terabyte disks each year, to keep three redundant copies of the same data.

Second, there is no absolute guarantee that our data will not be lost in the cloud or accessed by someone else. This does not happen often, but there are occasional incidents that lead to losses or breaches.

Third, we end up having copies of all important data on our computers anyway, so we can work offline and not depend on the high-quality network connection critical for big files. If I have a terabyte of data in the cloud, I certainly have three terabytes of the same data, duplicated to my computers and mobile devices.

So why do we still post our valuable files to cloud storage? Just because everybody somehow believes this is the right thing to do?

With all this in mind, we have created Personal Files. This software makes anyone a cloud owner and cloud provider – just for yourself. It connects your computers and smartphones into a peer-to-peer network that automatically maintains copies of the selected files and folders and securely synchronizes them over the Internet. Even more, there is a blockchain-based metadata that maintains history of all changes made to the files, so you can always be sure the integrity of the data is fully preserved.

And all this is under your full control: no provider necessary, no service to subscribe, no place beyond your own computers where your data are stored.​

The first version of Personal Files has just been released, you can register to download at personalfiles.online​. This initial release is free (for a limited time), please try and give us your feedback.

May 21
Health calculations

A scientist from London Goldsmiths University, Patrick Fagan, have investigated an influence of an artistic event, like a concert, on our life and have found that 20 minutes of such emotional boost increases our well-being and happiness by 21%. It is quite a lot, because for example, yoga session of the same duration gives just 10% life comfort increase and walk with your dog only 7% of better life. So even ancient mystic relaxation accompanied by man's best friend doesn't beat what we get from joining other enthusiasts to share art performance. It is not sure if admiration of art's beauty is the key element here, community with people of similar attitude or overwhelming rush of emotions caused by the whole event.

That is not just a short-lived effect, fading before next workday's morning, because it was confirmed many times by other investigations that feeling really good let us live longer.  Meticulous calculations were performed, assessing that going twice a month to a concert give us extra 9 years of life! Nearly a decade!

 

I remember my times of attending concerts and music festivals frequently, but thinking of them in terms of health care, made me a bit worry. I do not think that a beer every once in a while would pose some serious threat, especially that music was always first, so consciousness have to stay unaffected, but in clubs cigarettes had to take their toll, even if I was a passive smoker only.
But when it comes to really enjoying some hard rock or metal music concerts, you have to be ready for some serious threats. If you are really into such music, then a headbanging dance is a must, not mentioning stagediving and so called crowdsurfing, when you flow on people's hands - these are experiences you never forget. Most of these, however, carry some risk of injuries and makes your brain get bruised in a skull, like you were boxing, so doctors all agree it doesn't make your life longer.
Then a noise comes and it is not limited to metal genre. Electronic music can be even louder but today almost every kind of music can be made into something you feel really deep in your bowels. It does not only cut your life shorter slice by slice, but causes hypertension that makes living the rest of it harder.
At that moment I start to wonder if some music fans would really make it, if not thanks to the lifesaving benefits of many, many events...  

Even choosing other kinds of music, more peaceful and quiet, will not surely guarantee your life length's success, as most of such events happen at evenings and staying up late, even close to dawn in case of music festivals, deprive us of sleep which is a necessary component of healthy life. On the other hand there is also a danger of choosing it too quiet and boring, resulting in falling asleep – quite a healthy thing – but losing all this tremendous effect of the artistic event.

Of course not everybody wants to live longer. Some say that it's better to have interesting life than a lengthy one. Also not all of us want to fill it entirely with music. But feeling that our days are somehow numbered high above or in our internal clock, provokes us to fight that, adding a year this way and a month other way, beating what's written for us to show we are the ones in control.

But in this case you could count this time differently, momentarily, as the measure calculates quite simple: every single concert (at least if it happens reasonably often), comes with a bonus of one full day that doesn't count to your life's expected length. It's a free day that you choose by yourself and if you enjoy the event, you can have all this day to yourself. It's yours, no matter what will happen later. Time stops, just because you have decided for something unusual and stops especially for you, from midnight to midnight. It's like a fairy tale that music plays for you.​

In the meantime scientists will discover all kinds of new gains and losses for you, Personal Analytics™ will count them and show you in predictions and totals. You will have a look at them and make them work for you. Next day. Because you have a free day. Really, fully free day out of the rest of your life.

Mar 19
How Technology Kills Productivity

The IT productivity paradox apparently does not show any signs of going away. Some of the scientists who originally coined the term have just come up with more research. This new research is now linked to AI and shows that the deceleration of productivity growth has become even worse that it was twenty-five years ago when the discussion started. The average annual productivity growth in the US was at 2,8 % in 1995 – 2004 and it dropped to just 1,3 % in 2005 – 2016.

Interestingly, most of the presented explanations are still very much the same as they were in 1993 when the same author published his first famous paper on this subject.

The core of the paradox twenty-five years ago was “mismeasurement”, which meant that the productivity actually grows but we somehow do not see it. All right, we are now in 2018, so you would think twenty-five years were enough to figure out how to measure that invisible growth? Apparently the numbers are even worse now than then, so there is no invisible growth.  At that time, twenty-five years back, the second possible explanation was seen in “implementation lags”. Now, as the “mismeasurement” theory does not hold anymore, this implementation lag becomes “the biggest contributor to the paradox”.

But this also does not stand. Twenty-five years should have been enough to start seeing at least minimal growth even given all the lags, and the only trend we see is continuing deceleration.

So, I would have a much simpler explanation for the paradox. If productivity keeps decelerating during the twenty-five years of IT implementation across all trades, shall we conclude that it is this exact factor, information technology, that causes of the deceleration?

Here are two specific examples why and how this happens.

Let us look at AI and its flagship application, which is customer service through chatbots. There is analysis​ of cost per call going down from $35 - $50 on the phone to $8 - $10 in a web chat. Looks good in the first place, but note a very revealing phrase in the same paragraph about the increased handle time of the web chat. This is not just the agent’s time; this is also customer’s time. As it increases, the customer loses more time with the service and cannot dedicate this time to own business. Among the customers of Hypersoft, we have seen organizations where employees spend on average 15 or even 30 minutes in electronic interactions with automated service and support applications. This is as much as six percent of working time lost. In fact, some vendors of chatbot software even consult their customers​ how to increase the average session length! The balance is obvious: whatever is saved on the call center agent, is lost by the customer having to spend their expensive time dealing with the bots and automated response systems.

Another example is the incredible easiness of pulling people into virtual meetings with the modern conferencing software. I know one customer where the average count of meeting participants went from 3 – 5 to 12 – 14 after they made a virtual conferencing system available to all their employees. How does it help that those 14 persons did not incur travel expenses, and is it possible to believe that an average meeting in a large company needs 14 participants? I guess the answer is obvious here.

There are many more similar situations, which we encounter daily with our Productivity Analytics. This is not proof of digital technology being always counterproductive by its nature. However, this is proof that the technology does generate substantial loss of time by keeping people busy with it, instead of doing their work. And it is not just training people how to use it right, it is the very nature of many modern productivity tools to replace work by “work-related communication”.

We plan to continue this research. There is a lot of discussion going on at business about “technology adoption”, which is somehow presumed to always be a good thing. But we need to identify all those cases when implementation of digital technology results in an increase of the total time that all involved persons need to produce the same output. We can do this quite well already with Omnicontext, and we are improving these capabilities every day. Stay tuned, there will be more insight coming from Hypersoft on this topic.

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