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5 game-changing tech innovations — and 3 you might be happier without

Technology has affected our lives in major ways, giving us mind-blowing gadgets and awesome software we can’t remember how we lived without. Of course, as with all innovations, there are some drawbacks. We also cope with glitches and use devices that make our lives more stressful and complicated.

Figuring out the right balance when using tech can be a challenge, especially when it comes to business and marketing techniques. If you want to strategically leverage technology while cutting out digital clutter, here are some things that help, and a few that might hinder … and a couple that could go either way.

Good tech we can’t live without

Technology is deeply ingrained in our personal and professional lives. These are some of the techniques and gadgets that seem to increase productivity and make life less complicated.

1. Automated processes

Once upon a time, businesses had to operate with paper ledgers, sign-in attendance sheets, and typewriters. But most of those office staples disappeared years ago, and things have only gotten more efficient since then. 

Now, with a wide variety of software products available to automate both simple and complicated processes, we can accomplish tasks in a fraction of the time it once took, and with far fewer errors. (Just think about how long it takes to tally a column of numbers in a spreadsheet today, compared to using a calculator a decade or so ago.) 

And the data! Today we can pinpoint exactly the data we need — even those data points we never thought to look for when we’re physically scanning for them. This capability brings with it new, powerful knowledge we can use in our decision making.

2. Cloud computing

Cloud computing is another game-changer, thanks to its amazing accessibility and scalability. This tech enables us to work from anywhere at any time in a secure fashion. With today’s emphasis on flexibility and working remotely, this feature is fantastic for employers and employees alike. It also ensures that data is never lost, since it is all stored on servers that are backed up regularly.

3. GPS

Even if you have a terrible sense of direction, thanks to GPS and satellites, you’ll never be lost. No more digging around for the paper map shoved under the passenger seat or trying to find one at a convenience store when you’re lost. Thanks to Google Maps, Waze, and other navigation apps, you can figure out where you need to go (and even know the traffic levels you’ll encounter while traveling).

4. Video

One significant and progressive technology we enjoy today is video. It can be used for online instruction, even for topics that require specialized training, like CPR or first-aid techniques. You can even pursue a college degree — both undergrad and graduate-level — completely online. 

Another important way this tool can be leveraged is for video marketing. Recent statistics suggest that 84% of consumers today have bought a product or service after watching a brand video. That signals a significant sway that video can exert on the market!

5. Online banking

There was a time when you had to balance your checkbook every month after receiving a paper bank statement in the mail. But online banking has completely transformed your ability, as a customer, to manage and track your money. 

No more trips to the bank or having to wait for “bankers’ hours” to access your money — most tasks can be managed right from your phone or laptop. You can even monitor and bolster your credit score online to make sure your credit is where it should be and immediately correct any mistakes or mishaps on your record.

Bad tech we could live without

As much as technology has enhanced our lives, some of it just adds digital clutter, contributes to unhealthy habits, or interferes with our ability to learn basic real-world tasks we should know how to do.

1. Quick videos

Snapchat, TikTok, and other quick-hitting, short-form apps are entertaining, but do they really offer any practical or long-term benefit? For the most part, they are time-wasters that distract us and shorten our attention spans. 

Instead of cluttering your phone with short-burst apps, consider tucking your phone — along with some good books — inside a handy tote bag so you can actually read (on paper pages!) during your spare time. Your brain will thank you for it.

2. Processed food, fast food, and microwaves

Processed and fast foods have added convenience to our lives, but at what cost? They also add high salt and high fat levels, and little nutritional value. Combine this with the sedentary “activity” encouraged by technology, and it becomes a literal killer, thanks to our less-active lives. 

Instead of reaching for that box of prepped food to pop in the microwave or pulling through your local drive-through, take the time to make a home-cooked meal. It’s healthier and cheaper. You don’t even need a cookbook — you can find recipes online or watch DIY videos to make your favorite foods. (That’s a way to combine technology and food for a positive outcome!)

3. Tech features on cars

Sensors can be lifesavers, but let’s face it: We can do without many of the bells and whistles built into newer cars. Every computer screen added to a dashboard — and each new way to connect your phone to your car — only adds to the number of distractions. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 lives were lost in 2017 due to distracted driving. And that figure doesn’t include near-deaths or injuries. We don’t need all these capabilities that are built into cars. Plus, they add to the sticker price. Is this money well-spent?

Ever-present tech that’s … complicated

Stacked up against the good and the bad, there are a couple of tech innovations we have a love-hate relationship with: our smartphones and social media. These two inventions are among the best and worst things to happen to our society.  Both give us amazing ways to connect, yet they also somehow achieve the opposite. 

Think about the last time you tried to talk to someone whose face was buried in their phone screen. Frustrating, right? Our obsession with our phones and the curated non-reality of social media end up displacing important aspects of human life such as personal communication and physical connection. They offer a poor substitute for deeper relationships and meaningful conversations.

For better or worse, technology is a game-changer. The possibilities are endless, and they require careful navigation. If you can successfully strike the right balance, you can have the best of both worlds! Just be sure to put down the phone from time to time, and you’ll be all right.

By Jessica Larson,