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It’s no secret that technology has changed the world. Twenty years ago the technological landscape was completely different, and solutions to everyday problems were traditionally done manually. Today we will introduce you to a term that shows how progress has increased the quality of life and highlight the consequences.
Democratization of technology is the process of tech rapidly becoming more accessible to people. It also involves evening the playing field by lowering the cost of platforms. Information can now be accessed with the click of a button from anywhere around the world.
Here are the top examples of democratization currently changing the technological landscape today to make it easier to understand.
Major Examples of Technology Democratization
Robinhood is a web-based application that promotes commission-free stock trading and investing. What was once an expensive and confusing industry, Robinhood has democratized the stock market to make it easier for everyone to trade and invest in the stock market. It also helped revolutionize cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Dogecoin. While Robinhood has contributed to huge profits made by savvy investors, many people have lost money due to a lack of knowledge in how to invest.
For years, Skype held the monopoly on web-based video conferencing. They were the only ones on the market, but when the pandemic hit other companies started to gain popularity. Zoom, Teams, and GoogleMeet all became readily available with free options for the public.
Online video conferencing allowed employees to work from home during a global pandemic when work could have halted altogether. It also lets families from other states be together and children to attend school. It democratized the ability to be together when you can’t physically be in the same place.
While social media is something you are most likely already familiar with, its use in key political and civil movements is new. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow users to discuss elections and viewpoints in an open environment. The technology dramatically impacted the 2016 and 2020 election cycle results and helped ignite important social justice movements.
This is one example of the democratization of technology that grew faster than regulations could keep up with. Hate speech and false information dominated these platforms, and owners had to step in.
The COVID-19 pandemic revolutionized telehealth or video-based healthcare. It allowed for people to see health care professionals without having to leave home. This freed up hospitals and allowed non-critical patients to easily access help and receive prescriptions.
Democratization for Entrepreneurs
As a new entrepreneur, it’s important to take advantage of all available resources. Business coaching, financial advice, and marketing services can help your business succeed. These resources can also be expensive, and as a startup, you might be pressed for cash.
Thanks to democratization, these resources can be easily found online and, in most cases, for free. Looking for an easy way to stay on top of your finances? QuickBooks and TurboTax are applications that make it easy for you to do this independently.
Need a new website to launch your product? Open source platforms like WordPress and Wix allow users to create websites for free that looks clean and professional. Need advice on how to start your business? Talk to a business coach online or take a course.
The Downside of Technology Democratization
While the advancement of accessible technology is overall great, it does come with a few downsides. Because the internet allows everyone to have a platform and to speak freely, you could create a movement that has bad effects. It is very easy to trust the people you follow on social media. However, you need to have discernment in the information you believe, especially before you take any action.
For entrepreneurs, valuable business information and freelancers are readily available, but you need to make sure that you are making the right decisions for your business. You could get connected to someone who claims to be an expert in the marketing or financial world, but they might not give you the best advice. Do the research and ask for examples of work or references before agreeing to work with anyone.
The Future of Technology Democratization
Do you have a new and innovative idea that could further change the technological landscape? Companies like RobinHood and Zoom were started because the creators saw a problem and believed they could offer a solution. The problem you experience in your daily life could be fixed thanks to a digital solution!
Interested in learning more or talking about your idea with our team? Contact us today to get started!
As a first time entrepreneur (or long-time entrepreneur looking for new ways to grow) your time is incredibly valuable. So, if there was a way for you to increase productivity and conduct needed research, surely you would jump on that opportunity!
Let us introduce you to Google task-specific email addressing. This free feature gives you the ability to receive emails at an unlimited number of email addresses – all in your single Gmail or GSuite account. If you add a “plus” sign after your email name, followed by anything, it will still get delivered to your inbox.
For entrepreneurs looking for a way to vet their platform, this tool is very helpful. Not only does it let you test multiple user types, but also lets you target specific audiences.
While this tool is currently only available through the Gmail and GSuite, it’s in the works for Office 365/Outlook. Adding your vote in this forum may help encourage Microsoft to add the feature sooner.
What are task-specific email addresses and how do they work?
For all of our examples, our email address will be [email protected].
If you wanted to let your company’s prospective clients contact you and make sure that you don’t accidentally disregard their email, you could give them: email@example.com. You could then create a filter so that all “+questions” emails are directed to a specific folder.
5 GSuite Gmail Tips to Test Digital Products and Save Time
- Creating an Email Filter
Before you even begin to use task-specific addressing, you will want to create specific folders for your emails to be delivered to. Emails filtered to specific folders will help your company stay organized. Your inbox will stay clean and can even break each folder up into specific clients so that you won’t get confused about projects you are working on as your company grows.
Follow the next set of instructions to learn how to create specific email filters in your Gmail account.
- Log into your Gmail account.
- Click the gear icon, “See All Settings,” and then “Filters.”
- Click “Create a New Filter” and enter the modified email address in the “To” field.
- Click “Create Filter.”
- Check the appropriate action (Delete It, Forward It, Label It, etc.) and then click “Create Filter.”
- Your filter is now active!
The possibilities for task-specific addressing are endless, but there are a few ways you can maximize the feature to help your company grow!
2. Product Testing
Most new products require a signup process to begin using and can have multiple user types.
For example, works with a company whose product helps municipalities manage major outsourced repairs on their city vehicles (fire engines, police cars, etc). The product allows for drivers to submit an accident report or needed repairs and a local body shop then has the ability to submit a bid for the job. For this particular product, multiple user types were needed and they all required different email addresses to use the app.
- Body shop
- Fleet manager
- Fleet foreman
- Risk manager
Before the app was launched, the client needed the ability to test each specific user type. Creating new email addresses for each user type would be an added, time-consuming task. With task-specific addressing, they were able to simplify the process and seamlessly perform a product test.
3. Block Spam
How often are we asked to give our email address when we visit a website or even when we check out at a physical store. These emails constantly come to our inbox and can take extra time to unsubscribe from. For many businesses, a one time content upgrade or needed tool for your website normally requires an email address before they will let you download, but you might not want to continue to receive their emails in your primary inbox. With the Google tool, you can easily filter unwanted emails to a specific folder or even immediately delete.
When asked for your email, enter something similar to “firstname.lastname@example.org” Create a new filter and you’re all set! Now your inbox will be free of unnecessary emails, but you will still have the opportunity to access them when needed.
4. Receive Urgent Emails
For new entrepreneurs, it is important to quickly resolve any issues your product may have that a client or team member brings to your attention. With task-specific addressing, you can filter emails to an “urgent” folder simply by adding +urgent to the end and creating the appropriate folder. You can even adjust the filter to always mark the emails sent to it as important. Advise clients and team members to only use the email address when it is truly an urgent situation so that you can tackle their issues immediately
5. Track Email Origins
One thing about email addresses is that they can easily be sold without your knowledge. As a new company, if you notice your inbox is constantly filling up with spam from places you haven’t visited, chances are your email address has been sold.
Where are companies getting your email address from? Chances are you have signed up for a content upgrade, newsletter, or even purchased a product from a company that has decided to sell your email. Each of these deliverables requires you to submit an email and then that company gets to decide what to do with it: use it for their personal use or sell it.
If you want to track exactly who is selling your email, task-specific addressing is a great way to do that. For each new signup simply use your name + a number. For example, if you are purchasing an item online and need to provide an email, enter email@example.com. When you receive emails sent to that address in your inbox, from another company, you will know your email address has been sold. While you can’t exactly ask for your email back, it is good to know which companies are protecting your personal information.
Note: It is important to remember that the order does matter in task-specific addressing. The + sign must always come after your email name. If you flip the order, promotions+[email protected], the email will not be sent to your account and could go to the owner of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Google task-specific addressing has many benefits, even more than we have listed in this article! It is a great tool for your business or for your personal use. Check it out and share this tool with your team members and friends – they will thank you for it!
Established tech companies understand that the best products and features are often virtually invisible to the customer, and this is especially true with payment integrations. When you’re dealing with people’s money, you want to be as reliable and discreet as a Swiss banker. But customers also expect transparency and feedback, and a well-integrated payment gateway delivers both in the form of a seamless and reliable payment process. Building payment features into your platform demands that you see them not as mere utilities but as bona fide opportunities for customer experience.
With that end in mind, this post will walk you through four keys for integrating payment gateways into your platform in such a way that it builds customer trust while also streamlining your payment processing infrastructure. Achieving this means choosing payment platforms that are well-suited to your business, minimizing your per-transaction expenses without sacrificing stability and reliability, taking advantage of value-added services available from many payment platforms, and engineering your internal systems and processes to cover potential gaps between the payment feature and your existing platform.
4 Critical Steps for Integrating Pay Features into Your Platform
1. Identify the types of payments best suited to your platform and business objectives.
Not every payment integration will be a good fit for your platform. Especially with mobile payment platforms, you’ll need to sort through a long list of options to find the tool that does exactly what you need. For example, Apple Pay and Apple’s in-app purchases are both potentially powerful tools for streamlining payments and retaining customers, but they process payments much differently, with distinct fee structures and rules for use, and they can’t each be used for every type of product or transaction. International payments are another potential difference-maker because some tools don’t support them (and some businesses don’t need them).
While an “all-of-the-above” approach may seem like a customer-friendly choice, too many payment integrations will mean significantly more administrative and operational complexity. Remember that bugs love needlessly complex systems, and one more redundant payment integration is one more opportunity for a missed payment or double charge.
2. Minimize expenses per transaction (but not at the expense of reliability).
Here again, your best option depends on the nature of your business. At first blush, it may not seem to make a difference whether you charge customers through credit cards, ACH (bank transfers), or both. But these methods charge you differently and process payments in distinct ways that could have big implications for your profits or overhead. ACH will typically charge you a flat fee per transaction instead of a percentage of the charge like a credit card transaction, so ACH is typically preferable for high-dollar transactions. But credit cards can offer immediate payment authorization, whereas ACH payments take several days to fully process. That processing delay may or may not be important to you—if you bill in arrears, for example, you have already built your business model to accommodate it. Ticketmaster, by contrast, is a good example of a business with a clear preference for credit cards (they don’t accept ACH), since they need to able to verify payments immediately or risk outrage from the buyers and sellers in their marketplace who are exchanging goods with very short shelf-lives.
ACH vs. credit cards is just one example of the cost considerations you must make when integrating payment tools. If your business relies on a high volume of microtransactions, neither credits cards (high fee) nor ACH (delayed authorization) is a viable option. Even in-app purchases charge you commissions that can take a big bite out of revenue. Digital wallets can defray some of the costs for frequent small transactions by requiring a minimum contribution to the wallet and deducting purchases from a balance that has already been hit with a credit card fee.
3. Consider value-added services that really do add value.
Payment platforms have been stepping up their game in the realm of security and fraud prevention in particular. We don’t need to be reminded of the long list of companies, including more than one digital security firm, who have lost money and goodwill to data breaches. Even so, not every payment platform that claims to offer payment security has equally robust security. If you can offer your customers CAPTCHA and 2-step verification as part of a smooth, unified payment experience, you may be willing to pay a bit more per transaction to a payment gateway with a proven security track record.
Some payment platforms can also offer strong analytics and reporting capability. Others enable you to process transactions through a variety of merchant accounts, optimizing for lower fees, reduced risk, or increased leverage. Of course, every feature adds a layer of complexity, and some services don’t scale well for smaller businesses. As with everything else in your business, you must judge the value you get from these services against the investment required to extract that value.
4. Build your own infrastructure to maximize uptime.
As good as these payment gateways can be, they will never simply run themselves. An all-too-common mistake is trying to integrate payment tools without adequate internal staff to support them. Remember that sensible architecture assumes failure. As a cultural value, you should think of every fix that requires the Ops Team as a bug. Especially when you’re dealing with payments, resolving discrepancies after the customer reports them is not enough to restore their trust.
Consider a common failure for credit card transactions: the customer pays with their card, and their payment goes through to the processor, but for any number of reasons that may have nothing to do with you, they find themselves at an error screen. Assuming the transaction failed, they pay again. Up to this point, there may be nothing your team could have done to prevent the double payment. If you are relying on customers to see the double charge on their monthly statement three weeks later and call you about it, you may not regain their confidence even if you are able to refund the second charge while you still have them on the phone. But if, instead, you have designed a reporting system to periodically query the payment processor and identify payment errors mere minutes after they happen, you have created an opportunity to gain customer trust by fixing the error before they know it has occurred.
Like every aspect of your business, integrating online payments is an opportunity to improve the experience you provide to your customers. Payment gateways aren’t just utilities to facilitate your sales, they are a critical part of the sale itself. Especially in a digital marketplace where consumers are spoiled for choice, a clumsy or unreliable payment experience is more than enough to drive them into the arms of your competitors. You must be sensitive to costs, of course, but you must also be willing and able to tailor your payment integration to the specific needs of your business by choosing the right types of payments to accept, minimizing per-transaction expenses, taking advantage of additional services that provide good value, and in some cases investing in your own payment processing infrastructure.