Ask These Questions When Choosing a Cloud Contact Center Vendor By Nichole Wong

For many companies, contact centers are a vital part of business operations. They’re where problems get solved and customer relationships are saved. But the way customers prefer to communicate has evolved much faster than legacy call centers have, which can be frustrating for businesses using older contact center software.

Maybe you’re familiar with the following problems. You want to integrate a channel like Facebook Messenger, but you can’t get it to work with your system. You want customers to be able to reach you via SMS text, but you can’t add SMS onto your existing platform. You might even be struggling to update your phone menu. All these things slow down your contact center, and that’s going to lead to frustration for both your employees and your customers.

The classic contact center model, also known as the legacy model, was built before the age of the cloud and continuous improvement. These contact centers are highly customizable, but only via costly professional services or a small subset of developers who are trained on the platform. This infrastructure simply wasn’t designed to keep up with disruptive changes in consumer behavior, which is why so many businesses are migrating to the cloud today. DMG Consulting predicts that the number of seats in cloud-based contact center infrastructure will grow by 23 percent in 2019 and 2020.

For businesses that are handling complex contact centers, upgrading to a cloud-based option makes it easier to keep up with customers’ changing needs and preferences. But before diving in, it’s important to know how to choose the best cloud-based vendor for your business.

5 Questions to Ask When Considering a Cloud Contact Center

The following questions will help you gauge whether or not a cloud-based contact center vendor would be a good partner for your business.

1. Does the provider offer reliable service?

Consider for a moment that a customer needed immediate assistance but was unable to contact your company’s help center by any means. Uncontrolled downtime can really hurt a company’s image. You’ll want to assess whether the provider offers service at all hours and how it intends to deliver that service robustly and in a way that minimizes service interruptions. Look at the businesses the provider is working with — finding a recognized cloud contact center provider that’s already working with leading companies worldwide will help you choose a superior cloud communications platform.

One keyword to look for here is “proactive carrier rerouting,” which means the provider has multiple paths to connect with customers should something go wrong. You should also inquire as to whether the vendor has a global carrier network or a single-provider network. Hint: Global carriers are more reliable.

2. Is the provider truly omnichannel?

New channels become available every year, and each of those channels has different capabilities and best practices. Staying up-to-date on all of these communication channels and maintaining the integrations to support them can feel like a learning curve that never ends. Instead, choose a contact center platform that gives you access to multiple channels through a single API with all of the integrations built in. And look for one with a demonstrated history of adding new channels as they become relevant.

An omnichannel platform handles communications across multiple channels — from voice to video to SMS to social media and even to old standards like email and chat. And ideally, your platform will transfer the context between communication channels. This won’t work with just any contact center platform, though — legacy and siloed systems can’t handle hand-offs like that. That’s why it’s critical to choose a contact center platform designed for true omnichannel communications.

Customers love the flexibility of meeting brands directly on the channels they prefer. For example, they might start their customer journey on a website but soon find themselves in a friendly SMS chat with a customer service rep or interacting with a live agent via a two-way video chat. In fact, research from Aberdeen found a 91 percent increase in customer retention when omnichannel options were offered compared to when they weren’t.

3. Is the provider secure?

With the advent of GDPR’s enforcement in the European Union, security and regulatory concerns have never been more top-of-mind for company leaders. Lean into that awareness by looking for vendors that adhere to major privacy protocols — not only GDPR, but also ISO 27001 and SOC2. Your cloud-based contact center will handle a lot of your customers’ data, so it’s important to be certain that data is treated with care.

While you’re inquiring about these protocols, also ask how the prospective vendor stays up-to-date on compliance practices. Answers might include third-party audits, pen testing, or even bug bounty programs. All of these efforts reveal a level of transparency and show a commitment to crafting and honing software that upholds customers’ rights to privacy and control of their data. Some vendors will even bake these privacy measures right into their APIs.

4. What is the provider doing about fraud?

Telecom fraud continues to be one of the leading drains on revenue in the industry. In fact, the Communications Fraud Control Association found that telecom fraud cost companies almost $30 billion across the globe in 2017, so it’s imperative that any partner you use for your cloud contact center has some level of fraud prevention in place.

Be sure to ask about not only the vendor’s fraud prevention strategy, but also how it monitors its systems for fraud and how it responds when fraud is detected. Savvy vendors know that staying on the cutting edge of fraud prevention — like using AI systems for real-time threat analysis — is critical for staying competitive.

5. Will updates be a headache?

Staying up-to-date with your software is critical, but so is minimizing disruption or system downtime. Make sure your vendor has a way of rolling out features without those updates compromising your operations. Good documentation is also crucial for any planned changes, so be certain that prospective vendors commit to excellence in documentation practices when they do product maintenance.

When discussing updates, be as specific as possible. Ask about expected downtimes, which are usually expressed in terms of uptime SLA, or the percentage of time the systems are online and running. You’ll want to have an uptime SLA of at least 99.95 percent.

Likewise, when you make changes to your contact center, you’ll want a platform that doesn’t constrain your abilities. A contact center platform should be programmable, which allows you to develop, customize, and manage your customer-centric applications.

The call centers of yesteryear are evolving into omnichannel communication centers that can create lasting customer satisfaction and even brand advocacy. Moving your contact center to the cloud empowers you to build the exact solution that works for your business to communicate with and service your customers. The right cloud contact center lets you constantly iterate and improve as your business needs change — without having to build back-end infrastructure and interfaces.

While cloud-based contact centers offer a more flexible, adaptive customer engagement strategy, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting before committing. These five questions will guide you to finding the right partner for your needs.

To learn more about using a customizable contact center platform to move at the pace of your customers, watch this video.

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How Blockchain Can Fight Fraud Based on Know-Your-Customer Data By Jared McClure

As the cost of retail fraud grows year-over-year, merchants are constantly looking for ways to tackle security challenges and reduce their liability burden. Blockchain technology, with the ability to create secure digital wallets, offers intriguing potential solutions.

Know-your-customer regulations were designed as a due diligence to prevent financial institutions and individuals alike from fraudulent transactions. Though the focus is heightened security, the comprehensive data being captured and stored has been an easy target for criminals. The annual cost of fraud increased for the third year in a row, hitting $16.8 billion in 2017, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research.

In essence, because KYC encourages the collection and aggregation of personal information, it has left consumers vulnerable to identity theft. And as you may know, when stolen identities are used to make retail purchases, merchants are stuck eating the costs.

Next-Generation KYC

In simplest terms, the flaw in today’s data management is that information is collected and stored to begin with. This problem is only exacerbated by the fact that consumers are often required to share well beyond what’s needed. It’s like when you go to a bar and show your driver’s license to prove that you’re over twenty-one. On your license is your name, address, and license number. Does the bartender really need that information? All he really needs is certification that you’re over twenty-one.

The rest of it is now personal data that the bar can store and share however it wants. In short, you can’t ever be in control of your own information because you’ve handed over it to third parties, trusting that they will keep it safe. The reality, however, is that despite their promises, they can’t guarantee that it won’t be exposed to bad actors.

In the e-commerce realm, identity fraud reigns supreme. Fraudsters find security gaps, infiltrate data sources, and use other people’s data as their own. Blockchain offers solutions to combat the identity theft plague by allowing consumers to gain more control of their data through the creation of self-sovereign digital identities.

How Blockchain Can Fight Fraud

Today, criminals can take a card and make purchases by representing themselves as the card’s owner. With billions of dollars being lost to fraud each year, it’s safe to conclude that the checkpoints in place aren’t sufficiently verifying that the purchaser is actually the person whose name is on the card. A sovereign identity powered by blockchain would push KYC to the next level by enabling merchants to trust credentials presented by customers that have been issued by known entities. In many of these scenarios — like showing ID at a bar — the actual data doesn’t even need to be exchanged. Instead, it simply needs to be confirmed to the satisfaction of the recipient.

We’re already seeing frameworks emerge for anonymously managing and tracking identity data. The nonprofit foundation Sovrin, for example, has donated code for a decentralized identity framework to the Hyperledger Indy project. This initiative aims to deliver a decentralized identity system via blockchain that’s based on a universal platform for protecting user information and putting individuals in control of their own data.

The Indy solution is self-sovereign, which means a person or organization can compile a lifetime’s worth of identity data while maintaining control and taking part of any transactions involving it. It makes identity theft extremely difficult and removes the need for companies to store personal data.

Decentralized blockchain technology makes the process possible, as well as quick and accurate. KYC would become decentralized so that consumers and merchants would no longer depend on centralized entities to manage personal information. By creating a digital mechanism that verifies you are who you say you are at the time of purchase, security moves from the data aggregators to the root owner.

With this kind of framework, individuals would control their information and merchants would choose whether to accept the identity verification and payment. It’s a promise that not only fulfills the intention of KYC, but also closes existing security gaps. In doing so, it offers the only true protection for consumers and merchants alike.

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Assessing the Intelligence of AI Marketing Tech By Amy Koski

In 2011, IBM Watson had just beat champion Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! and Paul Roetzer decided to apply that same technology to marketing.

In an episode of The Intelligent Business Show, Roetzer, founder and CEO of PR 20/20 and the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, chatted with show host Matthew Grant about his years-long journey of discovery to define and understand artificial intelligence (AI) and to establish the current and future potential of AI for marketing.

By 2016, marketing automation tools had hit the market and were being deployed with gusto, but they weren’t truly smart, and frankly, were barely automated. Stimulated and tickled by the irony that marketing automation companies sold mostly manual solutions, Roetzer set out to discover truly intelligent marketing technology that could learn and get better on its own.

Paul Roetzer

He wanted to make AI applications for marketers and their operations approachable and actionable.

“We’re not data scientists, we’re not programmers, we’re not AI engineers — we’re marketers,” he said. Making sense of AI would enable him to articulate what “AI” really means, does, and how it can be applied.

But pulling the industry along for this journey and helping the marketing space to understand it was —and still is — no walk in the park.

It took Roetzer about one year of writing and speaking about AI to actually comprehend it, and his journey to understanding is not unique.

“You could ask 10 experts and they don’t know! Everyone is literally defining it differently, so once you become confident enough to say, ‘Well, I understand it in my terms,’ then you’re good,” he said.

Sometimes ‘Smartech’ is Just Martech with Good Marketing

Grant pointed to the sheer volume of marketing solution vendor websites touting their AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics-fueled martech that promises to enable clients to identify intent from intent signals and / or use those signals to personalize messaging.

“If the people who are selling this don’t understand what those things mean, is it just hype? Or BS?” he asked.

Roetzer wants to chalk it up to industry-wide earnest ignorance of what AI and “intelligent” technology truly is. When marketers and sales reps at these allegedly AI-powered companies must market, sell, and develop messaging for tools they fundamentally do not understand, they write and sell to the best of their abilities.

Even at massive platform companies, he said, there may be teams of 300 engineers, but they’ve only got 3 people who actually know what machine learning is, how to use it, and how to identify and solve machine learning problems. Hence, platforms are built by folks who don’t know what AI is and who continue to “improve” it with capabilities that they don’t know aren’t intelligent.

Boiled down, Roetzer said, machine learning is making predictions based on historical data about future outcomes; but the difference between machine learning and data science is that the machine learning algorithm learns, gets smarter, and continuously improves its predictions and recommendations.

So, Does It Get Smarter on Its Own?

If a vendor’s software does not get smarter on its own, if its recommendations “don’t get better in real time based on new data, then it’s not machine learning,” Roetzer said.

An unfortunate side effect of this proliferation of not-truly-intelligent marketing technology — smartech, is i may, and i will— is that marketers don’t know when they’re buying quasi-intelligent martech. Therefore, they don’t know to push back and demand software that is truly intelligent.

“There should be demand for truly intelligent software, but the average marketer wouldn’t know it if they were staring at it.”

His litmus test for supposedly intelligent marketing tech is this: “Does it get smarter on its own?”

If it doesn’t, it’s not machine learning, and it’s not intelligent.

The Future of AI for Marketing

Attainable use cases for AI martech include content intelligence, budget allocation intelligence, and “things that require a lot of data and a lot of time,” such as advertising strategy and execution, Roetzer said.

He projects that in the next 3 – 5 years, there will be “ways to do things so much more intelligently, that as a marketer, you can’t fathom going back to setting up your own workflows.”

Grant wondered about “AI going the other way” — as in, “recipient-side AI that might make it harder to market to people.” He said, for example, how Microsoft Outlook divides his incoming email between “Focused” and “Other” folders, or how an email security management provider filters out marketing emails.

Roetzer reflected on personalization, privacy, and generational differences.

“The bet that the industry is making is that the convenience of having personalization is greater than the risk of your privacy being invaded.”

Some aspects of marketing will get harder the smarter AI gets, he said, but if the benefit and convenience of personalization win, he doesn’t think this will be a debate for younger generations, and suspects the ubiquity and evolution of AI will be a far greater asset than hindrance to marketers.

Do you know which specific companies are currently in-market to buy your product?

Wouldn’t it be easier to sell to them if you already knew who they were, what they thought of you, and what they thought of your competitors?

Good news – It is now possible to know this, with up to 91% accuracy. Check out Aberdeen’s comprehensive report Demystifying B2B Purchase Intent Data to learn more.

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Best Algorithm Wins By Zach Heller

going up.jpg

The age of AI is upon us. As marketers, we must embrace it. If we do, and if we can find the opportunities to use artificial intelligence to our company’s advantage, there will be nothing but success in our future.

Those who don’t, those who fight back against the changing tide, who insist on doing things the old way, are going to quickly find themselves out of a job. They will be passed over for promotions, will lose existing responsibilities to machines and those who realize their power, and will either go down with the sinking ship that is their company or will be shown the door as their company moves into the future without them.

It’s no longer a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN. How soon will the algorithms come for your job? Or, put in a more optimistic way, how soon will the algorithms make you better at your job?

First Mover Advantage and AI

The algorithms that will help us become better marketers will help us in a number of ways – from targeting new users to optimizing our offers and pricing. But regardless of what they will do for us, there is one thing that bonds them all. They need data to function. They need data to learn, to grow, and to succeed. That is why there is such a large first-mover advantage in AI.

Those companies with the greatest capabilities at the end of the day will be the ones that are investing in those capabilities right now. If you come late to the party, you may be permanently at a disadvantage. That is because your competitors will have better algorithms than you do, trained on more data, over a longer period of time.

When We All Have AI

When all companies in a place are using artificial intelligence to their advantage, it becomes a question of whose algorithm is best. And there are a number of factors that will come into play:

  • Who has the larger data set?
  • Whose algorithm has been around longer?
  • Who has trained out the initial bugs best?

These are still early days of implementation of machine learning and other technologies in the marketing space. It’s not too late to claim that first-mover advantage.

But what should you do now to set your company up for success in the future?

How to Move Your Company Forward with AI

There are a number of things you can do today that will help your company succeed in an AI-driven future:

  1. Do your research. Find out what other companies are already doing. Talk to experts, attend conferences, and network. There is a lot to learn, and people will spend their whole lives learning the intricacies of this new science. So don’t expect to pick it all up or become an expert overnight. But you can become the go-to source for information and innovation in your organization.
  2. Make the case. Once you have a basic understanding of how companies are going to be using these new technologies to improve their marketing, it’s time to loop in the decision makers. To get them on board, give them real-life examples. How will your company save money? Grow revenue?
  3. Partner with early-adopters. There are a lot of big companies out there that are already making gains with these new technologies, and they are willing to collaborate if it makes good business sense. A great way to get started is to take advantage of the tools that these first-movers produce, and partner with them to expand your own capabilities.

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Using Google Analytics Intelligence to Ask the Right Questions By Nicole Blanckenberg

Google Analytics Intelligence (GAI) is a powerful analytics tool that uses machine learning to offer invaluable customer insights. In essence, GAI answers questions you have about the state of your business, analyzes your data to give you insights into significant traffic changes and powers Smart Goals, Smart Lists, Session Quality and Conversion Probability to help you convert more sales.

GAI’s automatic insights are super helpful, yes, but it’s the custom alerts that make this tool amazeballs. In this post, we will guide you through best practices on creating questions for Google Analytics Intelligence – questions that will help the tool provide the best insights for your business. As well as tips on helping you understand the query quality and the answers you’re likely to receive, to ensure you make the most of GAI.

Understanding Limited of Google Analytics Intelligence

The first thing to consider is two things: GAI has some limitations and you need to consider that you’re talking to a computer, not a human. In short, Google Analytics Intelligence will point out patterns and trends, but you will need to be aware of how to work around the limitations.

For now, your questions need to point to historical data and the won’t work well with ‘why’ or ‘how.’ Here are three limitations to consider:

  • GAI can’t answer general search questions like, “What day is it?”
  • It doesn’t allow for ‘How’, with one exception. You can ask it “How many x?”
  • GAI can’t advise you on what you should do with that data, like asking which campaign you should spend more on.

Instead, you need to focus on basic questions that start with ‘Where,’ ‘Which’ or ‘How.’ For example:

  • How many sales did I do yesterday?
  • Which locations are my new customers from?
  • Where is my traffic coming from?

Or Google’s eCommerce suggestions:

  • Share of revenue by country last quarter?
  • Which products had over 200 unique purchases?
  • What is our conversion rate in [location]?

How to Set up Google Analytics Questions

To view insights and set up your Google Analytics Intelligence, go to ‘Reports’ from your Google Analytics dashboard and click the ‘Intelligence’ button.

how to setup google intelligence

From there you can view, save, delete or mark the insight as ‘read’ and add your questions.

setup google intelligence

how setup google intelligence questions

How to Ask the Right Questions

Google Analytics Intelligence uses dimensions (things like new users, new customers and countries, and keywords such as ‘where’ or ‘which’) to help answer and display these queries. These dimensions, along with the sentence structure, are the key to presenting these insights.

Beginner’s Tip: This is different from metrics, which are the variables presented in the insight reports.

Here’s a list of the main dimensions from Google and how to use them to create your questions.


These are commands that will help you track weekly, monthly or daily goals that will create graphs to help you review data. These can be questions like, “Most traffic by month” or “Trend of new shoppers per week.


These are your ‘which’ questions – questions that help you determine the performance of your store or campaigns. For example, “Which channel converted the best for [Goal X]?”


These are questions or commands that enable you to compare two sets of data side by side, such as “Conversion rate for referrals vs organic search” or “Traffic this week vs last week.

You can, of course, use a combination of questions to create complex questions such as “Trend of new users this year vs last year.”

Here’s Google’s full dimensions list with question examples and their tips on best practices for GAI questions.

best google intelligence questions

Ultimately, GAI can do wonders for your business, giving you in-depth data and insights into your business, marketing and shoppers.

New to analytics? Post your questions in the comments below and our Google experts will answer them for you. You can also check out our beginner’s guide: Google Analytics for eCommerce.

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How to Protect Your Data By Personal Branding Blog

Cybercrime incidents are on the rise and unfortunately, these crimes cost businesses a lot. Many small businesses are not prepared for cyber crimes because they don’t have the necessary budget and manpower for this. However, they should also be careful because no one knows whom hackers are going to come after. Therefore, every business should be prepared for hackers and protect its data. Below you can find some methods for data protection.

  • Know Your Data: Know what you are storing and how sensitive this information is. For example; what are you storing for customer data? Phone numbers, address information, and credit card information are more sensitive compared to email addresses and names of customers. Also, identify what you use this data for and where you store it. If it is not useful for you to store some of this information, then don’t.
  • Control Access to Your Data: Restrict access levels. Not everyone on your company should have access to customer data. Only certain people should have the necessary passwords to access sensitive data. You should have a company policy for access restriction and keep the names of employees who can access this data. If one of these employees quit, then, you can immediately cancel his/her access to the system.
  • Backup Your Data: It is very critical to back up sensitive data. You can do an on-site and off-site backup. Also, you should encrypt your data while backing up. Otherwise if your back-up is stolen, then anyone can access it. Most companies prefer to back up their data after business hours and generally at night. It is important to regularly check your backups to see if your backup system is still working.
  • Train Your Employees: Train your employees about the importance of data security. They are the ones dealing with data so they should know how to protect it and the fraud methods. It would be easier for them, if you issue a security guideline listing the dos and don’ts. This way they can be sure of what to do, if they come across with a questionable situation.
  • Use Paper Shredders: We can live in a digital world but still we use papers for documentation. Do not just tear papers up and throw them into the thrash can because the best way to get rid of papers with sensitive information is using a paper shredder.

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Boost Your Productivity With These 10 Helpful Apps By Rose Leadem

Free-Photos / Pixabay

With the abundance of digital resources available today, it can be difficult to cut through the noise, focus your mind and get things done. And while one method might work for you, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a success for the next person. Luckily, there are a number of different tools available to support everyone’s varying needs, lifestyles and goals. It’s only a matter of finding which works best for you.

Don’t worry though—we’ve done the hard work for you. From an app that manages your to-dos and helps you develop new habits to an app that boosts your focus by “planting a tree,” there’s something out there for everyone.

To learn what works best for you, take a look at these 10 helpful apps to boost your productivity.

1. OmniFocus

If you’re willing to drop big bucks on some useful tech, OmniFocus is the perfect app for helping you get a handle on your productivity. As one of today’s most popular “to do” apps on the market, OmniFocus has a simple, easy-to-use design, prepared to improve work flow and heighten productivity. From a to-do list to a calendar and a file organizer, OmniFocus is your one-stop-shop for everything productivity.

2. Forest

With all of today’s distractions, it can be difficult to focus on a single task. Luckily, Forest is here to get your mind back on track. Forest is an app that helps users regain focus by challenging them to “plant a tree” and patiently wait until the tree is fully grown. By instructing users to focus on this single task (however silly it may sound), the app seeks to help people return their focus so they can get back to work with revamped productivity.

3. ToDoist

ToDoist will ensure you never miss a task again. From reminding you to run errands to helping you manage projects, ToDoist will help you motor through your daily to-dos without missing a beat. Not only that but the helpful productivity app is also designed for collaborative projects, so you can delegate shared projects and measure yourself and your team’s progress.


If you’re someone who’s always writing out your to-do lists but not actually making time for those tasks in your calendar, is here to help. helps people transfer their to-do lists into calendars so they can actually visualize their workload and get things done. Consider it a personal assistant who turns lists into actionable and organized plans.

5. Pocket

With the abundance of resources online today, it can be difficult to filter through the crowd. And when you eventually find what you’re looking for, whether that’s a news article, video or blog post, you may be running out of time to actually take a look. While bookmarking the page may seem like a hassle and just another page to add to your 100-plus list of bookmarked websites, with Pocket, you now have a simple way of saving webpages. Pocket is essentially a digital to-do list for websites—a place to save webpages that you want to come back to later. Once you’ve installed the app, by clicking the “Pocket” button on your browser, the app will file and save the page so when you have more time, you’ll remember to come back to it later.

6. Evernote

If you’re one of those people who sticks post-it notes around their desk in order to remember everything, you’re in luck. Evernote will help you organize all of those sticky notes and put them in one place. Designed for note-taking, organizing, task lists and archiving, Evernote helps you capture and prioritize all of your thoughts and ideas, so you’ll be able to put them into action. From videos to voice memos, the app allows users to take notes and set reminders in various formats so if you’re on the go, there’s no need to stop and type something down.

7. MindMeister

If you’re someone with lots of ideas but trouble executing them, meet MindMeister—your new best friend for brainstorming and creating an actionable plan for pursuing your thoughts. MindMeister is a mind mapping app that lets users visualize, share and present their thoughts and ideas. By brain-dumping all of your ideas onto one of MindMeister’s canvases, and adding any solutions you can think of as well, the app will begin to help you group similar ideas, link related concepts and eventually create a detailed map of the idea and a plan of action.

8. Timepage

Created by the well-known journal, calendar and notebook company Moleskine, Timepage is the company’s first digital tool. Combining events, maps, contacts and weather, Timepage is a subscription calendar service geared toward busy professionals and entrepreneurs who tend to overestimate how much time they need. The calendar app has specially created a “heat map” feature, which shows users how busy and full their days are so they can manage their time and divvy up their work throughout the week.

9. Streaks

Streaks calls itself “the to-do list that helps you form good habits.” Based on the “don’t break the chain method,” Streaks pushes users to not only accomplish their daily tasks and projects, but meanwhile develop good habits too. Perfect for goal setting, the app measures and tracks how users are doing in getting things done and reaching their goals. A bonus: the app can be linked to health apps in order to help users achieve their fitness goals.

10. Toggl

Getting a handle on your focus and productivity is one thing, and the next is tracking, in real time, the actual hours you spend on specific tasks so you can best prepare for the future. And Toggl is here to help with that. Toggl is a time management and blocking app that will not only help track your time spent on specific tasks but also help you dedicate a certain amount of time for that task so you can realistically organize your days.

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