May 7, 2024

What is Digital Debt

Exploring the notion of digital debt's impact on productivity and how to use AI Assistants to enhance communication efficiency.

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What is Digital Debt


TL;DR: Digital debt is the overload of digital communications like emails, chats, and meetings, hindering productivity and innovation. Multitasking exacerbates this issue, as it's impossible for the brain to focus on multiple tasks effectively. AI tools, like Google and Microsoft's offerings, aim to mitigate digital debt by automating tasks and enhancing productivity. However, reliance on AI like ChatGPT for communication can be problematic due to inaccuracies. AI meeting assistants like Shadow are gaining traction for automating repetitive tasks and reducing digital noise, ultimately improving communication efficiency.

ai tools for productivity

Introduction - What Exactly is Digital Debt?

There seems to be a new word on the street and it’s ‘digital debt’. This term is basically a glorified word for the burden of managing your notifications. From overflowing inboxes to endless chat messages and video meetings, digital debt signifies the excessive load of data, emails, meetings, and notifications surpassing human capacity for processing. It’s the (literal) flood that employees find themselves entrenched in, a (never-ending) cycle where the need to coordinate and communicate overshadows the time needed for deep thinking and meaningful work (emphasis on meaningful).

Stop Being a Multitasker

Research conducted by Microsoft’s latest Work Trends Index, highlights the impact of “digital debt” on productivity and innovation. Employees struggle to find uninterrupted focus time during the workday because they’re constantly sifting through notifications across different channels like Slack and Notion. As a consequence, the creative potential essential for driving innovation remains largely untapped, and  work is the product of multitasking.

BUT Multitasking in itself is a misnomer. It’s impossible for the human brain to do two things at once unless it’s without much thinking.

digital debt

Role of AI

That’s why many companies such as Google and Microsoft are betting on Artificial Intelligence to alleviate the burden of digital debt. New tools have been showing some promise in helping minimize workers’ time spent managing digital debt. The full impact of artificial intelligence is unclear but so far AI has been able to automate mundane tasks, summarize information, and enhance productivity. In fact, a lot of employees have already been using tools like ChatGPT to help draft emails so that in turn they can do the work that matters to them. However, ChatGPT’s isn’t meant for communication and often provides inaccurate responses or “hallucinating.”

Instead there has been a new found interest in AI meeting assistants such as Shadow, especially in the online scene. AI meeting assistants are LLMs that have been designed specifically to help you with repetitive tasks such as sending follow up emails or sharing meetings notes. These tools are designed to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio and focus on the right communications, while summarizing less important communications. As a result of task automation, you’re left with little to no digital debt.

Conclusion - Improving Communication Efficiency

At the end of the day, keeping promises and meeting commitments can be a daunting task, especially with numerous demands vying for our attention. However, with the advent of AI-driven solutions, individuals and organizations can now leverage technology to ensure that promises are not just made but also kept.

What is Digital Debt
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