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Decades of technological innovation have transformed nearly every aspect of business, but little has changed in how we copy and paste information. Most of us still manually move information from one place to another using CTRL+C and CTRL+V, invented by Xerox computer scientists Larry Tessler and Tim Mott nearly 50 years ago.
Copy and paste was truly revolutionary, allowing workers to transfer information and data between static documents for the first time, and it soon became ubiquitous in workplaces around the world.
Today, however, copy and paste can no longer easily meet business demands as workers transfer thousands of data from interactive documents and websites to cells, fields and platforms. With so much data to move, copying and pasting has become a repetitive and mind-numbing task, prone to human error and extremely time-consuming. Valuable time that should be spent on important work and projects is instead spent manually transferring and updating data.
“It’s changing a lot of tabs,” says Emily Stewart, customer success expert at MobyMax. “‘OK. This is the date. Go back to the tab, write the date. ‘OK, expiration date. Let me double check that.’ Go back to the other tab.”
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Copy and paste frustrations have increased in recent years as data becomes increasingly important to the success of every business.
To ease the pain, machine learning (ML)-based process automation technologies have emerged to speed up data entry and automatic data updates. These technologies recognize the patterns of tasks that workers are trying to complete, transfer all data in one step (think autocomplete, but for copy and paste), and save a lot of time.
We shouldn’t accept the current limitations of copy and paste and treat it as a necessary evil that we have to live with. Copy and paste should become smarter. Innovations can and should be made to dramatically reduce the time spent on data transfer and meet business needs faster.
Here are some of my thoughts on improving copy and paste so we can focus on the work that really matters.
Currently, only one piece of information can be copied to the clipboard, which temporarily stores the data. On Windows and Mac, the clipboard defaults to saving only the last thing you copied.
But imagine if you press CTRL+V for a few seconds and the history of the information you copied appears. You can copy anything from your story without having to worry about pasting it somewhere right away. There’s no good reason for clipboard data to be short-lived when it can be so much smarter.
Make copy and paste dynamic
The original idea behind copying is that you are essentially creating a freeze frame of information or data that you can call upon later. The problem? If you wait too long, this data may become outdated and irrelevant.
“If I’m tracking candidates in a spreadsheet, I might have a column that says their most recent employer,” says Michelle Korman, technical recruiting manager at Clearco. “But people change jobs quickly these days. So even two weeks later, the table may have some outdated information.”
The Internet is a fast-paced place and very much alive with the two-way flow of information. Instead of creating static storage for a piece of data, copy and paste it can be recycled to periodically check the source for updates.
He is an example. you copy and paste information from a LinkedIn profile into a spreadsheet. Copy and paste functionality connects to the LinkedIn profile page. When the profile page is updated, the copy and paste function automatically updates the information in the table. This can also work to update the numbers on a dashboard every week or update your customer relationship management (CRM) platform with the latest customer contact information.
Or, let’s say you want to copy and paste all the information from 50 LinkedIn profiles into a platform like Salesforce. Wouldn’t it be great if the copy and paste function recognized what you wanted to do and automatically moved the information to the platform?
Reduce copy and paste errors
Copying and pasting is a relatively simple task, but it requires a laser-like focus on detail, especially when you’re working with thousands of data. It’s incredibly easy to move your cursor to the wrong spot and copy and paste the wrong thing or press the wrong keys on your keyboard. Every now and then I’ll think I’ve copied something only to realize I hit OPT+C or SHIFT+C by mistake.
Unfortunately, there’s usually no immediate indication that you’ve made a mistake. Perhaps a few hardware and software fixes can help reduce or prevent errors. For example, the keyboard might gently thump under your fingers as you activate the copy function on the wrong information, or your computer screen might momentarily highlight what you copied in yellow so you can make sure it captured the bits you wanted. .
There is certainly hope for copy and paste improvements, and inroads are being made. Copy and paste has improved smartphone flight, and Apple’s universal clipboard automatically transfers data, text, and images between Apple devices. Perhaps one day copy and paste its own dedicated keyboard button. Dare to dream!
Data management is increasingly important to every organization. Making copy and paste functions smarter will help relieve employee frustration and allow them to spend more time on business-boosting projects.
Rosie Chopra is the CEO and Co-Founder Magical.
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