Technology It's time to stop copying and pasting like it's...

It’s time to stop copying and pasting like it’s 1973


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Decades of technological innovations have transformed nearly every business area, but little has changed in the way we copy and paste information. Many of us still move information from one place to another manually using CTRL+C and CTRL+V, invented nearly 50 years ago by Xerox computer scientists Larry Tesler and Tim Mott.

Copy and paste was indeed revolutionary, allowing employees to transfer information and data between static documents for the first time, and it soon became ubiquitous in workplaces around the world.

Today, however, copying and pasting can no longer easily meet the demands of business as workers transfer thousands of bits of data (numbers, text, images, and more) 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 used to manually transfer data and keep it up to date.

“It’s a lot of tab switching,” says Emily Stewart, customer success expert at MobyMax. “‘Okay. It’s this date.’ Switch back to the tab, write the date. “Okay, expiration date. Let me check that.” Switch back to the other tab.”


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Copy and paste more intelligently

Frustrations with copy and paste have come to a head in recent years as data has become increasingly important to the success of any business.

To ease the pain, machine learning (ML) based process automation technologies have emerged to speed up data entry and automatically update data. These technologies recognize patterns in the tasks employees are trying to perform, transfer all the data at once (think auto-complete, but for copy and paste) and save a lot of time.

We should not accept the current limitations of copying and pasting and consider it a necessary evil to live with. Copying and pasting must become more intelligent. Innovations can and should be made to dramatically reduce the time spent transferring data and meet business needs faster.

Here are some of my thoughts on improving copy and paste so we can focus on work that really matters.

Currently, only one piece of information can be copied to a clipboard at a time, where data is temporarily stored. By default, on Windows and Mac, the clipboard only keeps the last thing you copied.

But imagine you pressed CTRL+V for a few seconds and a history of your copied information appears. You can copy anything from your history without worrying about pasting it somewhere right away. There’s no good reason why clipboard data should be short-lived when they could be so much more intelligent.

Make copying and pasting dynamic

The original idea behind copying is that you essentially create a still image of a piece of information or data that you can recall later. The problem? If you wait too long, this data can become outdated and irrelevant.

“If I track candidates in a spreadsheet, I might have a column with their most recent employer,” says Michelle Corman, technical hiring manager at Clearco. “But nowadays people change jobs quickly. So even after two weeks, the spreadsheet may contain some outdated information.”

The internet is a fast-paced place and alive with the two-way flow of information. Instead of creating a static memory of a piece of data, copy and paste can be adapted to periodically go back to the source for any updates.

He’s an example: you copy and paste information from a LinkedIn profile into a spreadsheet. The copy-and-paste feature connects to the LinkedIn profile page. When the profile page is updated, the copy-and-paste feature automatically updates the information on the spreadsheet. This can also work for updating numbers on a dashboard on a weekly basis or updating your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform with the latest customer contact information.

Or 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 feature recognizes what you want to do and pulls the information into the platform automatically?

Reduce copy and paste errors

Copying and pasting is a relatively simple task, but it requires laser focus on details, especially when working with thousands of data. It’s incredibly easy to move your cursor to the wrong place and copy and paste the wrong thing or press the wrong keyboard buttons. Time and time again I’ll think I’ve copied something, only to realize I’ve accidentally pressed OPT+C or SHIFT+C.

Unfortunately, there is usually no immediate indication that you have made a mistake. Perhaps some hardware and software adjustments can help reduce or prevent errors. For example, the keyboard may pulsate gently under your fingertips when you activate the copy function on the wrong information, or your computer screen may momentarily highlight what you’ve copied in yellow so you can be sure it’s capturing exactly the bits you want. .

There is definitely hope for copy and paste improvement, and progress is being made. Copy and paste made the leap to smartphones brilliantly, and Apple’s Universal Clipboard automatically transfers data, text, and images between Apple devices. Maybe one day copy and paste will even get its own dedicated button on the keyboard. Dare to dream!

Data management is becoming increasingly important for every organization. By making functions like copy and paste more intelligent, employees can become less frustrated and spend more time on projects that stimulate the business.

Rosie Chopra is COO and co-founder of Magic.

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