A Google search revealed a site where I simply input my desired appointment time. I instantly got a list of specialist physicians who were available during those hours.
Booking an orthopedist has become as simple as finding a manicurist or a restaurant reservation.
Inspired by that experience, I reached out to other business owners and asked them what technologies they've used and developed in 2017 to make their lives easier and more convenient. Here's a small sample. If you don't find one you love, here are 27 apps you can try.
Tech for Home, Health and Happiness
Russell Reeder, CEO of OVH US says "Innovation around home automation has brought much comfort and savings to my family's life, especially since we moved to a new house this year." He estimates that smart home automation has decreased electrical use by 15 percent, and he uses Google Nest home cameras to identify visitors.
"The digitizing of the patient experience" is in full swing, says Ken Comée, CEO of CareCloud. Physicians who allow patients to book appointments, pay, and interact online from their phones have a clear competitive advantage with millennial patients.
Technology ensures that Rene Link, CMO of Sierra Wireless, feels free and safe (but still connected) when exercising. "The new Apple Watch with cellular connectivity, paired together with my AirPods is awesome," he says. "I run in fairly isolated areas (e.g. vineyards) and the minimalism of having cellular connectivity untethered from my iPhone has allowed me to feel safe and accessible, while carrying less of a load."
Saving money is always sweet when shopping. Karl Van den Bergh, SVP and CMO of DataStax, uses a service called Earny, which automatically refunds money on online purchases when a price drop happens. "I would never have the time (nor the inclination) to do that research on my own," he says.
Another money-saver is Dosh, a favorite of Lee Huffman, a travel and lifestyle writer. "I'm always looking for apps that perform automatically; set it up once and then let it work its magic. Dosh is pretty simple to use." After you download and register your credit cards, you receive cash back when you patronize participating restaurants, hotels, and retailers, he says.
Tech for Work Efficiency and Culture
Slack chat bots are a CEO's best friend. Groove.co CEO Chris Rothstein has saved time and even improved morale in his company by using Slack to track and approve expenses and give shout-outs to high performers.
Technologies do not have to have bells and whistles to be useful and transformative. Evan Tarver, Investments Analyst of FitSmallBusiness.com, is a fan of the Google suite of products, specifically Google Drive and Google Docs. "While it may seem boring," he says, "Google Docs has completely changed the way I collaborate with both colleagues and friends."
I love my Echo at home, and I look forward to the day when the business equivalent of Alexa -- the virtual digital assistant -- can arrange and kick-off meetings for me, schedule appointments, and perform other work tasks. Christian Pedersen, SAP's chief product officer, predicts that day is very close. He says, "Moving into 2018, voice-activated digital assistants will start to take on a completely new role in supporting the next generation workforce...freeing up workers' time to focus on more complex projects."
As you think about what's on your screen these days, ask yourself: "Will this make me happier, richer, or save me time?" The answer may be as close as your fingers.