Facebook Financial, transcriptions in Word, and eight other developments in technology this past month, and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.
1. TD rolls out online accounting for small biz
The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) logo is displayed on a newly-opened branch near the CN Tower, back left, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010. Toronto-Dominion Bank agreed to buy Chrysler Financial Corp. from Cerberus Capital Management LP for $6.3 billion in cash, adding an auto-finance company in its second-largest acquisition. Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg
TD shared in a press release that they will be introducing TD Online Accounting, which will serve as a new online accounting and payment feature. The addition will be made to their small-business online platform and will allow business owners to pay their electronic payments and credit cards straight from their TD Bank business checking, allowing the process of making payments to run more efficiently. TD is looking to add more small-business customers to their portfolio and will limit the offer to small businesses that already have an account for their business through TD online. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Next up: Banks buying accounting software companies. Kind of makes sense, right?
2. Microsoft launched a new transcription feature for Word
In August, Microsoft released an Office 365 feature named Transcribe in Word. The new feature will allow individuals to transcribe audio in real time through Azure’s artificial intelligence. Although the tool is presently limited to Word’s online platform, their long-term goal is to roll it into other 365 tools. With this feature, users will be able to upload various audio files to be transcribed or record a conversation straight to Word and have it transcribed immediately with the option to playback and edit the recordings. (Source: Silicon Republic)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: This could be a game changer, because think about it: If you or your employees just want to talk into Word how do you do it now without a third-party product? I foresee small-business owners using this as a way to dictate memos, write proposals and even create blog posts for their companies in a much faster way. I predict that the functionality will become advanced enough to recognize our commands with 99.99 percent accuracy and allow us to jump around existing documents. I also see this becoming a fantastic tool for disabled employees and workers performing field service. But will it replace the keyboard? (Note: My company is a Microsoft partner.)
3. Facebook has formed Facebook Financial
Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Facebook is ramping up their ecommerce involvement by launching recently developed Facebook Financial, a group that will be involved in ecommerce and payments ventures. According to Bloomberg News, Facebook Financial will head all of the organization’s payment ventures, which include their current payments platform, Facebook Pay. The aim of the new effort is to retain users in their apps for a longer period of time in order to amplify their advertising efforts and make more purchases on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Social brands like Facebook will continue to make a big push to keep their small-business users on their sites by offering more capabilities for selling, engaging and collecting cash. I foresee a time when a small business will be doing all of its business just on Facebook because of all the tools available.
4. Chrome will soon let you know if a web form is unsecure
A sign featuring Google Inc.'s logo stands at the company's Asia-Pacific headquarters during its opening day in Singapore, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Google officially opened its new hub in Singapore today. Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg
Google is stepping up their efforts to ensure that Chrome users will have their information protected when attempting to input it in web forms that aren’t secure. Beginning in their M86 version, the browser will start to flag forms that show they are secure on HTTPS pages but cannot be verified as being secure when the forms are submitted. From now on, autofill on these mixed forms will be disabled in order to prevent private or sensitive information from instantly populating. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: This will first affect mobile Android users. But ultimately, it’ll expand to every Chrome user. And ultimately Microsoft Edge, Firefox and Safari will do the same. This is a wakeup call for you to check your website’s forms and make sure they’re complying with the latest security protocols.
5. E-commerce is booming, all thanks to the pandemic
Reports released by the U.S. Department of Commerce revealed that e-commerce sales across the country have grown more than 30 percent in only three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the second quarter of the year, $211.5 billion was spent online, which is 31.8 percent more than last quarter. Walmart also reported that their Q2 e-commerce sales went up 97 percent, also thanks to online shopping and their grocery pickup and delivery. According to the Department of Commerce report, now 16.1 percent of all sales in the United States are done online. (Source: Tech Crunch and CNBC)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: COVID-19 only accelerated what was already happening: People are buying their stuff online and unless a business is an “experience” — a bar, restaurant, salon or other service — it’s going to need to make sure it has an online strategy, because brick and mortar is probably not going to cut it. Also of note is Walmart’s meteoric online rise and how it’s now challenging Amazon. Maybe your clients can do the same — if they’ve got a few hundred million dollars lying around to invest.
6. Google lets retailers customize product info in search results
The Google Inc. logo hangs illuminated at the company's exhibition stand at the Dmexco digital marketing conference in Cologne, Germany, on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Dmexco is a two-day global business and digital economy innovation platform, attracting the industry's most important personalities and corporate decision-makers. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
Google is now going to enable shop owners to individualize product descriptions, giving them more control in the way their product information appears in Google search. (Source: Search Engine Journal)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Some of the features include giving retailers the option of whether a picture appears with their product search, length of information displayed, image size, or keeping certain information from showing up in an initial search at all. Smart retailers looking to leverage their search engine optimization will be jumping on these new features.
7. Most consumers abandon a slow-loading ecommerce site
A new survey conducted by Retail Systems Research found that 90 percent of participants were likely to desert sites that took too long to load, and 57 percent of shoppers shared they’d be likely to hop to another retailer’s site to shop for similar items. Forty-one percent of participants said they would simply go make their purchases through Amazon, while 21 percent of participants said that if a website is loading slowly, they would not return to that website at all. The survey also revealed that 11 percent of participants would bring up their issue to the actual business, while 21 percent would take their complaints to social media. (Source: Digital Commerce 360)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: How fast are your clients’ e-commerce sites? If your clients are selling products online you better make sure it’s fast. Very fast.
8. The best wireless earbuds and Bluetooth headphones for phone calls
Editors at CNET — a tech, culture, and science website — recently released their picks for the best wireless headphones for 2020. The picks were divided up into three categories: budget-friendly wireless headphones, best noise-canceling headphones, and best true/authentically wireless earbuds. (Source: CNET)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Everyone is using this stuff and maybe you’re paying for it as a perk. If that’s the case, then the top pick for best-sounding true wireless earbuds is the Momentum True Wireless 2 by Momentum which cost $300. The top spot for noise-canceling headphones went to Sony’s WH-1000XM3 at $350. Lastly — costing $249 — the best true wireless noise canceling headphones went to the Apple Airpods Pro.
9. Boeing 747s are still using floppy disks. Yes, floppy disks
Alixandria Chen - stock.adobe.com
A recent report uncovered that Boeing 747s — which were initially revealed in the last 1980s — continue to use floppy disks to get important software updates. Recently, members of the security research team at Pen Test Partners had the chance to fully examine the entirety of the plane’s avionics, discovering a disk drive that still used floppy disks. According to the report, the disk drive was utilized to import vital data that guided the plane’s navigation and required updates once a month that were installed by an engineer who would visit on site. (Source: The Verge)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Before you freak out, I actually kind of understand this, mainly because many of my small-business clients do the same. Despite all the experts who urge that we always use the latest technologies, there’s a reason to stick with the old stuff: If it works, don’t break it. Perhaps the cost/benefit of changing out these archaic floppy disk systems isn’t worth the effort. That’s a question for Boeing to answer. But countless small-business owners use this rationale when they decide where to spend their investment dollars. And in many cases, the decision to stay with older tech makes better sense if the ROI can’t be justified.
10. Income verification startup helps property managers during the crisis
The Closing Docs — a Seattle-based startup — is looking to assist both landlords and renters during the coronavirus pandemic. The startup helps property managers gain a clearer picture regarding a tenant’s ability to make rent payments through their income verification software. (Source: GeekWire)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: If your clients are in the property management business, this is a tool to consider. When a potential tenant applies for an apartment, the company’s software will link to the bank account belonging to the applicant in order to examine and organize their deposit data into a single report focusing detailing income. The software also has the capability to be integrated with online rental applications.
Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.