1. Deloitte’s plan for fighting burnout is to let AI take over the dreaded HR and IT tasks
ConnectMe — an artificial intelligence-supported system introduced by Deloitte back in 2016 — is helping HR and IT professionals cut down on wasting unnecessary time dealing with relatively simple questions/tasks that often take hours for employees to complete. ConnectMe works off of algorithms that use in-house data. Using the algorithms and in-house data, chatbots are then able to provide quick, simple answers to many obstacles employees face on a day-to-day basis. ConnectMe also works to take over the mundane tasks of a job in order to free up employees to spend their time and skills on more rigorous tasks that require human thought and innovation. (Source: Fortune)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: It’s the future of HR. Right now big companies are using AI to help reduce their overhead. So when will this great stuff be affordable for us to do the same? Soon, I promise, soon.
2. 33% of executives don’t trust their orgs to protect employee data
A security report released by Dell announced that a third of U.S. executives do not feel confident in their company or organization’s capacity to safeguard their employee’s data. The global average of executives not confident in the protection of their data by organizations was 29 percent. With the growing volume of data being processed day-to-day in organizations, managing the data is becoming even more of a challenge. Eighty-eight percent of the participants in the survey expressed frustration with the number of passwords needed at work, admitting that they negate the concept by writing passwords down in notebooks or sticky pads. The report also shared that 64 percent of participants would welcome the use of biometric authentication in order to protect their company and organization data. (Source: Tech Republic)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The takeaway is that if you’re not fully comfortable with your company’s data security, you’re not alone. Moving your data to managed services companies will reduce — but not eliminate — this risk. Also make sure you have adequate cyber insurance.
3. Study shows that the majority of second-hand hard drives contain previous owner’s data
According to a study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire, an overwhelming 59 percent of used hard disks that are sold on shopping sites — such as eBay — are not appropriately cleared, which means that they can still contain data from individuals who had owned the drives prior to being re-sold. The testing was conducted through Comparitech, where 200 used hard drives were purchased and tested in order to see how much previous information was still stored and available. According to their findings, 26 percent still had easily recoverable data despite having been reformatted, 17 percent still contained data that was deleted but could still be found, and 16 percent seemed to not have had any data deleted at all. Out of the entire study, only 26 percent of the drives were adequately cleared. (Source: ZDNet)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: This is not great. Most of the IT people I know tell me that when throwing away a laptop, it’s best to drill holes through the hard drive. From a business perspective, I would recommend tossing old laptops and devices rather than giving them away or selling them — the security risks for your business are pretty substantial otherwise.
4. Microsoft gives enterprises another 9 months to get off Exchange Server 2010
Microsoft has announced that — for the next 9 months — they will extend their servicing of on-premises enterprise software. Extended Support for Exchange Server 2010 — which was initially slated to end on Jan. 14, 2020— will now end on Oct. 13, 2020. The reason behind the extended deadline was that Microsoft found that their customers were running into difficulty working to meet the initial deadline and — rather than force or rush it— the company acknowledged that discontinuing support for the popular product was going to take time. While customer installations of Exchange 2010 will continue to run after the new October deadline, Microsoft strongly encourages that users transfer over from Exchange 2010 as soon as they are able. (Source: Computer World)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: As I write here, my advice if you're still on Exchange 2010 or before: Upgrade as soon as possible to the most recent, cloud version of Exchange and move on. You've got other things to worry about and email is just too important for your company.
5. The latest version of Yahoo Mail helps users find attachments and deals
Yahoo Mail’s mobile app was updated in September with new versions for both iOS and Android. The new update is consumer-focused — leaning away toward the corporate lens — and looks to help users navigate and simplify their life. (Source: Tech Crunch).
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Although it’s consumer-focused, there are still many things that will impact small businesses like ours. For example, rather than your users having to type keywords of what they are looking for into the search, they will be able to navigate content through several views that will help them locate items. So if a user is looking for a file or picture, they will be able to select a view that simply brings up all of their attachments. Yahoo Mail users will also be able to customize which views they want to include and which they don’t need. All of this will increase productivity, which is a big reason why we’re using this stuff in the first place, right?
6. Your Mac’s next software update will kill off 32-bit apps
After years of development, the newest Mac update — known as MacOS Catalina — will be rolling out this October and with it bringing a boost from 32-bit apps to 64-bit apps. The update means that apps will operate much more quickly than before and with access to greater memory. Apple has been requiring all apps available in its App Store to adhere to the 64-bit format in order to make the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit smoother. (Source: CNET)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Your users who typically download apps directly from the App Store or regularly update them will most likely not run into any issues. However, there are apps that developers are not looking to update, such as Microsoft Office 11 for Mac. In these particular situations, users will need to choose between losing access to those apps by moving over to Catalina, or decide to forego the update all together and continue with the older software.
7. Faster Wi-Fi officially launched in September
The Wi-Fi Alliance — which handles implementing the standard of Wi-Fi — has formally launched their Wi-Fi 6 certification program. Wi-Fi 6 will include several new technologies that work in sync to ensure wi-fi operates more efficiently. Considering how many devices exist within a household or office, the purpose of Wi-Fi 6 is to boost speeds within networks that are packed with multiple users or devices at one time. With the announcement, companies will also be able to start advertising their products as supporting Wi-Fi 6 in the near future. (Source: The Verge)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: "Really, though, today’s launch is largely a formality," writes The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes. "The Wi-Fi certification program — while important, and very much marking the beginning of the Wi-Fi 6 era — isn’t required, and companies have been rolling out Wi-Fi 6 devices for months that likely work just fine." Regardless, the announcement is important for small-business owners because the alliance's actions, according to Kastrenakes confirm that "this is a clear sign that Wi-Fi 6 has arrived."
8. GoDaddy upgrades its website builder
GoDaddy’s website building application will include tools to help business owners manage their search engine optimization, email marketing campaigns, and will even sync with the company’s Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, and Google My Business accounts in order to make it easier to read the most current reviews. Another new feature — titled GoDaddy Insight — will use data to help business owners analyze their online marketing and how their presence measures up to other small businesses. Not only will the tool provide that data to business owners, but it will provide an action plan with suggested steps to help the company improve. (Source: TechCrunch)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: I bet that whether or not you’re a GoDaddy customer, you’re not taking advantage of the tools offered by your web hosting company. Why? Because you’ve outsourced your web development to a firm or professional that either isn’t aware or doesn’t specialize in the areas of digital and social media marketing. Why do I say this? Because I’m making the same mistake! The only way to really take advantage of these features is to hire a digital marketing person to dig in and maximize their benefits. That’s what I plan to do.
9. California Senate aims to limit the gig economy
The California Senate has passed legislation that is now going to make it more difficult for workers to be categorized as independent contractors. Gig-economy businesses and companies — such as Uber and Lyft — will be drastically altered if the bill comes to pass. Employees from Postmates, Instacart, DoorDash, Lyft, Uber, and others would be considered official employees as of Jan. 1, 2020. Other gig-workers — such as translators and taxi drivers — would also be impacted. Uber, Lyft, and similar companies taking part in the gig-economy are working to create an original category for workers in an effort to combat the bill. (Source: The Verge)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Many small businesses outsource their tech work to contract workers. In California the rule is that independent contractors are specifically “workers whose tasks aren’t performed under the company’s control, are performing work outside the company’s main business, and have their own independent enterprise in their trade are contractors.” Will this spread nationwide?
10. Facebook says it may remove Like counts
Facebook announced that it may begin hiding “Likes” on its News Feed. Instagram — which is owned by Facebook — is currently testing a similar approach in seven countries, with the idea to keep users from comparing themselves to what they see and potentially feeling less-than if their posts don’t measure up in Likes, although Facebook has not confirmed a particular motive. Experts believe, however, that if usage or ad revenue are negatively impacted by removing Like counts, Facebook will likely think twice. (Source: TechCrunch)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Would having less likes on your Facebook or Instagram posts impact your business? For most, probably not. But if your business is or relies on social media and you use likes as a metric to demonstrate the engagement results of your campaigns and activities this could be a big deal. My prediction is that the future of “likes” is seriously in doubt.
Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.