Excel gets co-opted in a phishing attack, Right Networks grabs Rootworks, and eight other recent developments in technology and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.
1. Microsoft warns users of a massive phishing campaign that uses Excel
Microsoft announced that their Security Intelligence team put out a warning regarding a large phishing campaign that they have been tracking. The campaign tries to trick individuals in having a remote access tool installed onto their PCs by opening an email attachment that holds Excel 4.0 macros deemed to be malicious. The campaign is disguised as a COVID-19 report and is being sent out appearing to come from the Johns Hopkins Center. Through opening the Excel file, NetSupport Manager — the remote access tool — is downloaded onto the PC and allows hackers to have access to and run them. (Source: ZDNet)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The bad guys are really in full swing so far this year, with reports of phishing, malware and data breaches significantly rising. This is because so many people have been working from home and are less protected by corporate security. It’s critical that you have an IT firm review your work-from-home employee’s security setup and provide some advice on avoiding phishing and other traps that may compromise their devices … and your network.
2. Right Networks acquires Rootworks
Right Networks — a cloud-enabled company that provides technology solutions to both small business and accounting firms — has obtained Rootworks, which is one of the profession’s top firm-improvement entity. Rootworks supplies accounting firms with the resources, features, tools, and support it takes in order to construct a high-caliber result in performance. Although Rootworks will still be operating independently as a business, the customers of the company will now be permitted to subscribe to their Modern Firm Performance piece, helping businesses with other areas such as front-office features, peer community support, organization and management, and integrating the technologies in place. (Source: Business Wire)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Right Networks — a client of my firm — is doing what I believe many technology firms will be doing over the next few years: expanding their offerings to provide more services that help their target customers succeed in their overall businesses. By offering the type of services that Rootworks already provides to its accounting firm community, Right Networks can establish itself as a tech company that provides much more than just technology. Look for other technology companies to be taking similar steps over the next few years.
3. Xero partners with Transferwise to help SMBs with cash flow
Cloud accounting provider Xero has announced that they will be partnering with payments platform Transferwise in order to provide a broader set of finance-focused tools in order to assist SMBs with handling cash flow once businesses start to open back up after the pandemic. The new tools include features to assist businesses in managing their revenue by helping compare their numbers throughout various times, provide businesses ways to predict their balances one month ahead of time, and a way to pay several bills at once. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Xero is a great alternative to other online accounting applications and continues to grow its network of partner products to help their SMB clients with cash flow. If you’re looking for a cloud-based application to handle your finances, this application should be one you investigate.
4. PayPal looks to make it easier to use contactless payments
PayPal shared that the company will be rolling out a new addition to their mobile app in order to allow customers to use QR codes to make payments at places such as farmers markets, stores, and pretty much anywhere else purchases can be made. The newest feature will appear on the newest PayPal app across 28 countries, including the United States. (Source: CNET)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, services that are touch-free are becoming more widely used and sought-after. With PayPal’s new feature, users will be able to make the payments by simply scanning a code from a screen or printout with the camera on their phone. As part of your reopening, it’s important to consider technologies like these to ensure that your business is as safe as possible for your customers and employees.
5. Zoho launches small-business CRM
Zoho recently launched a new CRM system that is specifically geared toward micro and small businesses in order to simplify tracking customers. The new system — Bigin — will cost $7 each month and is designed to operate as a beginner CRM that would eventually integrate or feed into various upgrades in Zoho CRM. Similar to other CRMs, Bigin still includes customer pipelines, automation, and telephony, and can be fully operational within 30 minutes. The new CRM tool is aimed at helping small-business owners and freelancers who may not need a complete CRM system. (Source: ZDNet)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: This is a very small app for very small businesses and — as mentioned above — is designed to bring in those users to the Zoho family and hopefully help them grow into bigger customers. Many CRM and accounting apps offer similar, very low-cost services like this.
6. Plastiq announces an accelerated release of a free credit card acceptance
Plastiq shared that they will be accelerating the process of making their card acceptance item available in light of COVID-19 and the hardships it has caused for small businesses. (Source: Globe News Wire)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Managing cash flow is top of mind for most businesses nowadays, as many struggle to recover from the recent economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This technology can enable your business to accept money from a customer who uses a credit card even if you don’t accept credit cards. You would get paid by check or other means. You pay no fee. Your customers would use their credit card and incur a fee but they can take advantage of early pay and volume discounts in addition to leveraging a 30-day float before the credit card balance is due. As a cash flow management tool, Plastiq is worth investigating.
7. Twitter employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever’
Twitter announced that they will permit their employees to work remotely “forever.” The company was one of the pioneers in allowing their employees to work from home when the COVID-19 outbreak first began. While employees who wish to work in the office will still be able to, they will need to wait until restrictions are officially lifted. Individuals who want to work from home instead will now be able to do so for as often and as long as they’d like as long as their role and circumstances allow it. (Source: The Guardian)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Kind of surprised that tech companies like Twitter haven’t been doing this for a while. We all know that cloud technologies are good enough to enable employees to work productivity from home. My expectation is that a lot of companies — including many small businesses — will be expanding their work-from-home policies. And then after a few years, scaling them back when they realize that face-to-face interactions is what really makes an innovative company grow. But, we’ll see.
8. LinkedIn merges live-streaming Events tools for virtual events
LinkedIn’s Events option will now be accessible by every company page, allowing event organizers to continue on with hosting virtual functions in place of events originally cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The networking platform is hoping to strengthen capacity in order to allow professional events to be hosted more efficiently and will do so through the addition of LinkedIn Live, allowing companies to fully air virtual events directly into Events. The new feature will work just like LinkedIn Live, only with the addition of allowing companies to invite in only attendees or company employees (Source: Social Media Today).
Why this is important for your firm and clients: I know a number of clients and other small-business owners that are using LinkedIn for more live-streaming of online meetings and events. It makes sense because that’s where our professional networks reside, so reaching out to them to promote an event is easier.
9. Ascentis announces touch-free time clocks with temperature reading capabilities
Ascentis — a company that leads the human capital management technology solutions and cloud-based workforce management space — shared that they will be rolling out a new feature to help in the post-COVID-19 era. Their new add-on, Ascentis CarePoint, will give companies and businesses touch-free solutions to help monitor their employees’ health during the course of the workday. The add-ons include a thermal sensor within time clocks in order to monitor temperature, and will allow a multitude of commands to be done through voice command in order to encourage touchless processes, among other features. The company hopes to provide a solution to costly and timely screening for the coronavirus through these non-disruptive and cost effective features. (Source: Yahoo Finance)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Health and temperature checks will be the new norm over the next year and smart business owners will be looking at effective and non-disruptive ways to do this. Ascentis is one of the many tech companies coming up with modifications to their existing time-clock and tracking hardware and is worth a significant look.
10. Slice raises $43 million to help pizzerias go online
Online ordering company Slice recently raised $43 million in funding. The platform was created to assist smaller pizzerias in competing with bigger pizza chains by supporting pizzerias through providing the marketing, customer service, payment systems, and necessary technology to make it all happen. (Source: Venture Beat).
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Through the platform’s dashboard, restaurants are able to receive data regarding each of the orders placed, as well as added features to help manage promotional codes, set hours of operation, edit menus, as well as other important administrative tasks. There are a lot of pizza shops in this country that could use this kind of help. If you have clients among them, this is a technology to watch.
Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.