Here are ten things in technology that happened last month and how they affect your firm and your clients. Did you miss them?

1. LinkedIn joins the “Gig Economy.” LinkedIn has recently released Profinder — a marketplace that connects consumers with independent service providers. The service covers more than 140 service areas like design, writing, editing, accounting, real estate and even career coaching. Professionals who have submitted 10 or more proposals will need to subscribe to the site's Business Plus subscription ($60 per month), which will then open them up to unlimited leads.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: If you’re a business looking for a freelancer, here’s another reputable place to try. If you’re a freelancer looking for work, then there are more than 450 million leads in LinkedIn’s community. Looks like you’ll be busy!

2. Lyft now gives its business users the ability to customize their expense reports. Earlier this year, the taxi-sharing service launched a service targeted at the business community and professionals to help them better segregate rides taken for work or for personal use. Now, the company is stepping that up — allowing users to grab their business rides and put it into an expense report.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: If organizing travel expenses is a big task for your firm or your clients, this is a tool that will help make it easier. And it may encourage you to tell your people to take a Lyft instead of their you-know-who competitor.

3. Uber is now offering free rides … but with no driver. Uber will officially become the first American company to use self-driving cars commercially. The ride-sharing service will offer the autonomous vehicles for taxi rides in Pittsburgh. The rides will be free. But you will have an additional passenger: an Uber engineer just to make sure things go OK. Pierogis are not included. Uber also announced that it was purchasing a company that makes technology that powers self-driving trucks.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Google, Uber -- even Ford has announced that it will have self-driving vehicles on the road by 2021. This is quickly becoming a reality, and the technology will change how your employees get to work, how you travel and how your products are shipped — hopefully safer, faster and less expensive.

4. A new tattoo can control your smartphone. Using materials that you can buy in a craft store, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Microsoft have unveiled DuoSkin, a temporary tattoo with a mini-microchip that can enable people to control a device wirelessly.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: This is taking wearable tech to a whole new level. Now visitors to your office can be given temporary access to rooms or computers by tapping their arm. Or warehouse personnel can log inventory receipts with a quick tap of the tattoo. Per this Forbes piece, cosmetics firm L’Oreal is interested in monitoring the exposure of the sun’s UV rays and smartphone companies would be interested in this new way to secure their devices, among other conveniences.

5. How about a Match.com for hiring? Startup company StaffGeek has created a new application that “fuses technology and transparency to create a statistically favorable match” of potential employment candidates. The assessment tool matches characteristics and experience of both prospective employees and the company and uses a proprietary method for selecting and recommending the best matches.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: One of the biggest problems business owners face is finding good talent. The job market is tight. And it takes an enormous commitment of time to whittle down potential candidates. This new tool may not only save time, but also remove guessing from the process.

6. Google introduces its version of FaceTime, and it’s about time. In what looks like a pared-down version of Google Hangouts, the company has released a new video-calling app called Duo. And according to a Forbes review, it’s a “no-frills, easy-to-use video calling app. Duo is fantastic.”

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: What happens if you want to make a quick video call to someone who doesn’t have an iPhone? Sure, you can install Skype, and that’s good. But if your company is more of a Google fan, now you’ve got an easy-to-use video calling app with few bells and whistles. Oh, and it’s available on both iOS and Android.

7. Pinterest is offering video ads, and it’s also about time. In a move to catch up on its social media competitors, Pinterest has finally gotten its act together and is now allowing advertisers to purchase “promoted videos” that will run mainly in users’ feeds but “may appear in search results and other parts of the app over time.”

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: If your company is very active on Pinterest, as many small businesses with visual-oriented products are, then you can now create video ads to promote your products on the platform.

8. WhatsApp and Facebook will begin sharing user data for ad targeting. In its newly released privacy policy, Facebook says it will be stepping up how it handles encryption and protecting its users from snooping by advertisers. Except, it seems, for WhatsApp, the messaging service purchased in 2014 for $19 billion by the social media giant. Facebook said that it plans to share information about who your friends are, where they are and what content they like based on data collecting from WhatsApp.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Controversial as this may seem, it will enable Facebook to deliver more targeted advertising to its user base, which means that ads could be more effective. For privacy advocates, it’s not great news. For marketers, it is.

9. Google is planning to crack down on “intrusive interstitials” in January. What the heck is that? It’s basically an annoying pop-up that users must deal with on your website before they can get to the main content, particularly when they arrive at your site from a search site like Google. If you’ve got this on your site, Google’s going to punish you by lowering your search rankings, according to Search Engine Land.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Many companies (and publishers) have pop-ups on their sites that users must navigate around before getting to the real content. Maybe your site does, too. That will raise a search engine optimization challenge for you unless it’s changed soon.

10. Engineers have developed a new, flexible window material that can more efficiently regulate heat and light. The material is inexpensive to produce and can lighten or darken with a small electric charge, according to Tech Times, which means it can control the radiation that produces heat. “Such smart and flexible windows are ideal for homes and businesses because they can save on cooling and heating bills,” according to the article.

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Lower cooling and heating bills? Can’t wait for that…

 

Gene Marks, CPA, is the owner of the Marks Group. Besides Accounting Today, he writes for The New York Times, Forbes and Inc.com.

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