Here are five things that happened in technology last month that affect you and your clients. Did you miss them?
1. Google is building an in-house startup incubator, “Area 120.” From PC Magazine: “According to multiple reports, Google is now creating its own in-house startup incubator called Area 120. Though its name sounds a little X-Files, how it works is pretty simple. Googlers who are looking to team up and launch a brand-new business can apply to join Area 120 by submitting a business plan to Google. If selected, the team will get to work on its idea full-time for a certain amount of time — and, no, we’re not sure what that means for a person’s actual job responsibilities during that time. Presumably, Google would be weighing the importance of one’s Google job versus the potential success (or interesting aspects of) one’s business plan.”
Why this is important for your business: If you’re a startup and think your product would appeal, Google is giving you a chance to take advantage of its in-house expertise and technology to develop your business. And bonus: I hear their cafeteria is amazing!
2. Skype for Business hits the Mac in Preview mode. From TechCrunch: “Microsoft announced the launch of Skype for Business for Mac Preview — the business-focused version of Skype’s communications services aimed at a commercial client base. IT administrators and individuals can sign up to test the new desktop software, which introduces features like Outlook integration, additional security, and calls that allow for up to 250 people versus Skype’s 25 max. However, Microsoft says invites will roll out first to IT admins before becoming more broadly available.”
Why this is important for your business: Living up to his promise, Satya Nadella is expanding all of Microsoft’s applications to platforms well beyond Windows. This is great news for businesses that rely on Mac or Android platforms that are using Office and want to take advantage of the expanded features that Skype for Business offers.
3. Malware attacks are becoming more frequent and harder to fight. From Information Week: “The frequency and severity of malware attacks has increased ‘dramatically’ since 2011, according to an April 19 State of the Endpoint Report from the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by CounterTack, a company that provides endpoint detection and response technology for enterprises. Of the 694 U.S. IT security practitioners surveyed, 56 percent reported that malware attacks in recent years have become ‘stealthier and more difficult to detect.’ While 43 percent of respondents told researchers that they had a strategy in place to deal with destructive malware in 2015, only 38 percent reported the same a year later.”
Why this is important for your business: If big companies are struggling to keep up with malware attacks, what about small businesses like yours and mine? Of course, there’s no 100 percent solution to stopping this problem, but this is yet even more evidence that investing in an IT specialist or firm that provides security services, along with the right software and training, will go a long way to defending against these kinds of attacks.
4. Google Domains moves to a “.Google” domain. From Venture Beat: “The mighty Google has made an ever-so-subtle change to its domain-name buying service, Google Domains: It’s now hosted on its very own ‘.Google’ top-level domain. Anyone visiting ‘domains.google.com’ or ‘google.com/domains’ will now be redirected to ‘domains.google.’”
Why this is important for your business. “Not-coms” are a growing trend and Google’s move emphasizes its importance. Companies like Google and Donuts offer hundreds of domain names without a .com. That means that you can create a very personalized domain name for your business to help increase your brand, and create conversation and more awareness for your company. For example, if you run a beauty salon called Betty’s Beauty Salon, you can now have your own domain: bettysbeauty.salon. Or if you’re in the flower business, your new Web site can be called MainStreet.Florist. Athletes and celebrities are jumping on this trend and your business will probably be next.
5. Microsoft and major banks strike a “blockchain” deal. From Forbes: “Microsoft and the R3 consortium of 43 banks announced a partnership that will help spur the adoption of distributed ledger technologies among R3’s members, in yet another sign of how established financial institutions and technology companies are racing toward what the industry sees as a distributed ledger future.”
Why this is important for your business: As Forbes contributor Laura Shin writes: “The technology, commonly called blockchain, promises to enable faster, more secure, more efficient and transparent financial transactions — not only for financial institutions but for individuals using the technology without middlemen and disrupting traditional financial services. Microsoft will essentially provide ‘blockchain as a service,’ in which the technology is accessed via the cloud, similar to the way Google Docs offers word-processing software that the user need not download onto their computer.”
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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