[IMGCAP(1)]Here are five things that happened in the world of technology this past month and why they’re important for your business (and mine). Did you miss them?

1. Google is testing a new schema to markup your local business data.

From Search Engine Land:  “Google added a new structured markup page for providing local business data to Google. The document says that Google is currently piloting this schema and hopes to release it soon. In summary, you can use schema to markup your web pages in order to more efficiently communicate changes to your local business data to Google. Effectively these changes would make it easier for both Google and the local business to show more accurate and real-time data in the Google local knowledge panel that shows up in the search results.”

Why this is important for your business: This is the kind of thing that laymen business owners don’t pay attention to, and yet it has an enormous impact on whether or not your website gets found by prospective customers and the information they see when they find you. Find a good search engine optimization consultant or web developer and work with them to make sure your web pages are using the latest schema from Google to keep your online presence ahead of your competitors. I know I will.

2. A study finds that the leading cause of data breaches is employee error.

From The Wall Street Journal“‘Employee error’ turns out to be the most common reason for a data breach at companies, according to a new cybersecurity report released by the Association of Corporate Counsel. This means the breach occurred as the result of a mistake the employee made, such as accidentally sending an e-mail with sensitive information to someone outside the company. The report, which contained survey responses from more than 1,000 in-house lawyers in 30 countries, found that 30 percent of breaches this year occurred as a result of employee error. Other common reasons for a breach included unauthorized access by insiders intending to steal company data and phishing attacks, when third parties send spam e-mails designed to trick employees into giving up their personal information.”

Why this is important for your business: Sure, you can spend money on software and technical people to ensure your data is protected. But it’s the common sense and oftentimes innocent mistakes made by your own employees that put you most at risk. So put some money aside for training this year. It may save you a lot in the end.

3. Periscope is named “App of the Year” by Apple.

From USA Today:  “If you noticed video updates this year coming from the likes of celebrities Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres, presidential candidate Donald Trump, citizen journalists or your friends, well, you’re not alone. The live video-streaming app Periscope took off big-time in 2015; Apple [recently] named it the coveted iPhone App of the Year in its annual year-end ranking of the best in mobile tech. ‘This game-changer made sharing and watching live videos an instant obsession,’ said Apple in offering the nod.”

Why this is important for your business: According to this report, streaming video and audio now account for 70 percent of U.S. broadband usage.  The enormous popularity of streaming technologies like Periscope, Google Hangouts, Meerkat and others cannot be ignored by businesses who are looking for new audiences and who want to provide content to their existing communities.  And that content will be video.


4. Target unveils a pop-up store in New York that gives us a hint about what’s to come in retail tech.

From Target’s Web site: “Target Wonderland will merge the physical and digital retail experience to reimagine holiday shopping for guests. As guests step into the space, they receive a custom lanyard and digital Radio Frequency Identification key — the same technology we use in our stores! If any of the products featured throughout the journey catch their eye, they can simply use the keys to scan a mini-bullseye tag and add the items to a custom digital shopping list. At the end of the adventure, guests can check out and purchase anything they added to their list.”

Why this is important for your business. Are you or your clients in retail? Then watch Target closely. And if you’re in the New York area, stop by their store. These are the techs that you will be using in the next few years if you intend to stay competitive and grow your business.

5. Twitter is about to enormously increase its advertising audience.

From Re/code:  “Twitter announced that it will start showing ads to its ‘logged out’ audience, a group of roughly 500 million people who visit Twitter every month but who don’t have active user accounts. That means if you click on a tweet that appears in a Google search, for instance, you may see ads on that tweet page or on the tweet creator’s profile.”

Why this is important for your business: As explained in the above Re/code piece:  “First, it’s important to some advertisers, who don’t think Twitter has enough registered users — especially compared to Facebook — to matter, and also to Wall Street, for the same reasons. But the company has argued for years now that its audience is much bigger than the 320 million people who log in each month, and it has been telling Wall Street that it can make money off people without Twitter accounts. Now it’s finally doing that.” As small businesses look to better target their very limited advertising dollars, this move makes spending on Twitter more attractive than ever.

Besides Accounting Today, Gene Marks writes for The New York Times, Forbes and Inc.com.

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