10 tech stories you may have missed: Faster security

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Creating open standards for health data, incubating talent, and eight other things that happened in technology this past month and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.

1. Protecting your data on the web is about to get faster. The Internet Engineering Task Force recently finished a years-long process of modernizing the technology used to secure website communications. Version 1.3 of Transport Layer Security is now ready for websites, browsers, and other parts of the internet that rely on its security. Nowadays, TLS is more important than ever because Google, Mozilla, Cloudflare and others are pushing to encrypt every webpage, not just sensitive ones like login pages, in order to thwart surveillance, hackers, and companies that want to inject advertisements. (Source: CNET)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: The latest TLS will soon be incorporated in just about every way you use to access the internet, and with its new enhancements, it should make browsing for you and your employees faster and more secure.

2. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others make health data pledge. Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Salesforce announced a joint effort to fix the lack of open standards around health data — which is a huge barrier for them to get into the $3 trillion health system. To address the problem, these tech companies have pledged to build tools for the health community around a set of common standards for exchanging health information electronically. (Source: CNBC)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: One of the biggest struggles since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 has been the health care industry’s ability to share patient data among various providers. Although much has been invested, little progress has been made. Now the big tech companies are getting involved. You can be sure that they’ll be looking to partner and invest with other, smaller tech companies like yours to help them accomplish this goal. But regardless if you’re in the tech business or not, anything that will improve the productivity of our healthcare providers will not only help patient care, but hopefully keep costs — our costs — under control.

3. Facebook administrators need to prepare for stricter security with 2FA for business pages. Facebook just announced new security measures that will require page managers to complete an authorization process before posting — a measure that should prevent fake accounts from accessing shared spaces. The new authorization asks page managers to secure their accounts via two-factor authentication and to confirm the location of their primary country. Facebook is trying out this process first with admins of pages that have a large U.S. audience. (Source: Tech Republic)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: This is yet another step in Facebook’s endless battle to minimize hacks and data breaches. 2FA is common and doesn’t take much additional time. Its benefits, however, are significant.

4. How Johnson & Johnson is using startup incubators to find new talent. Since 63 percent of new prescription drug approvals now come from startups, Johnson & Johnson has begun using a network of incubators in 11 cities to position itself as an innovative brand in both pharmaceuticals/medical devices and in the consumer products area. For J&J, finding talent with expertise in technologies like data analytics, blockchain and connected devices is concerning, and incubators are a way for large companies like it to tap into startup talent. (Source: DIGIDAY)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: A number of large companies are starting incubators, venture funds and communities to nurture startups in their industries with an eye towards investing in new technologies or ideas that could benefit them in the future. It’s an opportunity both for the big firm and the small business.

5. The Department of Energy issues $31 million small-business research and development funding opportunity announcement. The Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs issued their first Funding Opportunity Announcement for Fiscal Year 2019. The Phase I Release 1 FOA has about $31 million in available funds and allows small businesses to submit applications to establish the technical feasibility of new innovations that advance the mission of the Office of Science. Phase I grants are six to 12 months in duration, with maximum award amounts of $150,000 or $225,000, depending on the research topic. (Source: Energy.gov)

Why this is important for your clients: There’s a lot of government cash out there to grab if you’re willing to go through the approval process and do the paperwork required. The SBIR grants has, for years, been funding many technology startups at their very earliest stages and provided critical capital to help them launch. If your clients are looking for cash, these grants are legitimate options.

6. Nine ways the Galaxy Note 9 it beats the iPhone. According to one blogger on ZDNet, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is not only a lot better than last year’s Note, but also beats Apple’s iPhone in many ways. For example, it has a better-performing 6.4-inch screen, a smarter S Pen stylus, a bigger battery, and lots of extra storage. And its price starts at just $999. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business and your clients: My take: the Galaxy 8 that I own now is great but my only complaint is the battery life, particularly when I’m running a few apps. As I — like so many other business people — rely significantly on this device for my work, I hate having to worry about charging my battery all the time. With all that’s great about the Galaxy 9, I’m still not sure that problem is fully addressed.

7. Why is Facebook reducing advertisers’ targeting capabilities? In order to try to curtail discriminatory practices, Facebook announced it is reducing the targeting capabilities available to advertisers on the social network by 5,000 — which the company says won’t meaningfully change the total number of targeting options on offer via Facebook’s Ads Manager tool. The company won’t publicize the full list of categories to be removed in order to prevent “bad actors” from circumventing the policy change. The move follows a consultation with third parties to help Facebook’s advertisers better realize the fine line between discretionary ad targeting and outright discrimination. (Source: Adweek)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Facebook’s intentions are good but the results may impact a small business’s ability to reach certain prospects if their core audience selection is considered to be “discriminatory.” If you or your clients are targeting your products at a specific race, gender or religion, for example, then you want to re-visit your audience selection and make sure your options haven’t significantly changed.

8. Google is getting ready to open its first retail store. Google is reportedly close to finalizing a lease on a 14,000-square-foot permanent location in the Fulton Market district of Chicago. The company had previously opened temporary pop-up stores in other cities. This move makes sense for Google since the company now offers several hardware devices such as Chromebooks, Pixel smartphones, Google Home speakers, Nest home devices, and Daydream VR headsets. (Source: Fast Company)

Why this is important for your clients: Smart retailers are learning that the new landscape requires both click and brick. Even Google has realized that to sell their products they need more than one channel. Amazon is doing the same by opening up physical bookstores. Can your clients be selling products through multiple channels? If so, you should consider advising them.

9. Zippin opens a cashierless store in San Francisco. Cashierless store Zippin opened in San Francisco last month, beating Amazon Go to become the first cashierless store in the city. As with Amazon Go and competitors like Inokyo, which opened a cashierless store in Mountain View, California, shoppers at the Zippin store must first download an app that gives them a QR code and then scan the code when they enter the store. (Source: Venture Beat)

Why this is important for your clients: Yes, there will still be some employees at these automated stores. But, by using mobile apps, QR codes, sensors and mobile payment technologies it’s possible for some stores to operate with a much lower overhead spend. Of course this doesn’t work in all industries, particularly those where — like clothing or technology — an expert is valued. But it’ll be interesting to see if Zippin and others able to operate profitably and grow.

10. Money is pouring into a robot-centered pizza startup. Founded in 2015, Zume Pizza of Mountain View, California, uses robotics and AI to make pizza more quickly. Machines press mounds of dough, squirt and spread sauce, and lift pizzas in and out of the oven, in a fraction of the time it takes human workers to do the same. Now Japan’s SoftBank is in talks to invest up to $750 million in Zume, which could help ramp up the pizza delivery company’s sideline venture, which is creating technology for others who want to get into the automated food truck business. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your clients: Automation is hitting the food industry in a big way, and now large venture capital and investment firms are pouring money into companies that are developing technologies that enable food to be processed, prepared, cooked and delivered faster and cheaper — whether in a restaurant or a food truck. Yes, that even means pizza.

Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.

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