Forbes

Alexa, Order Me A Pizza!…And Other Small Business Tech News

By February 18, 2020 No Comments

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Voice ordering will soon be impacting restaurants in a big way.

There are now 74.2 million Americans who use smart speakers, but only 7.9 percent of them have used them to buy food and beverage products. That’s going to change. Voice shopping is project to grow to reach $40 million in revenue by 2022. (Source: Street Fight Mag)

Why this is important for your business:

Steve Fredette, the co-founder of point of sale service provider Toast, writes that “in advance of this increase in adoption, restaurants will need to ensure they will be compatible with connected consumer devices. In order to keep up with the likes of Dunkin’, Denny’s and Domino’s, restaurants of all sizes need to optimize their tech stacks and diversify their strategies. As voice ordering gains ground as the next big idea in restaurant technology, industry players must consider investments and partnerships needed to integrate virtual voice-ordering assistants into their ordering apps and optimize menus for digital-first experiences.”

2 — Microsoft won’t force Office 365 business customers to use Bing after all.

Microsoft has announced this past week that they will be providing administrators the choice to install the extension for Microsoft Search in Bing onto their computers and other devices. This move is different from Microsoft’s initial declaration, where they shared they would be making Bing the default search engine for customers of Office 365 ProPlus. If Microsoft would have stuck with the original decision, all customers using Office 365 ProPlus in the U.S. and six other countries would have been forced to use Bing since it would have been the default search engine after February’s update would take place. The tech giant—however—decided against it after taking in feedback from users in the Microsoft community. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your business:

Businesses, just like individuals, don’t want to be forced into using a service that they don’t feel best suits them and unfortunately millions of business users of Office 365 may have been forced to use Bing as their default search engine. Sure, changing the default isn’t that difficult, but it would create additional admin time and potential confusion. It’s a good decision by Microsoft to leave well enough alone and allow its business users to choose what search engine works best for them.

3 — The number of ransomware attacks has grown, and they’re crippling cities and businesses.

According to newly released data, 205,280 businesses and organizations indicated that they fell victim to a ransomware attack in 2019, which is up 41% from 2018. Security companies have provided data showing that ransomware attacks have escalated in severity as compared to years ago when typically, only individuals fell victim and had to provide a couple of hundred dollars to get their information and files returned. Ransomware attacks have become so sophisticated that they are now capable of crippling businesses and cities across the United States. In the last part of 2019, the average ransom to get files returned was $84,116, nearly double of what it was earlier in the year. (Source: New York Times)

Why this is important for your business:

Ransomware continues to be a major security challenge for businesses, particularly small businesses that lack the resources to properly defend against it. But there are things you can do. Get training. Get anti-virus software. Get an online backup application. Most importantly, make sure you’re running the most recent versions of your operating systems. Doing that will go a long way towards helping you avoid being shut down by a ransomware attack.

4 —CRM watch list 2020 winners have been revealed.

Paul Greenberg—an author and expert focusing on Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) —announced on tech website ZDNet his picks for the CRMs to watch this year. Greenberg analyzes CRM systems based off of various criteria such as privacy, marketing, and corporate social responsibility, to name a few. Microsoft scored the highest for the financial statement category, which included multiple criteria and didn’t rely solely on revenue. Salesforce scored highest when it came to the quality and focus of their mission and vision and how well they define their vision and mission statements. For the outreach category, Salesforce came out on top for the larger program distinction, while Zoho won out in the single person distinction. All CRMs that were submitted are scored in several categories based on the impact they had during the previous year. (Source: ZDNet) (Disclosure: My company, The Marks Group PC, sells some of the above products).

Why this is important for your business:

Paul Greenberg’s annual “watch list” is required reading for any small business owner or manager looking to either replace their existing CRM system or buy one for the first time. Paul’s experience in the CRM industry is un-matched and his recommendations should be taken seriously.

5— Payments are powering small businesses’ mobile banking adoption.

Research published at the end of last year by J.D. Power revealed that there has been an 8 percent year-over-year increase in the portion of SMBs using their banks’ mobile banking apps, rising to 61 percent (compared to 53 percent in 2018.) The surge is speculated to have come from the desire that small business owners have to be able to access similar convenience and automated digital opportunities that they have access to in their own lives on a day-to-day basis. Being able to give and receive payments appears to be at the center of this growth, as small businesses owners can save time in their daily tasks by paying rent and utilities easily and also use their mobile apps to accept payments on-the-spot at a jobsite as well. (Source: Pymts)

Why this is important for your business:

It’s slow, but it’s happening: more and more businesses are biting the bullet, incurring the expense and moving towards more online and mobile payments. Less checks are being sent in lieu of electronic payments. Yes, doing this initially is time consuming, costly and disruptive. But once the transition has been made you’ll find your cash management (and projections) to be much improved.

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