Forbes

Google Adds New Features to Help Remote Workers, And Other Small Business Tech News

By March 7, 2021No Comments

(This article 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—Google Workspace is adding new features to help remote workers.   

Google recently added some new features to Google Workspace in order to help those working remotely collaborate and improve their workflows. Some of the new features include making a Workspace available for frontline workers and officially launching Google Assistant for Workspace— the company’s audio assistant— for all Workspace users. Additional features will also be available such as improvements to Google Meet video calls, time management features, status setting, and multi-lingual live captioning, to name a few. (Source: Silicon Republic)

Why this is important for your business:

Work From Anywhere is the biggest employment trend this year. As employees return to the workforce there will be an expectation that companies will offer WFA options as part of their core benefits. Smart companies will do this. They’ll also leverage tools like the ones provided by Google to help them better manage their remote employees.

2 —Microsoft Teams is planning virtual avatars.   

Microsoft Mesh is a new platform being developed by the tech giant to help anyone collaborate and share experiences virtually on different devices. Individuals using Mesh will be presented as virtual avatars from AltospaceVR, a social network that was acquired by Microsoft 4 years ago. Eventually the plan is to allow people to appear not as an avatar but as themselves virtually in a space. Initially, Microsoft showcased this technology collaborating through a Skype call modeling how a technician could assist someone in fixing wiring, opening up possibilities of how the technology can be used for remote work collaboration. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

This is still a few years away from mainstream use, but avatars, holograms…whatever you want to call them…will become commonplace in most offices as meetings will involve a growing number of remote employees, contractors, partners and customers.

3 — Square is now a bank.       

It was announced this past week that Square is now able to operate as a bank. After receiving FDIC approval in 2020, Square Financial Services will be operating as a subdivision of Square and is currently focusing on being able to give financing for sellers of Square in the United States. According to the fintech company— by bringing the capacity to do banking in-house— it will now be able to more effectively serve customers while developing additional financial tools for those who need them. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your business:

Square now joins a number of online bankers and financial services organizations providing funding to small businesses, thanks to the rise in fintech that enables them to do so. It’s great news for businesses needing capital, although buyer beware: interest rates are significantly higher than a traditional bank.

4 —This free cybersecurity tool is aiming to help smaller businesses stay safer online.

The National Cyber Security Centre is rolling out a new tool that will help small businesses by providing advice on how they can keep their networks safe from cybercrime and hackers. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

The tool known as the ‘Cyber Action Plan’— is an online service that is free of charge and was created to assist small businesses in staying safe against cyber criminals. Over the last year, cyber-attacks have gone up nearly a third, with almost half now reporting cyber-attacks or security breaches as compared to the year before.

5 — Delivery robots are gathering steam.  

Delivery robots have gained major traction over the last year with more and more people looking for contactless deliveries due to COVID-19. Postmates X is the robotics spinoff of the popular delivery startup acquired by Uber in 2020 and recently became its own company known as Serve Robotics. With nearly 50% of restaurant deliveries in the U.S. being located within walking distance, their technology negates the need for a car, making deliveries more accessible. The company shared that a major focus of the technology will be to assist restaurants in expanding their businesses by delivering to customers in a safe, reliable, and convenient way (Source: Tech Crunch and Pymnts)

Why this is important for your business:

It will be interesting to see how many restaurants and local retailers turn to robots to deliver their products. So many have pivoted because of the pandemic. Many restaurants have complained about delivery services, so maybe robots could be a solution…or at least be the driver behind a better relationship with those delivery services.

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