(This article originally appeared in Accounting Today)
1. Microsoft may launch Cloud PC service this summer
It was discovered this past month that Microsoft is potentially looking to roll out a Cloud PC platform in June or July of this year. The Cloud PC would allow Windows users to access their desktops remotely and use Microsoft Office and other software. Cloud PC would allow companies to provide their workers with the basics in terms of hardware and also handle their networks through the cloud. According to reports, this service will be sold as a part of Microsoft 365 at a flat price. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: There’s been a substantial growth in PC sales thanks to the pandemic and, despite the software industry’s push to move everything online, many people are still saving things locally. This may be due to lack of trust or simple laziness. Not only that, but many are still using local applications. I have a number of clients that use remote connectivity tools. Microsoft’s offering will compete against those, and if you’re a Microsoft user, it sounds like a service worthwhile looking at.
2. The PC market isn’t slowing down
Recent research from Gartner has revealed that the shipment of PCs has gone up by 32% in the first quarter of this year. While PC sales sharply declined during the same time in 2020, sales have gone up significantly during the first quarter of 2021, making this the quickest year-over-year growth since 2000, which is when Gartner started tracking the shipment of PCs. (Souce: Tech Radar)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: It’s not really businesses that’s contributing to the boom. According to the research, the majority of the growth is mainly due to schools and other educational organizations purchasing new devices due to hybrid or virtual learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But I’m expecting many of my clients to update and buy new laptops and desktops over the next few years, so I expect this trend will continue.
3. Microsoft Teams to add super-useful Zoom feature
Microsoft Teams recently shared that it will be introducing a popular feature from Zoom on its platform — the ability to quickly join a meeting through a digital code. (Source: Tech Radar)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Finally! I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found Teams to be more cumbersome than Zoom for meetings when outsiders are included. Within the last year, Zoom skyrocketed to popularity partly due to the fact that users were able to provide a code that would allow users to quickly join or start a video call. Thankfully, Teams will be adding this feature to its platform in order to make it simpler to join meetings. Although the feature is still in development, Microsoft anticipates that it will be introduced next month to mobile, desktop, and web users, allowing Teams users to enter meetings simply by punching in a code.
4. Hatch debuts SMB checking account product
Hatch — which provides banking solutions for small businesses — has introduced a business checking account platform for small and midsized businesses that will offer customers up to 5% in cash back at businesses such as restaurants, gas stations, and more. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The new feature will also provide up to $50 of overdraft coverage and not charge fees for insufficient funds. According to the announcement, Hatch developed the new product in an effort to help the 3.5 million businesses that have launched over the last year throughout the pandemic.
5. The 18 best tech podcasts
With the popular tech podcast “Reply All” being placed on a hiatus after two of its employees were accused of contributing to a discriminatory and racist workplace culture, writers at entertainment and media company Mashable shared their top podcasts listeners can subscribe to. The 18 podcasts cover a range of topics, focusing on women, Silicon Valley news, digital culture, contributions by and experiences of marginalized populations, and more. The full list can be found here. (Source: Mashable)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Many small-business owners ask me where to keep up on the latest technology that they need to know about for their companies. Of course, I always direct them to this column. But I also recommend a few technology podcasts and a few of them are on this list. Worth bookmarking and listening!
6. PayPal bringing crypto support to Venmo
According to a recent announcement, PayPal will extend its cryptocurrency support feature — initially launched early this year — to Venmo, a very popular payment service used by millions of very small businesses. (Source: ZDNet)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Venmo users in the United States will now be able to sell, hold and buy cryptocurrencies. In March, PayPal rolled out a new feature called Checkout with Crypto that provides customers with a way to sell crypto through PayPal — and now Venmo — in order to pay for certain purchases made online. The feature converts crypto into U.S. dollars during the checkout process with no added fees while providing a distinct conversion rate.
7. Manufacturing analytics platform lands $50M
Seeq, a Seattle-based startup that develops analytics software for industrial manufacturers. recently raised $50 million in funding. Seeq’s software helps manufacturers analyze and collect data by pulling information from instrument systems and sensors to answer equipment-specific questions. Seeq operates with both cloud and in-house data and has existing partnerships with Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. To date, the startup has raised $115 million. (Source: GeekWire)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Many of my clients are facing supply chain issues this year and one of ways to alleviate this issue is better demand planning and warehouse capacity utilization. Applications like Seeq can provide the kind of information that will help do this.
8. Yelp makes it easier to search for Asian-owned businesses
When logging into their Yelp for Business account, business owners will now be able to make changes to their current listing on the platform and select that they are Asian-owned. Users on the platform will then be able to specifically filter by the attribute. Yelp shared that, according to a recent report, searches on the platform for businesses that specifically are Asian-owned has gone up by 130% in the last two months. (Source: The Verge)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The social media review service has been regularly providing search help for minority-owned businesses and is stepping up its efforts to support the Asian community. If you’re an Asian-owned business I strongly suggest taking advantage of these features, as they can result in better listings and more revenues. While you’re at it, check out some other advice on using Yelp here.
9. E-grocer uses predictive AI
Grocery app Farmstead is turning to software using predictive AI in order to help its efficiency and efforts to keep the cost of goods down while keeping free delivery. The software focuses on last-mile logistics, packing and picking, and inventory in order to help predict what will happen in an effort to stay a step ahead of and control cost of goods. According to Farmstead, food waste for the company is below 5% — significantly below supermarket waste which falls between 30–35%. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The grocery store industry is undergoing a seriously disruptive period as giants like Amazon and other food chains are looking to automate services and make the experience faster and easier for customers. This is tough competition for smaller, independent grocery stores. But AI-driven software like Farmstead can help those same store owners operate their businesses much more efficiently.
10. Clubhouse teams with Stripe
Clubhouse, the invitation-only audio-chat iPhone app launched in April 2020, recently announced its partnership with Stripe in order to roll out Clubhouse Payments. The new feature will provide a way for all users to give money to speakers directly. In order to do this, users will simply go to the profile of a speaker, select the Send Money icon, and then detail the amount of money they are choosing to provide. Clubhouse added that 100% of the money will go to the chosen creator and that it will not get any money from the transaction. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Clubhouse has been exploding in popularity this year and, with this additional feature, the people dominating this platform — consultants, coaches, influencers and other entrepreneurs — can potentially turn their time into money. Clubhouse is a hot property, but business owners thinking of leveraging this platform should also consider competing services from the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.