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Business Tech Roundup: A Free Trial For Microsoft Copilot

By June 30, 2024No Comments

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

1 — If you’re undecided on if Copilot Pro is for you, there’s a free trial to help you out.

Richard Devine of Windows Central alerted readers to Microsoft’s offer a one-month free trial of Copilot Pro, an AI assistant for Microsoft Office users. This trial allows potential users to explore features such as AI integration into Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote — as well as priority access to GPT-4 Turbo and 100 daily boosts for Microsoft Designer. To start the trial, users must set up a billing agreement but can cancel before the trial ends to avoid charges. This initiative aims to help users decide if Copilot Pro is worth the subscription fee. (Source: Windows Central)

Why this is important for your business:

Copilot — like other AI offerings — is in its infancy and not very good at the moment. All of my clients tell me this and I’ve been the victim of its shortcoming personally. But that aside, I still have confidence in its future and it’s important for companies to start understanding its capabilities. This free trial is perfect for that because who wants to pay for something inferior? I recommend signing up and testing it out.

2 — Shopify’s AI ‘Sidekick’ chatbot for merchants is now in early access.

Shopify has announced the launch of “Sidekick,” an AI-powered chatbot assistant designed to support merchants on their platform. This new tool will help users manage various tasks such as creating discounts, analyzing sales, and editing shop themes. The AI assistant will be accessible via a button on the Shopify interface. When clicked, a chat box is opened where merchants can input commands and queries​. There’s also a waitlist for those who want to try it out. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

As I’ve written previously, AI is still a big company game and the hot AI area is customer service, particularly chatbots. But, as also mentioned, this technology will ultimately trickle down to smaller businesses as larger software platforms develop more solutions. Shopify’s “Sidekick” is a perfect example of this. It’s probably not as great as what some companies are developing internally, but it’ll catch up and soon the smallest of e-merchants will be leveraging AI just like their bigger counterparts.

3 — Google automates lead credits for Local Services Ads.

Google is automating lead credits for Local Services Ads starting in July. This new system uses machine learning to review all leads and automatically credits invalid ones without manual disputes — typically within 30 days. (Source: Search Engine Land)

Why this is important for your business:

The change aims to save advertisers time, increase fairness, and improve lead quality. Manual disputes for lead credits will no longer be necessary (though exceptions include healthcare verticals and EMEA advertisers). Advertisers are encouraged to provide feedback to enhance future lead quality. I’m sure there will be some bumps in the road initially but ultimately this automation will save significant time and improve accuracy for local businesses advertising on Google.

4 — X will soon make live streaming a premium only feature.

X is planning to make live streaming a premium-only feature. This change will restrict live streaming capabilities to users who subscribe to X Premium, which starts at $3 per month for the Basic tier and goes up to $16 per month for the Premium+ tier. Reports indicate that this change is a move (in part) to control piracy and copyright infringements. This shift also makes X the only major social platform to charge for live streaming — a feature that remains free on competitors like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, and TikTok. (Source: Social Media Today)

Why this is important for your business:

I would like to see X charge for more services and ultimately turn their platform into a paid-only community. When people pay, they behave better. And we need much better behavior on X for it to truly become a legit place for businesses.

5 — A CDK cyberattack shuts down auto dealerships across the U.S.

CDK Global — a major software provider for auto dealerships — experienced a significant cyberattack that disrupted operations at thousands of dealerships across the U.S. and Canada. The attack led to a widespread system outage, affecting various dealership functions at approximately 15,000 locations. CDK Global has since managed to restore some core functionalities but continues to work on fully resolving the issue. (Source: CBS News)

Why this is important for your business:

Many industries — from auto dealerships to franchises to real estate to financial services firms — rely on shared systems provided by corporations that do everything from quoting to accounting. But unfortunately when that corporate system gets hacked, many unsuspecting users get affected, as evidenced by the CDK global attack this week. The only way to protect yourself is to have backups — not only of data but of documentation and procedures — so that your business can still operate even if your systems are down.

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