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Business Tech Roundup: AI Voice Is Coming For Gmail

By January 28, 2024No Comments

(This column originally appeared in Forbes)


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

1 – Gmail: Google is reportedly adding an AI voice feature.

Drafting emails may soon be prompted by your voice in Gmail. Google Workspace Labs is a program where users can access and test the latest AI-powered tools and offer their feedback. “Help Me Write” is one the tools that can be activated in Google docs and Gmail where the AI will draft content based on certain prompts. The voice feature was discovered on the Gmail mobile app (documented in The SPAndroid blog) where the user tapped the help me write tab that opened a microphone prompt for voice recording. Google hasn’t made an official announcement but it’s an indicator of upcoming AI capabilities. (Source: Mashable)

Why this is important for your business:

If there’s one thing that separates boomers from younger generations is that we tend to talk into our phones when composing messages while younger generations type. I can’t explain this phenomenon because voice transcription has become so accurate and so much faster than typing but I’ll chalk that up to yet another way that we’re just smarter and more experienced! Perhaps being able to talk and use AI to compose better emails will be the tipping point for those younger folks. We’ll see.

2 – Novo Announces Novo Payroll for small businesses, powered by Check.

Novo – a platform that provides online business banking – has announced a payroll solution. Novo is partnering with payroll infrastructure company Check for “enabling small businesses to manage their finances from a single platform.” The Novo-Check linkage also “reduces administrative burdens but also ensures accuracy and compliance with regulatory standards,” as stated in the press release. Benefits include built-in accounting, single and multi-state payroll, and next-day payments. (Source: Business Wire)

Why this is important for your business:

For years I’ve been predicting (incorrectly) that banks will be buying up accounting software companies and providing a one-stop-shop for their customers. While I’m still waiting for that to happen, it’s encouraging to see more banks – like Novo – partner with accounting and payroll providers to integrate their banking with their recordkeeping and processing.

3 –26 billion records leak: Dropbox, LinkedIn, Twitter are named.

In cybersecurity news, a MOAB (Mother of All Breaches) incident was just discovered. Forbes reports that researchers from Security Discovery and CyberNews have indicated that “no less than 26 billion data records” have been leaked – which include records from LinkedIn, Twitter, Dropbox, and government organizations. There’s speculation that behind this massive attack is a data broker who could sell the data to other bad actors for sophisticated schemes or targeted attacks. It’s also believed the data was amassed from previous breaches. Researchers are urging the public to be hypervigilant. Adam Pilton, Cybersecurity Consultant at CyberSmart, recommends effective practices such as two-factor authentication. “This is a huge amount of data…we must take action to protect ourselves,” he said. (Source: Forbes)

Why this is important for your business:

If you haven’t received a security audit for your business then it should be a priority and if this news doesn’t wake you up I’m not sure what will. Talk to your IT firm.

4 – Humans are still cheaper than AI in the vast majority of jobs, MIT finds.

MIT recently published a study that concluded implementing AI in jobs performed by humans isn’t very cost-effective. As described by the publisher of the study, the research “critically examines the economic practicality of using AI for automating tasks in the workplace.” Researchers closely examined tasks that require the use of computer vision and found only 23 percent are economically viable for automation. Based on data collected from 1000 vision-related tasks in 800 occupations, only 3 percent met cost effective criteria. (Source: Bloomberg)

Why this is important for your business:

The study quotes Neil Thompson of MIT CSAIL who offers his summation: expectations/fears of an oncoming AI wave that will wipe out jobs doesn’t hold up based on these findings. I think that’s true…in the short term. But I am certain that AI will ultimately replace many jobs in the next decade, and create many others.

5 – Microsoft Teams is making to it easier to control your webcam and audio during a meeting.

Users will find a downward arrow on the toolbar next their camera or mic button. Once pushed “More video options” or “More audio options” links are activated. These same settings can be accessed through the “More actions” button on the toolbar. Users will find this as a welcome upgrade from having to navigate through several layers to adjust their mic and camera. (Link: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

Cool little perks to help you and your people use Teams better. If you’re not aware of this you’re probably not aware of a dozen other time-saving practices in Office. Consider training this year.

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