(This article originally appeared in Accounting Today)
New hardware from Microsoft, crypto regs, and eight other developments that happened in technology this past month, and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.
1. Microsoft unveils four Surfaces and a new folding phone
Last month Microsoft revealed five Surface products, including a folding phone, tablet and a laptop. According to the announcement, the Surface Laptop Studio will replace the Surface Laptop, while the Surface Pro 8 will have a 13-inch display. Additionally, the Surface Duo 2 folding phone is anticipated to be a major improvement on last year’s unsuccessful Surface Duo 2 launch. With only 4% of Microsoft’s revenue coming from hardware, it’s predicted that the new devices will have a bigger impact in helping the launch of Windows 11, which was set for October 5, the same time that the phone and laptops were released. (Source: CNBC)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: I never thought Microsoft would be a player in the hardware business, yet alone delivering smartphones. But then again I never thought my last Windows update would complete either. But the fact is that the Surface really is a great laptop and very popular with many of my clients. These four adds should provide even more choices for small-business owners. And a folding phone? Tell me more … .
2. Coinbase to propose crypto regs
Coinbase is getting ready to pitch the idea of regulating cryptocurrencies to U.S. officials. The crypto exchange has plans to make the proposal public soon, although specifics of what the regulations would entail were not disclosed. The announcement was made shortly after Coinbase shared that it was stopping its plans to provide product for crypto lending. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, securities laws would be violated with such a product. (Source: Coin Desk)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: This comes on the heels of the Fed’s upcoming research examining the costs and benefits of a central bank digital currency. Crypto is for real, folks. If you’re running a small business, you’ll be accepting it routinely in the next few years.
3. Small biz cyber insurance up 7%
According to data collected by AdvisorSmith Solutions Inc., rates for small-business cyber insurance have gone up by 7% since the beginning of 2021. The same survey found that midsized and large business rates have gone up nearly 20%. It was estimated that small businesses that are put into the low-risk category and want $1 million in coverage typically pay an average of $1,589 for their cyber insurance premium. Experts are projecting those premiums will continue to grow well into next year as well. (Source: Property Casualty 360)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Cyber insurance has gone from being just an add-on to existing policies to taking a more prominent role in most companies as breaches and malware continue to increase and disrupt businesses. As demand builds, so do costs. It’s important to evaluate your cyber insurance along with business interruption coverages.
4. Workflow automation startup lands $12.3M
Daylight — the workflow automation tool formerly known as FormHero — shared in September that it raised $12.3 million in funding, bringing the total it has raised to $14.56 million. According to the announcement, the new funding will go toward helping expand its automation platform capabilities and go-to-market activity. (Source: Venture Beat)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The startup creates tools that both small and midsized companies can use, like automation software that lets businesses and organizations create digital workflows in order to negate inefficient, expensive, and complicated tasks.
5. Automated hiring software is rejecting millions
A recent report by Harvard Business School found that software programs that automatically scan resumes are part of the problem when it comes to the hiring system across the country. The study found that this kind of software, which is often used by employers looking for workers, frequently rejected millions of qualified candidates by mistake. While the specifics as to how and why automated software is accidentally rejecting applicants vary, it is suspected that the criteria that divide applicants from being “bad” or “good” is too simplified. (Source: The Verge)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Many larger companies are using AI to help evaluate job candidates. But this technology is far from perfect. Smaller companies should be watching and ultimately embracing these things because in the long term they will be beneficial. But to me it’s still early days, and this story proves the point.
6. Google unveils Supply Chain Twin Solution
Last month Google revealed its cloud-based initiative — Supply Chain Twin — that will assist companies in creating a digital duplicate, or “digital twin” of their actual supply chain. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: According to Google, the new offering will let companies organize their data to give a broad picture of inventories and suppliers, as well as events that could potentially impact supply chain movement and deliveries. Supply Chain Twin will let companies take information and consolidate it from various sources through sharing data with trusted partners and suppliers.
7. Square sellers can now use Cash App Pay
Square announced that Sellers will now be able to use Cash App Pay to accept payments. The announcement detailed that consumers will be able to make payments by scanning a QR code of a seller or selecting a button on their phone. Sellers who use Square can get access to Cash App Pay through a simple software update, rather than requiring any new hardware or additional technology. Merchants will also be able to organize receipts and other tasks when using Cash App Pay in Square. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Cash App Pay is a new contactless payment app from Square for online and offline transactions that competes with cash transfer apps like Venmo and Zelle. It’s a free app that’s been growing in popularity and Square’s integration will speed up transactions and allow for easier payments from mobile devices. The company says that Square sellers can access the new features as a software update and no new hardware is needed. It also lets merchants manage receipts, reconciliation and settlements of Cash App Pay within their Square system.
8. Smishing attacks up sevenfold in six months
According to recent data, the number of smishing scans — otherwise known as scam texts — sent to mobile customers in the U.K. has grown by nearly 700% during the first half of 2021 as compared to the last half of 2020. The data by the consumer affairs organization Which? detailed that — because of the pandemic — consumers relied more heavily on online services, putting them at a greater risk to fall victim to cyber criminals. (Source: Computer Weekly)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: “It’s far easier to block email phishing on corporate-owned PCs, but today’s remote workers are now using their personal devices to access corporate apps and data,” writes Phil Richards, the chief security officer at security software firm Ivanti. “And frankly, there’s just no easy way to verify the authenticity of URLs on smartphones, so users often just click and hope for the best.” To counter this threat, step up training for both yourself and your employees.
9. Amazon is developing a POS system
It’s called Project Santos and it’s Amazon’s play to take on Shopify, PayPal and other point of sale systems. According to a report that examined internal documents from the online giant, the system will handle both online and in-store transactions, provide enhanced analytics and (of course) integrate with Prime and other Amazon technologies for check out, security and delivery. (Source: Pymnts)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: If your clients are in retail this will be another point-of-sale option for them, and as long as they don’t mind being dragged further into Amazon World it could be a more affordable and advanced solution for managing their inventory and sales transactions both online and in their store. Also keep an eye on the company’s Just Walk Out cashier-less technologies, which utilizes AI, sensors, and computer vision as customers walk into the store and sign into an app, insert a debit card, take items from shelves, and leave, skipping the need to check out entirely.
10. Apple Wallet getting verifiable COVID-19 vaccine cards
Apple announced last month that Apple Wallet will be including verifiable COVID-19 vaccine cards as part of a future software update for the iPhone. The new feature will utilize the SMART Health Cards standard — which users can show by signing in with a unique key while providing a public key — to help show proof that a user received their vaccine. iOS 15 — which was recently released — currently allows users to keep verifiable test and vaccine results in the Health app. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: This may help you keep track of your vaccinated employees in accordance with President Biden’s new directives, which become effective soon. I’ll assume that Android won’t be too far behind.
Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.