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Now You Can Pay Your Bills With Alexa …And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

By November 3, 2019No Comments

(This post 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 — Amazon is tapping into bill payments with Alexa.

Amazon Pay users are going to be able to pay utility bills through Alexa in the near future according to an announcement made by Amazon last weekend. The new feature—as part of a partnership between Amazon and FinTEch firm Paymentus—will give users the choice of paying online or simply using their voice to pay through Alexa. Alexa will also be able to provide users with notifications for bill due dates, and users will be able to ask Alexa specific questions about their utility bills. PSE&G and Reliant are already offering the service. (Source: Pymnts)

Why this is important for your business:

OK, you can’t pay all your bills using Alexa. But can you see what’s ahead? Imagine where people in your company – with permission – can authorize bill payments using just a voice command. On the flip side, consider how much easier it will be to collect your open invoices if you give your customers the same options.

2 — Google is going to stop indexing Flash content.

Google has announced this past week that Adobe Flash content will no longer be indexed and ranked in its search engine. Later this year, content within Flash SWF files will stop being processed by Google, whether a website is fully developed in Flash or has Flash in pieces of the site. Once the change is made, Google Search is simply going to ignore content that is in Flash, as well as no longer indexing singular SWF files. More up-to-date forms of JavaScript and HTML5 are recommended by Google in place of Flash. (Source: Search Engine Land

Why this is important for your business:

This announcement continues the tech world’s assault on all-things Flash. Clearly, the technology is on its way out, and yet I frequently encounter clients’ websites that still use the feature. If you’re one of those people it’s time to make some changes, or you’ll be hurting your chances of customers finding you.

3 — Microsoft is furthering their $5 billion IoT plan with new Azure features.

Microsoft has introduced new Azure features and capabilities that—according to the tech giant—will help streamline and simplify customer experiences and help deliver Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a more secure way. Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Hub, Azure Maps, Azure Time Series Insights, and Azure Sphere will all be gaining new features that will help customers construct secure solutions that are streamlined and efficient, whether or not they are experienced or brand new when it comes to IoT. Over the next four years, Microsoft will allocate $5 billion toward their IoT pursuits over the next four years. (Source: Venture Beat)

Why this is important for your business:

In the coming years your business will be turning your shelves, trucks, pallets, assembly lines and many other assets in your business into smart assets and using IoT to deliver real time information, monitor activities and alert if problems are developing before they develop. Microsoft, like many other tech companies, are taking the lead in developing these solutions. (Note: my company The Marks Group PC is a Microsoft partner).

4 — Kabbage is stepping into SMB payment processing.

Kabbage—an alternative small business (SMB) lending company—is taking steps to assist the cash flow in small businesses. Kabbage Payments, —a new payment processing tool for SMBs—was announced by the company last week and promises quicker accounts receivable and invoice payments. (Source: Pymnts)

Why this is important for your business:

According to the company, this new tool will allow small businesses to create a one-of-a-kind URL to give to their customers which will contain a link that will allow payments through text, e-mail, or web, and will get rid of the practice of business owners having to create unique accounts for customers and the additional steps traditionally taken to process payments.

5 — Data breaches force 10% of small company victims out of business.

A new survey lead by the National Security Alliance, confirmed that cyberattacks remain the most profound danger for small businesses. According to the survey, 25% of businesses who face cyber-attacks file for bankruptcy and 10% end up completely going out of business. The survey—which included over 1,000 small business cybersecurity administrators—detailed that 88% of small businesses feel that they could easily become victims of a cyberattack even though only 46% feel that they are adequately prepared to handle such an event. The survey also revealed that 28% of the participants have faced a cyber-attack over the last year. (Source: Security Boulevard)

Why this is important for your business:

I feel like I’m writing about cybersecurity at least monthly and there’s a good reason why: just read above. So once again: update your security software, upgrade the operating systems on every device, get an online backup software and invest in some best practice training so that you and your employees can identify potential threats. None of these actions are guaranteed. But they’ll help a lot to make sure you’re not one of the 10 percent of small companies that are forced out of business due to a cyberattack.

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