Skip to main content
Accounting Today

Python in Excel, and other tech stories you may have missed last month

By September 6, 2023No Comments

(This column originally appeared in Accounting Today)


1. Microsoft bringing Python to Excel

Python — a programming language that’s used for tasks such as website and software development — will soon be a feature of Excel, Microsoft has announced. Python can be added into Excel formulas on advanced spreadsheets. This feature will be available to Microsoft 365 customers in beta form on Excel desktop. Microsoft has been working in collaboration with Anaconda — the company that originally developed the programming language for data science — to evolve as a “steward for open-source projects.” The website includes a page that details how Python will interface with Excel. (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Python is a very popular programming language and by doing this, Microsoft is enabling those in its community who specialize in this language to use their skills for customizing and creating solutions in Excel. As a business owner, it expands your pool of available people to help you build more solutions for your company using Excel.

2. Google goes after DocuSign and Adobe

Google is now jumping into the e-signature field by launching a beta version of its “new-ish” electronic signing capability in Google Docs and Google Drive. (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: I view this as a major threat to both Docusign and Adobe, who lead the e-signature platform market. But some aren’t as concerned. According to TechCrunch’s Ron Miller: “It’s nothing fancy really. It’s just an electronic signature field that you can add to the document. Other capabilities expected to be added later this year could include an audit trail report to track signatures in Google Docs documents, the ability to deal with multiple signers and send documents to people outside the Google Workspace ecosystem, and finally, being able to grab an electronic signature in a PDF of the document.”

3. LegalZoom launches ‘LZ Books’ for small biz

LegalZoom — the company that offers resources and guidance for entrepreneurs — has released LZ Books, a tool to help business owners with taxes, send proposals, and automate accounts receivable. The company pointed to millions of solopreneurs who need help with filing and aims to lighten that load. Interested users can sign up now for a free month-long trial. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: It’s a crowded field, but this seems like another interesting bookkeeping software alternative to consider, particularly for clients who are freelancers. LegalZoom has been around for a while, so I have faith the product is reliable.

4. 10 best Chrome extensions for biz

Tech expert Andy Wolber of TechRepublic provided his list of the 10 best Google Chrome extensions for business tasks and it’s a useful read. (Source: TechRepublic)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Among Andy’s list are DocuSign (which organizes documents that require electronic signatures), Google Translate (a handy extension that will translate web pages in other languages) and NewsGuard (an app that will review and verify stories and information from various news organizations). I’ve already added a few of these extensions.

5. Zoom taps AI

Zoom — the communications platform used by nearly 13 million people each month — is working to further elevate its collaboration services with artificial intelligence technology. Announcements include “Zoom Scheduler” — a tool that will coordinate meetings and “simplify the process” of connecting with external participants. Using multicamera technology, meetings will run with seamless connectivity. Users can also enable “Zoom Clips” — a tool that will allow them to share specific video content easily with interactive “Comments” feature for recipients. These are just two examples of what Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has called “an aggressive road map aimed at empowering our customers to work smarter and to serve their customers better.” (Source: PYMNTS)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Zoom will forever be remembered as the iconic platform that enabled both individuals and businesses to stay in business and stay connected even at the height of a global pandemic. But the company faces plenty of competitors and it’s good to see that its leaders are not standing still. My business still relies on Zoom for our meetings and I’m happy to see these new features leveraging AI, which will keep me as a customer.

6. New insurance safeguards biz against data breaches

Business owners endure a great deal of stress and devote a lot of time and resources to protecting data — and cybersecurity insurance can alleviate the headache of contemplating the what-if’s. Keith Dmochowski of the Eagle Record reported on this issue that impacts SMBs as cyberattacks increase each year. (Source: Reading Eagle)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Structured like any other insurance, new forms of cybersecurity coverage will include different policies that will cover items such as data recovery, system repair, and customer notifications. Higher-tiered policies will cover things like potential lawsuits and regulatory fines. For the majority of businesses, cybersecurity insurance will be a given as the frequency and sophistication of these attacks continue.

7. Ignition aims to turn scope creep into profits

Ignition — an all-in-one platform for professional services — announced a new product called Instant Bill, which allows users to bill and retrieve payment for services — specifically those that are “ad-hoc” or “out of scope” — using a single process. (Source: Ignition)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Not getting paid for work done that’s over and above what you promised in a contract? With over 6 million payments processed through its system, Ignition is a player in the professional services business application market, and the company’s research found a high percentage of accountants in the U.S., U.K. and Australia aren’t paid for out-of-scope work. With this new feature the company hopes to increase revenue and cash flow for its clients while helping them to save time.

8. GoDaddy Studio adds AI-powered instant video

Website builder GoDaddy has announced Instant Video, which the company says will give entrepreneurs the ability to create high-quality video content with AI technology. It will also generate slogans based on the type of video content that’s created. (Source: GoDaddy)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: The company emphasized how this will give entrepreneurs an advantage in creating dynamic visual content without needing to be tech-savvy. “By using the latest technology, entrepreneurs will now be better equipped to maximize social media platforms’ algorithms, which favor videos, and increase engagement to grow their business,” Laka Sriram, GoDaddy’s vice president of product management, said.

9. RingCentral expands its AI platform

RingCentral — the company that offers cloud communication products and services — has announced its augmentation of AI for its latest feature called RingSense. Described as “a groundbreaking platform for enhanced business communications,” RingSense will allow companies to extract and utilize valuable insights from business calls. Features include live transcriptions, call summaries, and conversation analysis, giving users the ability to obtain useful data. (Source: MarTech Cube)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: AI is having a sweeping impact on all types of technologies and, considering the advances in voice transcription over the past few years, communication platforms like RingCentral – and others – will be offering lots of new innovative ways to do meetings and calls faster, as well as gauging emotions and sentiment, using AI.

10. PayPal launches dollar-backed stablecoin

PayPal announced that it will be adding cryptocurrency to its online payment system. PayPal will use a version of stablecoin and call it PayPalUSD. It will be dollar-backed, which means that it will be redeemable for U.S. dollars and accepted in transactional exchanges with other cryptocurrency. (Source: Reuters)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Small-business owners should keep an eye on this development, but not do anything in the short term. Crypto and digital currencies are absolutely real and will always be around. Having a digital currency that’s dollar-backed makes sense if you want to limit volatility and offer it as another payment option in your business. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the market and not enough clients of mine are asking for this option for now.

Skip to content