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Small Business Tech Roundup: Amazon Has More New Robots

By July 2, 2023July 11th, 2023No 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 — Amazon’s new robots are rolling out an automation revolution.

Will Knight of WIRED reported on his up-close experience with Amazon’s newest addition to its fulfillment department. Proteus — the robotic assistant now moving about several of Amazon’s fulfillment centers — is highly-advanced and “smart enough to distinguish people from inanimate objects,” Knight reports. Amazon continues to integrate highly adroit machinery with human workers shifting the distribution of labor to increase efficiency. Knight describes his first encounter with Proteus: “Playing a chipper tune…eyes that morph into heart shapes…” The robot is configured to make workers feel more receptive to the technology and maybe even “happy”. (Source: WIRED)

Why this is important for your business:

Amazon is doing what many small and mid-sized companies will be doing in a few years: deploying robots to operate their warehouses and production facilities in lieu of humans. The costs of this robotic automation continues to dramatically fall and a handful of my own clients are evaluating their ROI. This type of technology will be commonplace within the decade. In fact, great solutions are already being introduced like…

2 — Twin-robot bin-picker achieves ‘record’ 2,700 picks an hour.

The German-founded company Schmalz declared it has achieved a “record-braking” performance with robots they’ve been working with in a test application. The robots (known as “pickers”) were filmed at the company’s headquarters as they handled various items. They successfully placed them into crates at a sustained speed. The end result was 2700 picks per hour. The robots are programmed with algorithms that adjust their gripping mechanism based on the object. Schmalz has developed “kits” that optimizes ivOS — the operating system behind this demonstration. Kits provide “‘plug-and-work’ technology that can be integrated rapidly into any bin-picking application,” as detailed in the article. (Source: Drives & Controls)

Why this is important for your business:

See what I mean?

3 — Microsoft highlights impact of AI on small businesses in a new report.

Microsoft obtained some illuminating feedback from small business owners on the topic of AI. Its Small Business State of Mind report surveyed 1000 small business owners on their readiness and comprehension of AI (the sample included people of color and Gen Z demographics). (Source:

Why this is important for your business:

The results showed nearly half of small business owners understand the potential AI has to transform their business. But “mundane tasks” are hindering them from the focused time required to learn about the technology. The report also indicated data security is a major challenge with 43 percent lacking the resources to fortify their operation. Limited knowledge remains a critical stumbling block for small business owners aware of the steep learning curve they face as AI continues to evolve.

4 — Dropbox introduces Dropbox Dash, AI-powered Universal Search, and Dropbox AI for files.

The file sharing and storage service Dropbox has added new AI-powered features. (Source: Dropbox)

Why this is important for your business:

The company announced Dropbox Dash — a “universal search tool” where users will find their combined features and content in one place instead of having to access in separate locations. It will also include a “Stash” tool that will store URL links accumulated from searches where users can easily find and retrieve them. Dropbox AI will be supported by generative AI to answer questions or summarize specific content stored in Dropbox folders. The company has also established Dropbox Ventures — an initiative to support AI development and “commitment to applying AI responsibly” as stated on its website.

5 — JustPaid, an AI-powered finance company, launches tools for small businesses.

A new member of online payment systems has arrived. JustPaid — a new platform financially supported by Reddit’s and Dropbox co-founders among others — is an AI-enhanced platform for SMBs to receive and track payments, access data analytics, and “identify opportunities supported by AI,” the company’s press release detailed. “I wanted to build a tool to help companies manage their expenses and recognize their revenue,” co-founder Vinay Pinnaka said. (Source: Cision)

Why this is important for your business:

The company’s platform introduces rules-based payment plans for delinquent customers that’s available online or via mobile. You have a choice of simple options to provide with customers able to choose a preferred plan to “pick and pay.” The interface is friendly and professional and designed to not only minimize the time that your employees are spending on collections but also retaining relationships with your customers who may be temporarily facing financial challenges but could continue to be good payers in the future.

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