(This column originally appeared in Accounting Today)
The best accounting applications, printing QB checks gets easier, upgrades are coming to Teams, and seven other things that happened in technology this past month and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.
1. The best accounting apps for 2023
Accounting software — a vital tool to keep a small business running smoothly — can be challenging if the company is unsure of what best fits its needs. A new list has the best offerings this year. For example, Wave Accounting is at №5 with the benefit of managing multiple accounts and supporting multiple users, a definite advantage if you don’t want to be concerned with the number of individual accounts. And QuickBooks is ranked as the best software because of its across-the-board compatibility, integration of third-party apps, an easy-to-manage cloud-based mobile app, and overall performance. (Source: Small Business Trends)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: If you’re looking for accounting software this year — or helping a client — you’ll find this list is a helpful first step. Get lots of demos, involve a consultant and make sure it can grow with the business.
2. ChromeOS and Microsoft 365 to start playing nicer
Google recently reported that ChromeOS will include a new integration for Microsoft 365, which will make it simpler to install the app and include support for OneDrive. This integration will enable users to look for and locate OneDrive files similarly to how they retrieve local or stored files in Google Drive. (Source: ARS Technica)
Why this is important for your business: I think it’s my age, but for some reason I still can’t get over the hurdle of owning a device where just about all of my files must be stored online. I’m already doing that automatically using a couple of cloud-based storage services but there’s something about having local files that synchronize that I like. It’s just because I’m used to it. Anyway, I need to get over that. And the new integration between Chrome and 365 should help me. Maybe there truly is a Chromebook in my future.
3. Cyber insurance — a must-have for small biz
Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Small businesses must be equally aggressive in defending against ransomware. “You need security experts to respond in the most effective way possible,” Jason Rebholz, CISO at Corvus Insurance, said on the issue of increasing ransomware attacks. (Source: Info Security)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: According to the Info Security piece, although these security threats are escalating, in a 2021 survey CNBC showed that only a quarter of small businesses said they had cyber insurance. One solution currently on the market is Guardz — a company that services small businesses in defending against cyber threats. Dor Eisner, the company’s CEO, feels cyber insurance will be industry standard in the next decade.
4. Printing QuickBooks checks gets easier
EZ CheckPrinting software has a brand-new upgrade simplifying account management. The upgrade allows businesses to print checks from both QuickBooks and Quicken — with no set limit on the number of accounts checks are printed from. The company is also granting users a “test drive” to see how the software works as detailed on their website. EZCheckPrinting is compatible with previous versions of QuickBooks and Quicken — and starts at $49 to download the software. (Source: Benzinga)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Even though the use of online banking and electronic payments have significantly grown over the past few years, studies have shown that more than half of small businesses are still printing paper checks — a fact that I witness myself at clients. This product is one of a few that makes printing checks from QuickBooks an easier process. I haven’t tested it personally so make sure you get references and review others.
5. Sendinblue integrates with WhatsApp
Marketing service Sendinblue announced the addition of WhatsApp Business to its platform. (Source: SendinBlue Press Release)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: WhatsApp is one of the most widely used messaging and communications platforms in the world and Sendinblue’s new service should help users keep better in step with their customers. A company survey that found 40% of customers prefer to communicate with businesses through SMS/text. Mass text marketing platforms are growing in popularity — just be careful to ensure that your lists are opt-in and you’re targeting your messages to the right audience.
6. A new Microsoft Teams upgrade
Reported to have been “rebuilt from the ground up,” Microsoft’s collaboration platform aims to increase its performance significantly by reducing memory usage and extending battery life. (Source: Windows Central)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: The new version is said to have been an ongoing project at Microsoft “for years” but don’t worry — users will be able to revert to the older version if they choose. It was also reported that a Teams Premium is in the works that will utilize AI for certain features. If your firm is using the Teams platform, get ready for some big — and hopefully great — changes in the coming year.
7. An email-borne attack averages more than $1M
An alarming report released by Barracuda Networks Inc. showed that three-quarters of respondents have been hit by at least one email attack that resulted in extensive damage in the last year. (Source: PRNewswire)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Not only are companies investing big dollars in IT security, but these types of security breaches can cost far more — as much as $1million. The report also cited that one in four organizations increased their investments in security. Across industries it showed that financial institutions suffered the greatest loss of sensitive data, while health care businesses were most impacted by recovery costs. Companies continue to face the daily threat of attacks through email, as it’s “a trusted and ubiquitous communications channel, and that makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals,” Don MacLennan, senior vice president of email protection at Barracuda commented.
8. A foldable iPad as early as next year?
According to a supply-chain analyst, Apple could potentially develop a foldable iPad as soon as 2024. The release of the foldable model is expected to improve shipments and product variety. The same analyst also predicts that the foldable iPad will be released alongside an improved iPad Mini, with Apple potentially starting production for that model early next year. (Source: The Verge)
Why this is important for your business: Foldable devices aren’t new — Samsung has been selling these for a few years. But a foldable iPad could be a big seller and also open the door to an avalanche of similar products. These devices will save space and could be very helpful for remote employees or people on the road.
9. TikTok updates ‘Promote’ tools
TikTok is giving businesses a boost with a feature designedto increase visibility and potential followers of their platform — increased visits to its TikTok page where users can in turn boost their endorsements of selected businesses. First launched in the spring of 2021 the tool is designed to augment video clips and website visits, while giving businesses the ability to target relevant audiences to further promote their brand. (Source: Social Media Today)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Although this feature has been around for a while, many of my clients using TikTok are unaware of its power. This and other tools that TikTok offers can drive more visits to your TikTok page, get more messages from potential customers and target your audience by location
10. 5 ways robots help construction workers
The construction business is taking progressive steps with the help of artificial intelligence to improve safety and cut back on manual labor. Thomas Insights reported on five key areas where artificial intelligence is in operation. Hadrian X — developed by the Australian technology firm FBR — is a bricklaying robot that has been documented to lay bricks every 45 seconds. Mechanical suits called “exoskeletons” are being developed for construction workers to increase their endurance and mobility. The constant issue of safety is being enhanced by remote controlled machinery and on-site robots, programmed to patrol a site so workers can move about at a safe distance. Transportation and security are the other areas that are being transformed through AI technology. (Source: Thomas Insights)
Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Companies in the construction industry are having a difficult time finding workers and, like many other industries, managers there are turning to technology to help. These tools should be considered if your clients are in that business, for sure.