The Microsoft Excel macro crackdown, yet another reason tech matters (retention!), no more free G Suite, and seven other developments in technology from this past month, and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.
1. Time to prepare for the Excel macro crackdown
Earlier last month, Microsoft announced its plans to pull back on the decision to automatically block macros in Excel documents. Initially, the company said that Excel files that contained macros would be blocked if downloaded from the internet. Microsoft still plans to move forward with blocking Excel documents with macros, but not in the immediate future. (Source: Computer World)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Susan Bradley at Computerworld says that now is the time to review your spreadsheets that include macros. “If you’ve downloaded any online and do not know where they came from, stop,” she writes. “You’ll want to check to ensure that they are not malicious by uploading the files to www.reverse.it or www.virustotal.com to see what the file contains.” Bradley says that “once you identify the Excel files with macros you want to use (but that you’ve haven’t personally developed), your next step is to ensure that each one of these Excel files do not have ‘mark of the web’ on them.”
2. Employees would consider quitting over work-provided tech
A recent survey of 10,000 IT professionals, office employees, and C-suite executives found that 49% of participants expressed their dissatisfaction with work-provided technology and 26% actually considered leaving their jobs due to their frustration. The study also found that 42% of employees have paid for technology out of their own pockets as a workaround to inadequate technology. (Source: Tech Republic)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: If you’re going to have people work from home — and I strongly suggest you incorporate this as a standard employee benefit for those who can — then you’re going to have to make some investments in good hardware and software for them to do their jobs. Another investment: security. You’ll likely have to employ an IT firm to monitor your remote employees and ensure that their routers and home networks are secure as well as running the most recent versions of their device’s operating systems.
3. Google phasing out free G Suite for small biz
Google has stopped offering its G Suite legacy free version to small businesses. As of June 27, Google transitioned existing subscribers to a paid Google Workspace account. The monthly rates for Google Workspace Business editions start at $6 and go up to $18 per month per user. This means that businesses with 300 users who previously took advantage of the free G Suite offering now must pay between $21,600 and $64,800 per year. (Source: Investopedia)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: I guess all good things must come to an end. Most of my clients are small businesses and don’t have 300 users. But regardless, G Suite is a powerful office collaboration platform and I think it’s worth the price.
4. 7 handy Excel features you may have missed
Sandy Writtenhouse of online technology magazine How-To-Geek recently summarized seven useful Microsoft Excel features that day-to-day users may have missed. (Source: How To Geek)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Loved this piece. Those features include Sparklines to help users create mini graphs within spreadsheet cells, Data Validation to help prevent incorrect data entries, the Status Bar to view and copy calculations without the use of formulas, and Flash Fill to make data entry more efficient. You can view the full list of features and descriptions here.
5. ChromeOS Flex gives new life to old Macbooks and PCs
ChromeOS was designed to revive computers that have been outdated. Google has announced that this program can be installed on either Macs or PCs just by simply downloading this feature. After many trial runs, anyone is now free to download this program. However, Google intends for schools and businesses to get the most use out of it. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: This looks like a great tool for cost-wary small businesses, especially nonprofits. ChromeOS could offer a longer life for these old devices and save on the expense of replacing them.
6. Twitter tests a co-tweeting feature
It’s been confirmed that Twitter is in the process of testing a co-tweet feature. The company’s social media consultant and mobile developer each recently posted a tweet as a test that displayed both usernames above the content, although the new feature is not formally available yet. If and when it officially rolls out, users will be able to send an invitation to “co-tweet” for other users to decline or accept. Accepted co-tweets will appear on both users’ timelines. (Source: Mashable)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: An interesting feature for small businesses active on Twitter. Some of the uses: joint announcements with partners, joint press releases, joint messages from senior execs about your company. I’m looking forward to trying this out.
7. Business profiles on Google can now set automated responses
This feature allows business profiles to set automated responses to specific questions, sort of like a chatbot on a website. Google has released this feature so that it eliminates the need for employees to go through and send individual responses. You can also add links to these automated responses so that customers can know where to go for more information. To enable this feature, you can go to “My business” in the Google web browser, click “Customer” then “Messages,” then click “Menu” and then “Message settings,” and then “Manage frequently asked questions.” (Source: Search Engine Journal)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: I love this story so much I wrote about it for my Forbes CRM column too. Check it out to see how what Google is doing is offering a “free” type of CRM function particularly for small businesses.
8. Guava raises millions for black small biz
Banking and networking platform Guava recently raised $2.4 million last month. The company’s focus is to eliminate the wealth gap for Black business owners compared to the largely white and male-dominated industry. Although economically black business owners are disproportionately affected, there have been more Black women who have become entrepreneurs in the last year than white men, according to a study by Harvard Business Review. (Source: Tech Crunch).
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Guava could be a good resource for Black-owned businesses looking for financing, or just a general banking relationship. It might be worth checking out.
9. These retailers are setting up shop in the Metaverse
A growing number of big-name retailers and organizations are buying space in the immersive, virtual world known as the Metaverse. These companies include JP Morgan, HSBC, Louis Vuitton, Samsung, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Burberry and Adidas. With approximately 50 online space providers for the Metaverse, companies can choose from various platforms including Somnium Space, Decentraland, Voxels, Horizon Worlds, and The Sandbox. (Source: BBC).
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The metaverse is real. Big companies are jumping in. Someday — and not too far in the future — you and your clients will also need to be setting up shop in this virtual world.
10. Google Maps adds features
Google Maps announced last month the addition of several new features for businesses to integrate with Google Maps, including the store location feature and new analytics. (Source: Search Engine Land)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The new features include an embedded Reserve feature that connects customers to several services and provides end-to-end appointment booking, a Store Locator embed feature that lets business owners efficiently roll out and update their store locator on their websites, and the Google Locator Plus feature, which enables businesses to efficiently import details of their business from their Google Business Profile. Google Maps is a very important way to generate traffic, and my advice is to invest some time to fully take advantage of these new tools.