(This article originally appeared on Accounting Today)
A warning about crypto from the Fed, and nine other developments in technology from the past month, and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.
1. Intuit adding e-signature to QBO Advanced
Intuit recently announced that QuickBooks Online Advanced will now come with a DocuSign eSignature Connector. With the new integration, users will now have the ability to streamline sales while also automating processes such as estimations. The DocuSign feature will also help accountants stay up to date with the status or progress of documents thanks to real-time notifications. With the addition, Intuit aims to provide more efficient solutions for businesses continuing to work remotely. (Source: Accounting Today)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: What was the world like before e-signing? Oh, I remember. It was messy, fully of mistakes and overly time-consuming. I’m seeing most accounting and other business application providers partner with companies that provide electronic signatures like DocuSign andAdobeso that their customers can benefit from this much requested capability. If your system doesn’t have this, ask.
2. Small-biz owners haven’t given up on tech
According to recently released data by Software Advice and SCORE, small-business owners shared that new software that was brought on in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic helped increase company productivity by 47 percent and increased their sales by 45 percent. The data also revealed that 42 percent of business owners shared that their software helped reduce costs and improve customer engagement by 45 percent. According to the same data, 45 percent of business owners also plan to up their investment in technology this year. (Source: Yahoo Finance)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Gee, the cloud really works. That’s what I kept telling my clients years ago. But it took a pandemic to finally get them to act. Now we’re all benefitting.
3. Fed chief warns about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency risks
In March, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell shared his concerns and warnings of the dangers that come along with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Powell explained that, due to it being highly volatile, Bitcoin is not a realistic or useful way to pay, but more of an asset that, in some ways, is more comparable as a gold substitute rather than an exact substitute for the dollar. Powell added that the Federal Reserve is exploring potentially creating its own central bank with cryptocurrencies but that they are merely talking about policy and experimental technologies at this stage. (Source: The Hill)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Bitcoin is growing in value — and popularity. Payments giant PayPal is now accepting digital currencies like it and Tesla will sell you a car in exchange for it. It’s becoming less volatile, and more of an option for many customers looking to buy products — online and in-store. Will this be a form of payment you accept in the future?
4. Yahoo jumps into e-commerce fray
It was announced last month that Yahoo will be joining the e-commerce trend with its new marketplace called Yahoo Shops. The new marketplace will have a storefront that users can personalize and will also provide a short onboarding process where individuals can share their preferences and likes in order to be given an individualized “digital mall” containing products and brands that go along with what they are interested in. Although it is not live yet, users are allowed to sign up for Yahoo Shops in order to receive a notification when it launches. (Source: Retail Touchpoints)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: E-commerce is all about audience: Where are your customers? How can your products receive the most eyeballs? Of course, Amazon is the leader here. But getting your products in front of people is challenging there, as well as other online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy. Yahoo may be an opportunity for you to get in at the ground level and, even though there’s less traffic at first, you may still get more views … and sales.
5. Recruiting startup raised $65M
Seattle-based startup SeekOut recently raised $65 million in an effort to develop and grow its recruiting software as it works to take on LinkedIn and similar recruiting companies. The company’s software — known as “Talent 360” — is a ramped-up version of LinkedIn and is able to take information about potential candidates from GitHub and LinkedIn, as well as pull information from public data domains such as patents and research papers. The software also has the ability draw conclusions based on data such as whether a candidate already has a security clearance or not and includes diversity filters that are built in. (Source: GeekWire)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: SeekOut looks like a great application that businesses should consider as we recover from the pandemic recession and get back to hiring. Finding good staff in 2021 will be a top priority and I expect to see many more tools like this one available to assist employers.
6. Google Workspace adding new features for remote workers
Google recently added some new features to Google Workspace in order to help those working remotely collaborate and improve their workflows. Some of the new features include making a Workspace available for frontline workers and officially launching Google Assistant for Workspace — the company’s audio assistant — for all Workspace users. Additional features will also be available such as improvements to Google Meet video calls, time management features, status setting, and multilingual live captioning, to name a few. (Source: Silicon Republic)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: “Work from anywhere” is the biggest employment trend this year. As employees return to the workforce there will be an expectation that companies will offer WFA options as part of their core benefits. Smart companies will do this. They’ll also leverage tools like the ones provided by Google to help them better manage their remote employees.
7. Square is now a bank
It was announced last month that Square is now able to operate as a bank. After receiving FDIC approval in 2020, Square Financial Services will be operating as a subdivision of Square and is currently focusing on being able to give financing for sellers of Square in the United States. According to the fintech company, by bringing the capacity to do banking in-house, it will now be able to more effectively serve customers while developing additional financial tools for those who need them. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: Square now joins a number of online bankers and financial services organizations providing funding to small businesses, thanks to the rise in fintech that enables them to do so. It’s great news for businesses needing capital, although buyer beware: Interest rates are significantly higher than a traditional bank.
8. Dell’s 40-inch monitor is the best kind of excess
At $2,100, Dell’s new 40-inch ultrawide monitor is receiving positive reviews for its video quality, making it ideal for professionals in the video or audio editing space. Along with the immediately impressive bigger picture, the new monitor also boasts a sharper, 52K resolution along with more accurate and vivid colors as compared to its smaller counterparts. Although not ideal for webcasting or video conferences due to just how large the screen is, the monitor is preferred by professionals over gamers, with two HDMI 2.0 ports, Ethernet, a 3.5-millimeter audio jack, five USB Type A connections, and more. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients:$2,100 for just a monitor? Don’t roll your eyes. I see many of my clients in the engineering and design space shelling out this kind of money because having very large, crystal-clear displays helps their employees do their jobs better. When you’re dealing with very detailed sketches, plans and images having the very best visuals can make a big difference to the outcome.
9. Chrome’s real-time captions now on PC and Mac
After testing its Live Captions feature for desktop on Chrome since last year, Google recently announced that all computers using Chrome on PC will now be able to utilize the real-time captioning feature. After installing Version 89 of Chrome, users will be able to access a toggle to enable Live Captions, allowing them to see subtitles for all videos or audio that is played through Chrome. The feature will work even if audio is muted, although languages other than English are not yet recognized. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: A very useful feature. Besides the obvious benefits for the hearing impaired, your employees (and you) can leave these on to read while watching videos and not disturbing anyone else. You can also recommend to your own video audience to do the same.
10. GoDaddy launching Instagram integration for SMB users
GoDaddy shared that it will be launching a new product for Instagram in order to help users engage with and attract customers on various digital and social media platforms. GoDaddy has been making several updates to help small businesses re-engage and connect with customers they may have lost touch with or track of over the last year due to COVID-19. (Source: Street Fight Mag)
Why this is important for your firm and clients: According to GoDaddy, the newest integration with Instagram will allow businesses to more easily monitor, administer, and schedule using Instagram accounts. According to the report, the new integration will allow GoDaddy’s business users “to preview and post images directly to Instagram, as well as share products for sale within Instagram posts. They’ll also be able to keep track of Instagram comments and views and schedule posts for the future.”
Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.