Xero’s Cloud Accounting Turns To AI …And Other Small Business Tech News This Week – Forbes

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Xero expands machine learning features for small businesses.

At Xerocon Brisbane 2018 this week, cloud accounting firm Xero announced new machine learning features for small businesses. Examples of the new offerings are a ‘files required’ feature, which allows advisers to identify and collect client documents in one place; a ‘more intuitive invoicing experience’ that uses machine learning to make it easier to invoice customers and speed up time to pay; and Xero email-to-bills, which expands on an existing machine learning feature for Xero bills, to extract and automatically populate details from any email PDF bill into Xero. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

Here comes artificial intelligence for small businesses.  No, you don’t have to worry about custom programming or coming up with applications.  Just wait for your accounting, customer relationship management and collaboration software providers – like Xero – to do it for you.  Then use these new features to automate and increase profits.

2 — The highest-paid truck drivers may be replaced by autonomous vehicles.

A new University of Pennsylvania study concludes that driver-less trucks could eliminate nearly 300,000 industry jobs over the next 25 years, including more than 80,000 of the highest-paying positions. As technology progresses, autonomous vehicles may replace about 51,000 drivers who earn nearly $70,000 a year carrying small freight for multiple customers, as well as 32,000 parcel drivers. Another 211,000 truckload jobs—where the driver’s entire vehicle is contracted out to a single customer—might also be eliminated. These positions currently pay between $47,000 and $54,000. (Source: Fox Business)

Why this is important for your business:

 

We keep hearing about driver-less cars from Uber, Google, Apple and others. But really…the money’s in the transport. As driver-less trucks become smarter and popular, look for highways lanes dedicated to them…and an entire industry transformed. This is good and bad news for many workers and small businesses who either rely on the trucking industry for business (bad news) or are currently paying a lot for freight (good news).

3 — Instagram is building a standalone app for shopping.

Instagram is working on a new standalone app dedicated to shopping. The app, which may be called IG Shopping, will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app. The app’s development is still ongoing, and it could be canceled before it is released. But sources familiar with its development say Instagram believes it is well positioned to make a major expansion into e-commerce. More than 25 million businesses already have Instagram accounts, and 2 million of them are advertisers. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

I’m a heavy Instagram user. I don’t post. But I follow many inappropriate (and hysterical) accounts generally recommended by my kids. And…I buy stuff there too. Instagram ads can be very persuasive and an IG buying platform may be a huge benefit to those businesses – who are relying more on the platform to sell their products.

4 — Goodbye Facebook? Why some small businesses are quitting the social network.

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced changes to the platform’s news feed product with content from ‘more posts from friends and family’ and ‘less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses,’ some publishers ranging from big businesses to solopreneur bloggers have been forced to post more content that they create personally, rather than sharing products or affiliate links—and they say this is hurting their businesses. For example, one Texas entrepreneur who owns two Facebook pages says the branded content policy ‘decreased my income from Facebook by 60 percent, overnight’. (Source: NBC News)

Why this is important for your business:

 

I’m not buying into this trend…yet.  There are 50+ million small business Facebook pages and too many of my clients use the platform to sell to and engage with their customers. Facebook is a giant audience and, unless I see a similar-sized competitor appear, I’m still telling my clients that if they want to sell B2C they need to be on Facebook.

5 — Samsung teases foldable smartphone launch for later this year.  

Samsung has said it plans to launch a foldable smartphone later this year. Samsung CEO DJ Koh hinted the device could be unveiled at Samsung’s developer conference in November, and he admitted that the mystery device had been ‘complicated’ to develop. Some have suggested that the company will launch a phone with a bendable display under the its Galaxy Note line. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

I wouldn’t buy this little device until version three or four. But once Samsung (and their inevitable copycat competitors) get foldable phones working and reliable our mobile experience will be forever changed.

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