Alexa, Get Me A Latte…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

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

1 – Credit card theft keeps going up and up.

Didn’t the new chip cards put an end to this? Apparently not. A report from Javelin Strategy & Research has found that stolen card data rose 40 percent last year. The reason? Criminals are moving to ecommerce. “Right now the environment is more challenging than it’s ever been,” Al Pascual, research director and head of fraud and security at Javelin, told Bloomberg. “And things will get worse before they get better.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Why this is important for your business:

If you’re selling online, be aware of the tools used by criminals and work with a good IT security firm to make sure your customers’ transactions are as protected as much as they can be. Credit card firms will usually assume the liability, but a site with weak security will drive away customers. If that doesn’t work, call Batman.

2 – Cisco has launched a new gadget that will transform workplaces into digital buildings.

Called “The Cisco Catalyst Digital Buildings Series Switch,” the product will allow digital buildings to manage lighting, air conditioning, badge identification and other components through a secure and quiet system. (Source: VentureBeat)
Why this is important for your business:

In the coming years most buildings, big and small, will be equipped with this kind of technology, and the buildings that don’t will be less attractive to potential lessors. If you’re in real estate, this will be a required investment. If you’re looking for space, focus on the buildings that offer these features so you can save on energy and security costs.

3 – A British online grocer is developing a robot that won’t bruise bananas.

This new robotic arm will make packaging sensitive items safer and more efficient. The robot’s hand is “dexterous enough not to bruise bananas, crack eggs or fumble when it picks up a sack of citrus.” (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your business:

If your processes require sensitive handling, this arm may be applicable for other parts of your manufacturing and assembly as well. If you’re a grocer, the benefits seem obvious. Now if only we could teach it to change a baby’s diaper…

4 – Dropbox is pretty much now working anywhere.

The company just launched a new system that will allow for the collaboration of documents across both Macs and Windows desktops. Dropbox also released a Google Docs equivalent for sharing documents and presentations. (Source: Engadget)
Why this is important for your business:

I’m a huge fan of Dropbox, and my company uses the service to automatically sync, store and share files across the web. I’m not sure why any small business, even freelancers on the go, would not be using a tool like this and with these enhancements, Dropbox is now extremely competitive – if not ahead of – similar products like Microsoft One Drive or Google Drive.

5 – Starbucks launches voice ordering.

Oh, so that’s why the barista never gets my order right. I have to use my voice! Just kidding – Starbucks’ new voice ordering app is available on both the iPhone and Amazon’s Alexa, so now customers don’t have to exert the energy to actually type. The Android service will arrive later in 2017. (Source: Fortune Magazine)

Why this is important for your business:

Voice-ordering coffee on a smartphone or through Alexa isn’t going to change your business much. But when customers get used to placing their orders this way, they’re soon going to expect to be able to do the same at their other favorite retailers, merchants, restaurants and businesses….like yours. So watch carefully.