Apple’s New Customer Service Tools…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 — Apple has a new way for you to better serve your customers.

It’s called “Business Chat,” and it will be a part of the company’s popular iMessage app. Business Chat will help Apple compete against similar enterprise-related tools found on Facebook Messenger and Twitter. (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your business:

The app will enable your customers to “get answers the questions, resolve issues and complete transactions on their iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.”  The company also thinks it will give users a way to “start conversations from Safari, Maps, Spotlight, and Siri.”

2 — America’s IT sector is losing jobs for the first time in months.

According to new data from CompTIA, a nonprofit trade organization for the Information Technology industry, “computer and electronics manufacturing dropped 1,700 jobs last month, and telecommunications shed 1,100 jobs.” In addition, “IT and software services, and computer system design” lost 200 jobs. However, “positions were added in other IT areas, including service portals (with 1,800 new jobs added) and data processing, hosting and related services (with 1,000 new positions created),” which led to a net loss of only 200 jobs across the entire industry. (Source: TechRepublic)

Why this is important for your business:

If you’re running a technology business, you can see where the jobs in your industry are heading: less break/fix, more cloud and data. For the rest of us, the migration of jobs to cloud-based services means less resources for our on-premise systems in the future.

3 — A new recruitment platform will let your employees look for jobs anonymously.

The Israel-based startup Workey has officially launched its U.S. platform that “cloaks a user’s real identity to enable them to ‘passively’ investigate new opportunities without anyone (e.g. their current employer) finding out.” Once users connect their social networks to Workey and find out any possible connections to job matches, the companies would then “contact a potential candidate who can decide whether to reveal their full identity.” (Source: VentureBeat)

Why this is important for your business:

Workey recently raised $8 million in VC funding and is working with big names like Amazon and Oracle to help fill available positions.  It’s attractive for those that want to search anonymously and should be a consideration for your company’s employee search strategy.

4 — Y Combinator’s Startup School is coming back for another semester.

Earlier last month, I wrote about Y Combinator’s school for startups. Those entrepreneurial classes have apparently been so successful that president Sam Altman wants to accept 10,000 new companies into its Startup School by the beginning of 2018. (Source: Quartz)

Why this is important for your business:

The lucky startups chosen to join the school will use “custom-built software to collaborate, pore over their weekly metrics, and attend weekly mentoring sessions with YC alumni.” There will also be lectures given by employees and executives from WhatsApp, Facebook and Reddit that will be “taped and broadcast through Stanford’s CS 183F class ‘Startup School: The First 100 Days.’” What better resource for your new venture?

5 — A new robotic cabinet can transform a room in seconds.

In 2014, researchers at the MIT Media Lab designed a piece of furniture called the “CityHome” that could instantly be changed through hand gestures. This amazing cabinet is now known as the “Ori Systems” and will transform via a digital interface into “an office space, bedroom, and living room.” If users don’t feel like pushing any buttons, they can opt to use an app or can command the unit by voice through Amazon’s Alexa assistant. (Source: Fast Company)

Why this is important for your business:

The technology will have far-reaching capabilities not just for home decoration but to enable companies to allow their customers to transform equipment in order to perform other functions – all with the sound of their voice.