Microsoft And LinkedIn Officially Tie The Knot 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 – Microsoft and LinkedIn are officially married.

The tech giant completed its roughly $26 billion acquisition of the social media company this week. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

Why this is important for your business:

LinkedIn is arguably the most popular social media platform among businesses and professionals. With access to that data, look for many Microsoft products, particularly Office 365 apps, to allow customers to quickly and easily view and integrate information that was previously not available to them. Will your Outlook contacts morph into LinkedIn contacts? Yes, they will. Will you be reminded in LinkedIn to upgrade Windows? Sadly, I’m expecting that, too. (My company, The Marks Group, is a Microsoft Partner.)

2 – Amazon has officially disrupted the grocery business.

The planned new brand of grocery and convenience store will launch in 2017 in Seattle and will be called Amazon Go. Amazon Go promises that customers will be able to take things off the shelf and pay for them automatically through their mobile app to avoid lines and reduce internal staff, all based on the latest technology that I’m sure will work just perfectly every time. (Source: Forbes)
Why this is important for your business:

If all this beacon, mobile, inventory, payment and Internet-of-Things works (and, as anyone knows, that’s a big if), Amazon Go will not only disrupt the grocery and convenience store business but also the entire retail industry. If you’re a merchant, this is the future, and you’ll need to be ready to provide the same level of quick, technology-based customer service to compete in the years to come.

3 – Small-business cloud platform Xero now integrates with Apple Pay.

If you’re not using a cloud-based accounting application, you will be. That’s where the industry is going. Xero currently has 862,000 subscribers (including some clients of my company which we serve), and now their customers can view and pay their invoices with Apple Pay through Stripe where Apple Pay is available. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

If you’re a Xero user or considering a cloud-based accounting application, you’ll want to make sure it’s a good, fast experience for your customers. Xero chief technology officer Craig Walker said that “attaching a payment option to online invoices helps Xero customers get paid almost 80 percent faster than invoices that don’t use a payment service.”

4 – Slack is joining with Google to take on Microsoft Teams.

Slack, the popular enterprise messaging service, is teaming up with Google to provide an enhanced set of features in the wake of Microsoft’s recent launch of its Microsoft Teams product. (Source: The Verge)
Why this is important for your business:

My prediction is that the majority of businesses, both small and large, will be standardizing on collaboration software to manage all their communications in one place, and the battle seems to be coming down to Slack vs. Microsoft (and maybe Facebook – see below). To up the game, Slack is now integrating with Google Drive, which will make its app “much more useful for completing tasks without having to jump in and out of different app windows.” This integration will enable users to get a more “detailed preview” of their Google Drive contents right within Slack.

5 – Oh, Slack and Microsoft? Facebook wants to join you, too!

Not to be outdone, the social media company has announced a new application to compete against Slack, Microsoft Teams and others in the collaboration space. (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your business:

Remember when Facebook was a place to share drunken photos with your friends? Now, it’s evolving into a powerful business platform and, with its new app, the company wants users to be able to integrate their CRM, file sharing, email, calendars and more with its service. According to the TechCrunch report, the app will work on top of Workplace, Facebook’s pay-per-user enterprise communication product and will be very customizable. The company hopes to be a formidable competitor to both Slack and Microsoft Teams for your business.