An Employee Steals $10 Million From Microsoft…And Other Small Business Tech News

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

1 —A Microsoft engineer has been sentenced to nine years for stealing $10 million from Microsoft.     

Volodymyr Kvashuk— a former Microsoft software engineer—was recently sentenced to a term of nine years in prison after stealing over $10 million from the company’s online store in the form of store credit. Over the course of 2016 through 2018, the engineer was in charge of testing the online ordering process to help monitor and ensure all was operating properly. While the testing software prohibited physical shipments to testers, a loophole allowed for testers to buy gift cards virtually. Through the virtual purchases, Kvashuk stole enough to buy a $1.6 million home and a Tesla which cost $160,000. (Source: ARS Technica

Why this is important for your business:

Even the biggest companies with the best technologies can still get duped. Microsoft may not even miss the $10 million but employee theft like this could cripple a small business. I offered a few suggestions for protecting yoru business here.

2 — Apple unveiled its new M1 Apple Silicon-powered MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro.

This past week, Apple held an event to provide more information on its transition from Intel processors to its own ARM-based Apple Silicon processor and they revealed which machines will be first in line to receive the chip. With the transition primed to start by the end of this year and conclude by the end of 2022, the first new processor will be the Apple M1 and will combine memory, GPU, CPU along with additional elements into its 5nm chip. Apple’s MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro will be the first three Macs that will have the new M1 chip. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

Great new hardware coming soon from Apple. If your business uses these products you may want to delay purchasing until these new items become available.

3 —Mobile robot use cases are growing in construction as technology advances.   

Construction companies are utilizing mobile robots more frequently to do their heavy lifting. As technology continues to advance, the development and utilization of robots continues to rise when it comes to construction in order to improve safety conditions. (Source: For Construction Pros)

Why this is important for your business:

If you’re in the construction business, you should strongly consider this type of technology. Mobile robots are able to navigate difficult terrain and avoid obstacles that could prove to be difficult for large, bulky machines or human workers. Several big-name companies have announced partnerships with robotic corporations in order to improve things such as aerial mapping, mining, providing 3D views, and other cumbersome or potentially dangerous tasks.

4 — Google will now factor page speed and experience when ranking Search results from May 2021.  

Google has confirmed that—when they rank Search outcomes— they will begin to consider the speed of web pages along with additional metrics that detail experience users are having. Beginning in May of next year, visual stability, interactivity, and load time are going to be added to the way that Search results will be ranked by Google. Current elements such as HTTPS-security, safe-browsing, and mobile compatibility will continue to be factors in the way pages are ranked. (Source: 9 to 5 Google)

Why this is important for your business:

It’s a good time to get with your web designers and test your site. If you’re failing in any of the above metrics your web rankings – and your business – will suffer.

5— Artificial intelligence may be making you buy things.

Stores are starting to use software systems that are able to learn shopping patterns through AI in order to target shoppers with advertisements, coupons, or products on items they traditionally buy. Apps like Ubamarket permit customers to scan items for allergens and ingredients, make lists, and pay for their cart all with their mobile phone. AI systems such as the one used in the app are able to then track customer behaviors and even predict what they are likely to buy and when. German startup SO1—which provides an AI system for merchants and retailers—conducts similar tracking and targeting and found that customers were more likely to buy products suggested by AI even when discounts were 30% lower than a typical promotion. (Source: BBC)

Why this is important for your business:

Retailers – regardless of size – have to be considering these types of apps to help drive more sales from their customers. For now, the cost is pretty high. But that will change in the not-too-distant future and when it does, your competitors will be leveraging AI to entice their shoppers. So should you.

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