AI is everywhere, and other tech stories you may have missed

1. Square may soon offer small-biz checking and savings
Bloomberg shared last month that Square is preparing to roll out a checking and savings account option to their customers who own and run small businesses. According to the information, Square does not plan to charge overdraft, minimum balance, or service fees on the checking account. With its savings account, Square will offer an interest rate of 0.5% through this year. Small-business owners will be able to immediately have access to funds in their checking account from transactions conducted in Square. 
Why this is important for your firm and clients: The banking industry continues to be disrupted by payment providers like Square. This means more options for small businesses, along with lower transactional costs.

2. One-third of organizations are using AI: IBM survey 
According to a new study conducted by IBM, nearly a third of companies and organizations are using a variation of artificial intelligence, with 43% of participants sharing that their use was expedited due to the coronavirus pandemic. A third of survey participants also shared that they have plans to invest time and money in AI solutions and skills over the next year. AI was already on the rise even before the pandemic, with research conducted by NewVoiceMedia last year revealing that 25% of individuals preferred to have questions answered by automation or chatbot alternatives. (Source: Venture Beat)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: The fact is that your business is probably already using AI and you don’t even know it. That’s because your software providers are likely building this automation into your applications behind the scenes. However, it’s important that you reach out to those software providers and ask them what AI and automation they’re creating in their products both now and planned. Taking advantage of AI will help reduce your costs, increase productivity, better customer experience and improve profits.

3. Warehouses are looking to robots 
With the surging demand of online purchases, many businesses are turning to automated solutions such as robots to help meet the needs of supply chains, from frozen food to furniture. More and more machines are replacing human workers and pulling, organizing, and sorting goods in warehouses to speed up deliveries. Similarly, many operators are experimenting with testing equipment that workers can operate remotely, which would open up the labor market for employers to hire all over the country. Automation has become front and center as business owners share that they are struggling with hiring enough workers quickly enough to meet demands. (Source: WSJ)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Hmm … higher labor costs, more regulations, increased worker demands, administrative headaches. And that’s when you can actually find a good employee in this time of very tight labor! One of the answers is to replace people with machines and that’s exactly what’s happening all over the country.

4. Early access to earned wages
New York-based tech startup DailyPay allows users to have instant access to their paychecks, rather than having to wait for payday. The startup — which just raised $175 million in funding — already works with well-known names like Kroger and McDonald’s and operates somewhat like an ATM machine. DailyPay makes it so that employees are able to take out money that belongs to them, but at a small fee. Based on research shared by the startup, 53% of those seeking employment are searching for jobs that pay employees each day. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Same-day pay is a growing trend and needs to be taken seriously by small businesses. Technologies like DailyPay are making this benefit easier to implement and administer. On the one hand, having this benefit available could attract more employees in these days of tight labor. But there are definitely cash flow concerns that need to be addressed.

5. COVID-19 caused tech talent to scatter 
The pandemic has changed the way companies are working and has had an impact on which cities are considered to be tech hubs for young talent. Instead of places like Seattle, New York and San Francisco, recent graduates are setting their sights on cities such as Philadelphia, Houston and Miami. In fact, according to a survey by One America Works, almost half of workers in the tech industry moved during the pandemic, redistributing sought-after tech employees throughout the country and spreading startups, job opportunities, and wealth. (Source: Axios)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: The effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting and one of the most significant is the acceptance of using workers — particularly tech workers — wherever they are. That means that lower-cost cities like my hometown of Philadelphia can be a great place for workers to live, regardless of where their employer is located. Smart employers are beginning to recognize that geography may not be as important as lifestyle — and finding great workers is more important than where they actually live.
Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence by Mike MacKenzie is licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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