2016_JAN_ALL_TECHNOLOGY - Things small business owners need to know in tech this month

It looks like Amazon is going to make it easier for small businesses to move their products into the company’s logistics network. The company has become a freight forwarder in China. Amazon already owns fleets of trucks and drones, this is its first foray into the $350 billion shipping sector.


There has been a bunch of studies released recently that too much screen time before bed can mess with your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep.Many of us are guilty of madly doing a few last tasks on the iPad, laptop or mobile before bed – or mindlessly scrolling social media – so Apple is launching Night Shift, a feature which uses your device’s clock and location to figure out when the sunsets and automatically shift the display colors to warmer shades which are easier on the eyes. When you wake, the feature transitions back.


Tech which could decide the next US President. The US is in an election year which, asXero President, Russ Fujioka, pointed out recently in Entrepreneur: “many of the big influences on the US small business market will come from macro-economic conditions and technological changes”. TechRepublic reported this week that not even the US’s presidential run is immune from tech advances, it went as far as to list 4 technologies that will decide the next US president. The list includes cloud-based software, data and mobility.


Goldman Sachs reckons virtual reality is going to be bigger than TV in 10 years. In a research note, the investment banking firm said if the technology is rapidly adopted theVR market will generate $110 billion dollars compared to TVs $99 billion in a decade. But don’t think we’ll all be walking around with big bulky headsets on, as Business Insider reported, headsets will likely look more like a pair of sunglasses.


With such bold predictions, companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook are having strong cracks at the VR market. As Re/Code reported this week, the search giant has opened a new VR division to take on Facebook’s Oculus. Let the innovation battle begin.


What to look out for in tech this year. The start of the new year brings with it an opportunity for execs, the world over, to ponder what they wish to achieve in the next 12 months. Many also look closely at their industry to identify emerging trends to drive strategy. In technology, this year it’s all about artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality becoming mainstream. You can find a few other tech trends for 2016here. And in the small business world, Xero’s Russ Fujioka penned a few of his own thoughts on what to look out for this year, here.


The other trend you’re going to hear a lot about this year is security. As we conduct more of our lives online, we need to think about how we protect our own data from falling into the wrong hands. One way is to consider how you connect to the internet. There’s a great article on USA Today which explains how to use Wi-Fi safely. It outlines how to figure out if your connection is encrypted and why using a VPN can protect you from the Internet’s baddies.

General Motors is investing $500 million in ride hailing app Lyft to establish a fleet of driverless cars. As Wired reported, it’s a deal which shows the world how traditional companies and those trying to rock the boat, can work together to create an entirely new market which they can both play in. And, while we wait for those driverless cars to hit the streets, GM is setting up hubs around the US where Lyft drivers can rent cars for their shifts.


The UK really is the world’s center for financial technology innovation. It’sburgeoning tech sector raised £2.5 billion from venture capitalists in 2015. After gaining more than 100,000 UK-based cloud accounting users we’re really seeing the impact tech savvy communities are having on the country’s small business market. It’s a network effect – something we’ll be talking about at Xerocon London in February.


Say 10,000 whats? Twitter may soon ditch its 140-character limit and allow 10,000 character posts. Re/Code’s Kurt Wagner this week reported Twitter is looking at rolling out the new tool some time at the end of Q1 which would enable expanded Tweets. The company has been grappling with slower growth and lower user engagement levels and has been experimenting with a bunch of tactics to lure new users.

Alexandra Heber Xero

Xero is beautiful, easy to use online accounting software for small businesses and their advisors. Xero provides business owners with real-time visibility of their financial position in a way that’s simple, smart and secure. Xero has over 400,000 customers in more than 180 countries around the world and is listed on the NZX and ASX. Xero was ranked #1 by Forbes − World's Most Innovative Growth Companies 2014.