July 21, 2024


Think Differently

The Top 10 Business Technology Stories Of 2023

The Top 10 Business Technology Stories Of 2023

If you read this column, then you’re probably aware that I publish it – without fail – every Sunday morning throughout the year. It’s designed to point out five pieces of technology news during the week that specifically impacts business owners and managers and my reasons for why they’re important Here are the 10 stories I think are the most impactful from 2023.

1 – AI was a big story, but a lawyer’s mistake was even bigger.

Every big technology company touted its AI plans and offerings in 2023 and AI was one of the most discussed topics on corporate earning calls in just about every quarter. It’s all very exciting. But one AI story has some sobering takeaways. The New York Times reported on attorney Steven Schwartz, whose use of ChatGPT for a lawsuit backfired. To research some legal history – for a case involving a man who sought compensation from an airline after an injury – Schwartz utilized ChatGPT to prepare a legal brief that cited previous cases – all of which were fake. Realizing his error Schwartz pleaded with the judge stating that he was unaware the AI would provide bogus information as a result of his query. It did not turn out well. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your business:

The very important takeaway is that the hype around all these new super cool AI tools can be exciting and there’s no question that AI will be transformative. Some day. For now, as business owners and managers, we have to understand that we shouldn’t be entirely reliant on AI to replace humans. Yes, AI can be a great help. But in 2024 we must continue to proceed with caution.

2 – Big tech companies are investing heavily in AI, but true innovation will come from AI startups.

Joanna Glasner of Crunchbase reported on the significant increase in AI investments in just one year. By comparison, investments in US startups have dropped across sectors. Glasner noted that between 2018 and 2022 AI investments hovered at a certain level then suddenly spiked this year. The explanation includes the shrinking pool of investment dollars to new ventures, but it’s also because of AI spurring countless startups. (Source: Crunchbase)

Why this is important for your business:

Like all the other tech trends before it – from Web 1.0 to crypto – my bet is that billions will be wasted in bad investments or ideas that just didn’t work out. But there will be more than a few AI companies that will not only change the world but make enormous profits for their investors and create the next generation of Zuckerbergs, Musks and Andreessens. And they will likely create amazing tools that will help businesses of all sizes be more efficient and profitable.

3 – The “right to repair” movement is saving businesses big money and creating new businesses.

Apple announced in December an update to its Self Service Repair Program to “give users more transparency and autonomy to troubleshoot issues.” Tailored for those with efficient tech knowledge and troubleshooting capability, they can now access the Apple Diagnostics tool – available on Apple products in the US and Europe next year – that will give them the same level of expertise as an authorized Apple technician. The tool will also help the identify what part needs to be repaired as well as a testing function. (Source: Apple News)

Why this is important for your business:

It was only a few years ago that users were forced to send devices back to the manufacturers for repairs, which was more costly, inefficient and time-consuming. Thanks to a movement of influencers, 2023 saw more tech companies bending and allowing us the right to repair our own products which not only helps get things done faster but has opened up a cottage industry of small businesses performing this work.

4 – While big data breachers get the headlines, it’s small businesses owners who are suffering more.

In October, writer Phil Muncaster shared important data from the Identity Theft Resource Center, based on a study done of 551 business owners. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) said they were hit with a cyberattack last year. Curiously – as Muncaster points out – less than 30 percent follow best practices such as MFAs (multi-factor authentication). (Source: Infosecurity Magazine)

Why this is important for your business:

As I wrote previously: the majority of these breaches involve employee or customer data – which can be catastrophic not just financially – it also impacts customer trust as the respondents also shared. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency offers guidelines for small businesses on implementing cybersecurity protocols.

5 – Both Google and Microsoft are in the process of killing passwords.

It was reported throughout 2023 that logging in with a password is coming to an end on the Google network. The company is switching over to passkeys – a technology that utilizes biometrics (facial/print recognition) and PIN numbers – to simplify and speed up the sign-in process. (Source: TechRadar)

Why this is important for your business:

As I wrote in October, passkeys are phishing-proof and more secure in that they use cryptographics (coded information) that makes the hacker’s job much more difficult. Google has started the process with the ultimate goal of replacing password sign-ins with passkeys. They also noted passkeys are a welcome alternative and “spare people the headache of remembering all those numbers and special characters in passwords.” Microsoft and other tech companies are doing the same. Which means the end of the traditional password in the not-so-distant future.

6 – Finally! Apple will be supporting USB-C charger in iPhones.

Apple (finally) switched up the charging method for the new iPhone 15. Dating back to 2012, iPhones were charged with lightning ports. Now – as a result of a mandate approved by the EU – electronic devices will be powered with USB-C chargers to “reduce electronic waste” as stated in a 2022 press release. For longtime customers of the iPhone, it will be both an adjustment and a benefit as the USB-C can be used for other Apple devices. (Source: Fox Business)

Why this is important for your business:

Do I even need to say? For employees and business travelers forced to carry a bag full of charging paraphernalia, this change is finally a move to normalcy.

7 – Threads debuts and creates another channel for business engagement.

Back in July, the popular photo/video sharing platform Instagram released an app called Threads. Instagram’s iteration of X/Twitter, Threads has been assessed as a strong competitor prior to its launch because one if its leading advantages was that it could migrate users and their Instagram followers to seamlessly to the new platform. (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your business:

Will Zuckerberg defeat Musk? Since its launch, interest and engagement on Threads has cooled. But if Meta sticks with it, who knows? LinkedIn remains the place to be for those in the professional world, but I believe that every business owner – including me – should be keeping a close eye on the new Threads social platform. That’s because if Threads gains a solid, regular attraction and if our customers and community are embracing it, then it may become a target for our time.

8 – Microsoft is making migration to Windows 11 easier.

In May, Mark Hachman of PCWorld wrote a feature on Microsoft’s newest product – Restore Apps for Windows 11. Designed to simplify the process of transferring data from an old PC to a new one – Microsoft is removing the headache of finding a way to migrate your documents, applications and pictures – right down the arrangement of your icons on the desktop. Users will need to register with a Microsoft account to get full access Restore Apps features – and users have the option to deactivate on brand new PCs. (Source: PCWorld)

Why this is important for your business:

Many businesses will be migrating up from earlier versions of Microsoft Windows in 2024 and we all know what a potential headache it can be. My clients and others I know in the IT world have told me that this is a great tool to make this migration easier, which means saving money.

9 – IKEA is using a hundred drones in its warehouses.

The company confirmed that 100 drones are currently in operation to streamline inventory control and assist workers with certain tasks. The first drone was employed two years ago with 100 now operating in IKEA locations across Europe. “Introducing drones and other advanced tools – such as, for example, robots for picking up goods – is a genuine win-win for everybody,” Tolga Öncu – Head of Retail at Ingka Group (IKEA)– said about the technology that was developed in partnership with Verity–a company that specializes in warehouse drone systems. (Source: INGKA)

Why this is important for your business:

Drone technology isn’t just for the military or for game enthusiasts. It’s a growing tool for many businesses, particularly in construction, real estate and now…warehousing. Drones can count inventory, check for safety issues, monitor employee movements and – soon enough – use AI to gather information via video to help create a better flow of materials. The cost of drones are rapidly decreasing too, which means more small and mid sized businesses will be buying them.

10 – Boston Dynamics and others are introducing new robotic capabilities.

In January it was reported that Atlas – the most advanced humanoid robot in the world from Boston Dynamics – has new capabilities. Boston Dynamics recently designed a set of hands and – in a recent YouTube video – showed off Atlas doing physical work. Up to this point, the robot’s primary abilities included locomotive tasks such as walking. The recent version of Atlas has hands with grips to allow it to pick things up and perform tasks. (Source: ARS Technica).

Why this is important for your business:

Robotics are steaming ahead and their costs continue to decline. Boston Dynamics is one of the leaders but they’re not the only game in town. The construction industry, for example, is taking progressive steps with the help of AI to improve safety and cut back on manual labor. Thomas Insights reported on five key areas where artificial intelligence is in operation. Hadrian X – developed by the Australian technology firm FBR – is a bricklaying robot that has been documented to lay bricks every 45 seconds. Mechanical suits – called “exoskeletons” – are being developed for construction workers to increase their endurance and mobility. As AI matures so will robotics and that’s already having an impact on businesses, both big and small, who are struggling to find workers.