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Microsoft’s Free Tool To Increase Your Productivity…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week


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

1 — Microsoft has a free tool to increase your productivity.   

Microsoft will now let Microsoft account (MSA) users try a lighter version of its productivity app Microsoft Lists for free. Lists is geared toward individual and small business use. The new version of the app aims to help show a straightforward and clear view of your main tasks in one location. The preview app used to only be available as part of a paid Microsoft 365 subscription. (Source: Tech Radar)

Why this is important for your business:

My company implements customer relationship management systems and so we have our clients use the tasks built into their system to share ongoing to-do’s with their teams. But Microsoft Lists is an easy way for very small businesses and individuals to keep track of open things to do and now that the application is free (and mobile) you might want to check it out as a productivity for you and your staff.

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2 —Amazon is raising the price of Prime.    

Amazon announced this past week that it plans to increase the price for Prime. The fee will go from $13 per month to $15 per month. The increase will go in to effect as of February 18th for new customers and for existing customers when they renew after March 25th. Amazon said that the price increase is due to its expansion of perks for Prime, transportation costs, and higher wages. (Source: Engadget)  

Why this is important for your business:

Quietly, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft and other cloud providers have been raising their monthly fees. This, to me, is the biggest problem with the cloud. It’s not security. It’s the software vendors’ ability to increase our costs at their will because we’re not about to go through the inconvenience of cancelling subscriptions. By the way – if you’re looking to get your subscription costs under control, try using TrueBill to find and cancel for you.

3 —How staff are tricking their bosses on Zoom with clever ruses to appear more domineering and busy online.        

According to new research, employees working remotely have started using clever tricks to make them appear busier than they are at home. Some of the tricks workers use include angling their laptop cameras to appear more authoritative in meetings and attending Zoom meetings while on an exercise bike to give the impression of being dynamic, healthy, and disciplined. 56 percent of survey participants have left meetings for non-existent meetings to try and look busy. (Source: Daily Mail)

Why this is important for your business:

Kids will be kids. Sad that some employees have to behave this way, which forces employers into imposing more onerous rules on the rest of their teams, regardless of how hard they’re working.  I guess this problem will be mitigated in the coming years as more employers will just replace their employees with automation. So if you’re an employee doing this and you think  you’re fooling your employer you better watch out. In the end, you’ll be the first one replaced.

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4 — Wrk has secured $43 million to help businesses automate common workflows.  

Wrk—a Canada-based startup—has raised $43.56 million. Wrk provides tools such as API integrations, bots, and RPA (robotic process automation) to help automate business processes. The company partners with clients to help them refine automations and only charges for the workflows when they are done. Wrk plans to use the most recent round of funding to continue growing its platform to fill the existing gap in the automation market and continue to redefine how companies work. (Source: Venture Beat)  

Why this is important for your business:

Speaking of automation, here’s a tool that may help your business get more tasks done quicker. Does it work with your current platform? Time to find out.

5— Small business travel platform TravelPerk has raised $115 million.    

Travel management company TravelPerk recently raised $115 million in funding. With corporate travel resuming, the company plans to grow its offering that focuses on small and medium-sized businesses. (Source: Pymnts)

Why this is important for your business:

I travel a lot and spend too much time arranging flights, hotels and cars. The funding will enable TravelPerk to help its business teams plan in-person meetings and expand its travel solutions. The company also plans to expand into new markets which includes the U.S.

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