These days businesses big or small must look to technology for new ways to do everything from deliver their products to offer incentives to clients and customers. News stories this week examine some of the latest technological advancements that may eventually offer new possibilities for businesses. Hopefully you’re watching these developments for ways to make your own business better.
For example, the first federally approved drone delivery took place recently, potentially offering a better method of eCommerce delivery. (Though this commercial drone delivery was not by Amazon, the eCommerce site that has been most vocal about its intentions to employ the devices.) In addition, payment technology business First Data acquired TWI in an effort to expand its digital gift card offerings. Read on for these headlines and more in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s the First Commercial Drone Delivery
The first federally-approved commercial drone delivery happened last week, although it didn’t involve any of the players you might expect. Back in 2013, Amazon first announced plans to begin commercial drone delivery. This was followed a short time later by news that UPS might have similar plans. But it was the small Australian start-up Flirtey that was first in flight over U.S.
First Data Acquires TWI to Broaden Digital Gift Card Offerings
First Data, a global leader in payment technologies, has gone into the gift card business. The company announced recently it had acquired TWI, (Transaction Wireless Inc.) a digital gift card pioneer. This deal follows First Data’s acquisition of Gyft, a digital platform that lets consumers buy, send, reload, manage and redeem digital gift cards using their mobile devices.
PayPal Spinoff from eBay is Now Complete
The long awaited PayPal spinoff from eBay was completed this week. eBay announced its plans to spin off PayPal as an independent business late in 2014. eBay is refining and re-balancing its various business arms by separating from PayPal. eBay is also selling its eBay Enterprise unit. Another part of the deal has PayPal returning as a publicly traded company.
The IRS Says Freelance Economy is on the Rise, the BLS Disagrees
Data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reveal that self-employment is on the rise and has been growing since the late 1990s. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures indicate that self-employment has been flat over the same period. The tax authority’s numbers show that the number of individual income tax returns that took the self-employment tax deduction rose by 35.
DOL Claims Small Businesses May Still be Misclassifying Employees
U.S. businesses are increasingly misclassifying employees as independent contractors rather than employees, claims the Department of Labor. A new Administrator’s Interpretation from the DOL is sending ripples of concern through the business community.
Small Biz Spotlight
Spotlight: Shadow Consolidates Online Reviews in One Place
If you need to learn about a new company or product, there are plenty of online resources for reviews and other information. You can go to review sites like Yelp, social networks like Facebook or even specific blogs or websites for more specific testimonials. But if you don’t want to do all of that research, there’s Shadow.com.
Retrace Your Steps with Your Timeline from Google Maps
People have been using the North Star, sextants, compasses and maps to find our place on the planet for centuries. With the introduction of smartphones, the GPS unit in the device has been used to pinpoint your location with greater accuracy, along with additional information about where you are.
Microsoft Garage Launches Send, a Text Message-Like Email App
Email can be an essential part of business communication. But it can be frustrating when you just want to fire off a quick message to a coworker from your phone and have to mess around with subject lines and the like.
HP Says EliteBook is Thinnest, Lightest Notebook of its Kind
HP recently unveiled what it describes as “the industry’s thinnest and lightest business-class notebooks,” namely, two new HP EliteBook Folio 1020 models. Both devices were recently introduced on the official HP website. The HP EliteBook 1020 and the HP EliteBook 1020 Special Edition are both ultra-thin at 15.7 mm.
The New Pebble Time Smartwatch is Finally Here
After breaking Kickstarter records earlier this year with its crowdfunded smartwatch campaign, Pebble says it’s ready to begin shipping pre-orders of the new Pebble Time smartwatch this week. Pebble, the company that launched the smartwatch revolution, announced a new version of the iconic device last year.
Samsung Unveils New Thin Galaxy Tab S2
Samsung announced on Monday the global launch of its new Galaxy Tab S2. Claiming to have the “thinnest and lightest metal tablet frame of its size on the market”, the Galaxy Tab S2 promises easy portability and superior viewing. The Galaxy Tab S2 will come in two versions. The 9.7-inch option or the smaller 8-inch will both measure just 5.6mm in thickness.