The Five Biggest Things In Tech You Missed This Week: 12/5/15

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

1 – Analysts say that mobile phones saved this year’s Black Friday.

From Newsweek:  Over 36 percent of online sales this Black Friday came from mobile shopping, and that includes both smartphones and tablets, according to data provided by IBM. And for the first time in Black Friday history, more than half of all online shopping-related traffic, at 57.2 percent, came from both types of devices. Smartphones accounted for the lion’s share. Fifty-seven percent of all mobile sales came from smartphones, and overall, smartphones were used to shop nearly two times as much as last year.

Why this is important for your business:

Are you selling online?  Is your website mobile-optimized?  This is now essential – just look at the numbers.

2 – Microsoft’s new service makes app developers out of everyday employees.

From Computerworld:  Microsoft unveiled a new beta service that’s supposed to help ease that tension by allowing anyone to build an app — no software development experience required. PowerApps combines a cloud application backend with easy-to-use tools that make creating a mobile app a drag-and-drop affair. PowerApps applications can pull in information from a variety of data sources including Office 365, Dynamics, Google Drive, Workday and other services. Developers can also build connections for PowerApps in their own services if there isn’t a connector already available. 

Why this is important for your business:

Tools like this will enable your employees to build their own custom apps to get work done, retrieve data and be more productive without having to incur the expense of developers.  Watch for these types of tools to grow in popularity over the next few years.

3 – United Airlines is giving iPhones to its 6,000 customer service reps.

From Techcrunch: Apple has advanced its relationship with United after the airline announced plans to outfit its 6,000 or so customer service reps with the iPhone 6 Plus.  United, which says it operates close to 4,000 flights per day across over 350 airports on six continents, said its staff “told us they needed better tools to serve our customers, especially during severe weather and busier travel times.”

Why this is important for your business:

Both large and small companies are equipping their employees with mobile devices to help them better serve customers.  If you’re in retail, or any service business, you may want to make an investment in mobile this year.

4 – Facebook’s live-streaming feature isn’t just for famous people anymore.

From Mashable:  Facebook previously added live streaming to its Mentions app, which is limited to people with verified accounts. The feature, called “Live,” will begin to roll out to a “small percentage of people in the U.S.” who have iPhones. It’s not clear if, or when, Facebook plans to make it available more broadly, though the company often tests new features among small groups of users before releasing them to its entire user base.

Why this is important for your business:

Google Hangouts on Air, Meerkat, Periscope and now Facebook.  Live streaming is not just for fun, it’s good for business too.  Your customers (and prospective customers) may enjoy your streamed events – be it training, customer case studies, interviews or demonstrations.

5 – New sensors can detect smoldering cables before they catch alight.

From Gizmag:  A team of researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences have developed hybrid sensors that detect gases given off by overheated plastic cables before too much damage can occur.

Why this is important for your business:

Just another example of how the Internet of Things can be applied to solve practical (and important) issues.

 

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