5 Things You Missed in Tech This Week – 4/16/16

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

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

1 – Bots!! Facebook FB -1.06% launches Messenger platform for bots.

From Forbes’ Parmy OlsonFacebook is opening up its Messenger app to host bots that can hold automated conversations with people on behalf of businesses and organizations. Its Messenger platform will over time be a place where businesses can offer customers service support and also take transactions, with the help of both human agents and artificial intelligence software, Mark Zuckerberg said at Facebook’s annual F8 conference for developers.

Why this is important for your business:

Look at how Facebook will be using bots. Per the article above: Zuckerberg introduced CNN as one of the platform’s early partners, which will use Messenger to send users a digest of news, similar in style to FORBES’ news bot on the messaging app Telegram or Quartz’s messaging-based news app which delivers the news in SMS -style snippets. E-commerce is another crucial way bots will be able to carry out tasks for businesses. Zuckerberg used another partner, 1-800-Flowers during a live demo, using his chat app to send Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus a bouquet of white roses.

2 – More Bots!! The company that brought you Talking Barbie will now help you make a chatbot.

From Fast CompanyNow, as chatbots—software programs that communicate with humans by using artificial intelligence—have proliferated, that’s something more and more companies want to do. To reflect a shift in strategy, ToyTalk has now changed its name to PullString; while it will still use its technology for toys, it will also market its authoring tool to other types of companies that want to chat with customers on platforms like Facebook or Slack .

Why this is important for your business:

Getting the message yet? The above two items demonstrate how chatbots are on the rise and will become a significant way that smart companies doing business online will be interacting with their customers and community. Look for other companies like PullString to emerge over the coming months offering tools and help to small businesses who want to take advantage of this trend.

3 – Wal-Mart expands its online grocery pickup to eight more cities.

From Fox Business: Wal-Mart Stores is expanding free curbside pickup of groceries into eight new cities this month including Kansas City and Austin as the retailer gains confidence it can make the strategy work on a larger scale. The expansion, which includes adding stores in markets where it already has a presence, will increase the number of stores with the service by a third to about 200 and widen its footprint to 30 cities,

Why this is important for your business:

Thanks to online and mobile technologies, delivery services are exploding and the retail giants like Walmart and Amazon are expanding their reach to homes across the country. For small retailers to compete you’ll need to consider your own delivery services. Depending on where you’re located, look into start-ups like UberRush and Deliv to fill that need for your company.

4 – Windows XP still powers 181 million computers two years after support has ended.

From PC World: Even though Microsoft retired Windows XP two years ago, an estimated 181 million PCs around the world ran the crippled operating system last month, according to data from a web metrics vendor. Windows XP exited public support on April 8, 2014, amid some panic on the part of corporations that had not yet purged their environments of the 2001 OS. Unless companies paid for custom support, their PCs running XP received no security updates after that date.

Why this is important for your business:

First of all, I know how you feel. Windows XP is arguably Microsoft’s best operating system. It’s stable and works well, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? Well you don’t what to hear this but…you have you to fix it. You’ve got a huge security vulnerability if you have even one Windows XP machine operational. And if data is breached, or a malware or ransomware application infects your network, then you’ll be facing costs many times over what it would be to to just replace the computer. So replace it. Now.

5 – The global “Smart Cities” market will double by 2020, according to a report.

From Read WriteAccording to a recently published report by Grand View Research, the global smart cities market will hit $1.4 trillion in 2020, nearly triple the global market size of $568 billion back in 2013. The main factors leading to this increase are the rapidly expanding population, speedy urbanization and industrialization. Smart cities are designed and built to cater to a plethora of challenges and issues – including water management, energy management, urban mobility, street lighting and safety of the citizens. Rapid growth is expected to occur in the smart city market, with an estimated annualized 13.6% rise each year between 2014 and 2020.

Why this is important for your business:

Looking for new opportunities in the next decade? There will be enormous demand for technologies that help smart cities deal with their exploding populations. Transportation. Clean energy. Communications. Security. As the report mentions, tech companies such as Honeywell, IBM, Oracle, Accenture, Cisco, Accenture, and Oracle are already developing technologies to meet this opportunity. And they’re always looking for partners.

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