Small Business Tech This Week: Self-Driving Boats and Twitter’s Better Tweets

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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 – Rolls-Royce unveils a cargo ship of the future that requires no onboard crew.

And you thought they just made fancy cars? Well, they do. But Rolls-Royce also makes engines and boats. And now…self-driving boats. According to Digital TrendsThe futuristic-looking vessels can be monitored remotely by a “captain” stationed at a base anywhere around the world, Oskar Levander, the company’s VP of marine innovation, explained recently at the Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium in Amsterdam.

 Why this is important for your business:

With all the fuss being made about self-driving cars and drones, we sometimes forget that so much of the world’s shipping happens on water. Look for innovative companies to take advantage of this future technology to eliminate unneeded personnel and keep overhead (and therefore your shipping costs) lower.

2 – A new startup builds artificial intelligence that automates all of a company’s accounting.

The company is called Smacc, and its platform, according to TechCrunch, works like this: Customers submit their receipts to Smacc, which turns them into a machine-readable format, encrypts them, then allocates them to an account. The platform gradually also self-learns, tracking invoices, sales and costs, as well as their liquidity. The system checks against some 64 data points, verifies the invoice, checking, for example, that the math adds up, and even if the VAT-ID and its issuer are correct. Once the system has already learned how to deal with the supplier on position levels, it will do it automatically. Over time – says the startup – it becomes better and better at automatically dealing and allocating the data.
Why this is important for your business:

For centuries, the mundane task of bookkeeping and accounting has been a critical (and sometimes expensive) process for businesses. And now we have companies like Smacc deploying AI to help us reduce that expense through automation. I predict this will be the first of many time-saving technologies that will benefit small businesses over the coming decade.

3 – Twitter’s Dashboard app enables businesses to find out what they should be tweeting.

Twitter wants you to be more effective. So the company has a new tool that will provide tweet ideas and suggestions catered to your business.

Why this is important for your business:

Many of my clients want to use Twitter, but wonder if it’s worth the time and effort. The more effective our tweets, the better our engagement with our community and, ultimately, the more leads we should be able to receive via the social media service. If you’re a Twitter-person, this is definitely a tool you want to use.

4 – A new laptop antenna could provide better connectivity and battery life.

The antenna, developed by scientists in the UK, could replace as many as five separate antennas you might find in your current notebook. Furthermore, it also reportedly requires less power than the conventional set ups, meaning it could lead not only to better connectivity for thin-and-light laptops, but also slightly longer battery life.
Why this is important for your business:

My entire business life, like many of my clients, revolves around weakening batteries and poor Internet connectivity. Show me a laptop that significantly improves both, and I’m sold.

5 – A new tool from Google may improve your ad results.

Google released new “My Activity” and “Ads Personalization” pages so that users can have more control over the kinds of ads they’re receiving.

Why this is important for your business:

At first, you may think, “oh no – this will decrease the number of people seeing my ads.” And in some respects, it will. But as more people use this tool, you’ll be able to better target your ads to eyeballs that are truly interested in what you have to offer. So wouldn’t you rather have your advertising reach 10 people who are definite buyers of your products rather than 1,000 who couldn’t care less?

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