This Week’s Small Business Technology: Cars Made from Tequila? Sign Me Up!


(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 – Ford will soon be making cars with tequila.

Yes, you read right. According to this report, Ford has teamed up with tequila maker Jose Cuervo to “explore the use of agave plant byproduct to develop more sustainable bioplastics to employ in Ford vehicles.” The company’s aim is to create more durable parts while reducing weight, energy consumption and the use of petrochemicals.

Why this is important for your business:

No, you’re not going to be served mixed drinks by your car. But this technology is promising not just for the automobile industry but for all types of machinery and equipment that you’ll use in your business in the coming years. As Mr. McGuire once said in The Graduate, it’s “just one word…plastics.”

2 – Microsoft launches an appointment scheduling tool and “YouTube for the Enterprise.”

Microsoft continues to churn out the hits. This week, the software-maker launched Bookings, an online tool to help customers and employees schedule appointmentsfrom any device that can be shared organization-wide. The company also unveiled a powerful applicationcalled Stream that, you guessed it, enables the creation of internal corporate channels so that employees and groups can upload, share and live stream videos on any subject matter.
Why this is important for your business:

Both new tools are included in Microsoft Office 365 and if you’re like so many others, you will probably own them already. So if your organization is still only using Word or Excel, I strongly recommend a re-visit to this powerful platform and an investment in training. You’ll find many overlooked features that may help your people be more productive.

3 – A startup now offers the ability to tell you when your flight has been delayed (and can request compensation).

 According to this report, the service will connect to your email account and look for flight itineraries and receipts. If there’s an issue and there’s an email, then you’ll be able to use the application to automatically file a case. It will also monitor your flights and if there’s more than a significant delay or cancellation, it’ll start the claim process.

Why this is important for your business:

Isn’t artificial intelligence great? Robots may soon take over the world, but in the meantime, applications like this (and the chatbot that was used to automatically overturn 160,000 traffic violations) will make life and business much easier as more developers use AI to eliminate manual tasks.

4 – Google uses AI to reduce its power bill.

Speaking of artificial intelligence, it was reported this week that Google has been using AI to cut electricity at one of its data centers by “several percentage points” (translation: millions of dollars). Apparently, the software can suggest new sensors to improve effectiveness and identify inefficiencies.
Why this is important for your business:

Yet another real world application of AI technology in the workplace. Get ready for more.

5 – Twitter’s Periscope adds a powerful new feature.

It’s called Highlights and will give users “the SparkNotes version of whatever video they’re thinking about watching on the service.” It’s basically a-coming-soon-to-a-theatre-near-you trailer for your live streamed session.

Why this is important for your business:

Video is eating up the Internet, and businesses are embracing services like Periscope, Facebook Live and Google Hangouts On Air to deliver video content to their audience. But the big problem? You can’t tell if a streamed session is worth it. Now your users can get a preview of your content before potentially wasting their time. I predict a better experience for them and a better perception for your company.


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