Sweetgreen Will No Longer Accept Cash And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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Merry Christmas!

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

 1 – LinkedIn suffers a massive database breach.

The company, which was recently acquired by Microsoft, had its online education website Lynda breached, and 9.5 million users may have been affected. LinkedIn says that only “course data along with contact information” was potentially compromised. (Source: Forbes)

Why this is important for your business:

Most of us use LinkedIn as a professional networking and social media tool. This incident reminds us that no one site is impenetrable and to think twice about the kind of confidential information we may be storing online.

2 – Sweetgreen is officially going cashless next year.

The popular salad chain has announced that it will no longer be accepting cash in its 64 stores. “Cash has become such a smaller piece of our tender…when we opened nine years ago, it was 40%. Now, all stores are between 10% and 15%,” one of the cofounders said. The company has also noted that employees can perform “5% to 15% more transactions every hour when they don’t have to handle money.” (Source: Fast Company)

Why this is important for your business:

If your business is only accepting cash, then you’re a dinosaur, and competitors who accept credit cards will have an advantage. However, I’m not sure I agree with not accepting cash at all. For a smaller merchant in this competitive environment, giving your customers as many payment options as possible is your best strategy. Maybe there’s just a quicker way of doing things?

3  Researchers have developed peel-and-stick sensors to monitor smart devices.

Xerox-owned PARC is creating “sticky sensors,” or labels that can be attached and then peeled off of devices. The labels are embedded with sensors that will transmit data for monitoring and are powered by a radio-frequency technology instead of batteries so that they can be useful inside of buildings. (Source: VentureBeat)

Why this is important for your business:

The Internet of Things, even for smaller companies, is getting closer and closer. David Schwartz, project lead and manager of Energy Devices and Systems at PARC, told VentureBeat, “If you can measure the temperature in different parts of a building, you can operate the energy system more efficiently…but deploying sensors can be expensive. This idea lets you facilitate the deployment of the sensors, without the cost.” In addition, the sensors can be “applied throughout the facility and easily replaced or moved when necessary, allowing for a deeper and more accurate understanding of building environments than is currently available.”

4 – A free travel app can automatically check you into flights.

It’s called Pana, and it helps you organize your plans and sends you personalized trip alerts. Once you’ve connected your email to the service, it will piece together all of your travel plans and then create a live itinerary that can also be viewed offline. The big plus is that the app can automatically check you into flights. There’s a paid version for frequent travelers, too. (Source: TechCrunch)

Why this is important for your business:

If you’re a frequent traveler, Pana seems like a formidable competitor to services like TripIt or Google Trips.

5 – This chatbot will send gifts to your clients – in bulk!

If your company is using Slack, the popular messaging app, then there’s a cool bot that might improve your client relationships. Called “Eva bot,” you can send individual gifts or just upload a file of names and emails and indicate the type of gift (i.e. $30 or $50); include a generic message; and goodies like chocolates, wine or coffee are automatically sent. Eva bot is also not the only gift bot out there: “Dozens of retailers and businesses as varied as BuzzFeed and Time Inc. have created gift bots this holiday season to help consumers find the ideal gift while luring them inside their sales funnel.” (Source: VentureBeat)

Why this is important for your business:

Two reasons. For starters, if your company is a Slack user, you’ve got a great way to automatically send gifts to your favorite customers. More importantly, this bot demonstrates the power of artificial intelligence technology and also shows how we’re just scratching the surface of potential applications that these bots will be able to provide to your business in the years to come.

Gene Marks owns The Marks Group, a 10-person technology consulting firm and is also a small business expert, speaker and columnist at other major outlets.