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

1 — Google’s tenth messaging service will “unify” Gmail, Drive, and Hangouts Chat.

According to a report released this week, Google is in the process of creating its newest messaging app and the company’s development team is looking to combine the capabilities of multiple apps that the tech giant already provides into one. The report detailed that the new messaging app would combine the features from Hangouts Meet, Hangouts Chat, and Drive, but also include Gmail features. The report also detailed the newest app as a “mobile app” leaving out any mention of a desktop or Web version. This would be Google’s tenth app. (Source: ARS Technica)

Why this is important for your business:

It’s a welcome development. Why? Because many of my clients use Google apps but all these apps have grown on separate paths and the different options and versions have increasingly created confusion. It’s time for cleanup and consolidation. So let’s hope the tenth go-around is the best.

2 — RealityEngine’s AI could help small businesses overcome the data gap.

Software company RealityEngines.AI has launched a new service with the hopes of helping startups and both medium to large-sized companies transition into effectively using artificial intelligence. The autonomous AI generation service is looking to address the data gap that exists between small startups and giant tech corporations. (Source: The Next Web)Today In: Small Business

Why this is important for your business:

According to the company, organizations such as Facebook or Google can easily collect large amounts of data due to their size, while smaller companies struggle due to having a much smaller dataset to pull from. RealityEngines.AI plans to use synthetic data that it creates in order to increase the original dataset, giving smaller companies the opportunity to move toward adopting AI. “Customers pick a use-case and point to their data,” it’s website claims. “Our AI engine then creates a state-of-the-art deep learning system using the customer’s dataset, that can be used to generate predictions.”

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3 — The U.S. government increases the liability for online retailers to police counterfeit goods. 

A report released by The Department of Homeland Security detailed a plan to crack down on counterfeit goods sold online, particularly those sold through third-party online retailers and Amazon. The new recommendations will take a particularly close look at goods imported from China. While China will begin to penalize merchants who consistently sell counterfeit items, the United States will focus more heavily on sites and platforms such as and Amazon by holding the e-commerce platforms responsible for any counterfeit or fake items that are sold on their sites by third-party sellers. (Source: Chain Storage)

Why this is important for your business:

If you’re knowingly (or unknowingly) selling counterfeit goods on your site, or through other platforms like Amazon and Walmart, take this is a warning: you could be facing significant punishment. Time to double check your products and policies.

4 — Microsoft outlined its next wave of Dynamics 365 and its Power Platform features.

This past week, Microsoft disclosed some of the highlighted features it is anticipating to add to Dynamics 365 CRM and ERP, as well as its Power Platform during the first half of this year. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

Some of the features—which will significantly benefit small businesses—include several new Excel data-export functions to Dynamics 365 Marketing, in-depth emotion detection and conversation analysis for Sales Insights, and support data for its Common Data Service. Power Automate will also be getting new features to help enhance productivity. (My company, The Marks Group PC, is a Microsoft partner).

5— Antivirus vendors plan to support Windows 7 post EOL.

Despite Microsoft officially ceasing support for Windows 7 this past month, major antivirus software makers have announced that they intend to extend support for their products for now. While some exceptions exist, the majority of the antivirus vendors have verified that their software will still operate on Windows 7 until 2022. Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates (ESU) program will only allow current Enterprise customers to be eligible for Windows 7 security updates. (Source: Tech Radar)

Why this is important for your business:

Although appreciated I’m sure by many small business owners who haven’t upgraded their older PCs, relying on the major anti-virus software makers to protect your devices is not the best solution. The best solution is to move to Windows 10. Yes, my firm is a Microsoft partner, but we don’t sell Windows 10. But what I do know is that the best protection against malware and viruses is to run the most recent version of your device’s operating system, be it Windows, Mac OS or Android.