Tim Cook

6 things small business owners need to know in tech this week

1. Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone next week. There have been a bunch of leaks which lead us to suspect there will be a few new products and software updates, new iPhones, iPads, and other surprises. You can stream Monday’s keynote online here.

2. Good old customer service is even more important in online retail. Microsoft data, reported by Business Insider, suggests 66% of US consumers are willing to spend more money with a company that provides them with supreme customer service. More here.

3. Big data can figure out if you’re about to lose a customer.
Customer support softwareZendesk, this week released a new feature that helps companies predict and identify users most likely to leave their service. The early warning system called “Satisfaction Prediction,” uses machine learning to pinpoint customers who’ve had the most negative experience.

4. Google is working on some pretty radical tech that will let self-driving cars “see” more than humans can. To help predict what may happen at any given time on the road, the company is investing in a LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) system. It uses lasers to monitor objects around the vehicle and create a real-time map of what’s happening around it. More here.

5. All bets are in the cloud.
Google scored a win this week, landing Apple as a client on its cloud infrastructure service, the tech company also uses Amazon and Microsoft. You can see how the infrastructure providers are measuring up in the race to be the king of cloud providers here.

6. The rise of the on-demand worker is real. At over 53.7 million, the freelancing labor force is about the equivalent to a third of the total U.S. labor pool. A big driver recently has been the growth of Uber and Lyft. But Xero research found a majority of these workers don’t deduct work-related expenses, are confused by tax regulations and don’t reach out to professionals for help. Making it likely they’re not maximizing their take home income. More here.