The last week has seen a lot of jostling for position in the SMB market with Microsoft targeting it with upgraded Dynamics and HP upgrading its partner channels. SaaS adoption is still an issue, while hosted CRM and ERP are the principal services SMBs are looking for.

Microsoft Makes Dynamic Appeal to SMBs

The Microsoft Convergence conference is always interesting, and this year is no different. One of the interesting announcements this year was that the upcoming release of its Dynamics CRM Online will integrate with on-premises Dynamics GP product, the mid-market business accounting software package.

The integration also offers new language support, portal accelerators and cloud-based developer tools for better business connectivity. Until 30 June, users of Microsoft Dynamics GP can buy a licence for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for US $19 per user, per month.

Outlining the road map for international availability, Microsoft announced that it is slated to expand the next release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to 32 global markets in the second half of 2010, including European markets.

It also disclosed that Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, a new end-to-end offering designed for mid-size specialty retailers, will be available in 16 countries on August 1 with additional countries to follow early next year.

HP Launches All-Out SMB Partner Offensive

Another conference this week that saw SMBs getting a lot of love was HP’s Americas Partner Conference during which the company outlined its strategy to increase its share of the SMB market, including a significant expansion of its SMB Elite program. Amongst the initiatives are:

  • An expanded HP SMB Elite program
  • A new Healthcare Elite program

The SMB Elite program expansion opens the door for partners to qualify for significant HP incentives with US $250,000 in annual revenue coming from SMB customers versus the current $500,000 annual commitment.

HP is also putting a lot of emphasis on the SMB and health care markets. By its own estimates, the U.S. SMB marketplace is roughly US$ 57 billion in annual IT spending, of which it controls roughly a 20 percent market share. The new SMB Elite program is designed to give more partners access to special pricing, market development funds, sales support.

SMBs Consider SaaS CRM, ERPs

More spending from the SMB sector is on the cards according to research done by Access Marketing International, which shows that investments in SaaS applications will jump 18% over the next five years.

Hardly breaking news. What is interesting though is that the projections are even more pronounced when contrasting CRM as SaaS vs CRM on-premise, with the SaaS version expected to grow 16% with on-premise spending reaming flat over the same period.

SaaS solutions are also expected to predominate in the ERP market as well with hosted ERP spending growing at 14% compared to the 4% growth forecasted for on-premise ERP.

AMI also predicts that SaaS investments will be boosted even further by US SMBs’ moving towards greater mobility and work at home. Currently, 39% of SBs and 84% of MBs have a mobile workforce.

Is Windows 7 Working For SMBs?

Microsoft (news, site) and ChangeBASE have gotten together to make it easier for SMBs to migrate to Windows 7 with a new compatibility testing tool that will assess if legacy applications can run on the Professional Edition.

The new online tool, which is free to download until July, is called AOK for Small and Mid-size Businesses (AOK4SMB) and will also automatically fix incompatibilities when upgrading to Windows 7 Professional. They can go to the website to upload applications for testing and remediation for free until the end of July.

The Windows 7 Compatibility Center will give a  view of the compatibility status of their hardware and software before they upgrade to Windows 7. They also can use Windows XP Mode, a feature of Windows 7 Professional (and Enterprise and Ultimate editions and above) to run legacy applications.

Microsoft offers its own application compatibility resource through the Microsoft Windows 7 Compatibility Center. However, this Web portal doesn't provide help for checking the compatibility of custom-built applications.

Salesforce Integrates SaaS Fax

Canadian-based MyFax, which provides internet fax technology has just integrated with Salesforce MyFax for AppExchange 2. This allows users to fax directly from Salesforce CRM (news, site) enabling them take data from Salesforce and securely fax documents from the desktop or the Salesforce CRM document library.

MyFax is a SaaS solution and works with all existing email accounts. It removes the need for a dedicated phone line and fax machine and costs US $10 month.

Through MyFaxCentral, MyFax’s web interface, customers can set account preferences, manage cover pages and view sent and received faxes in the fax archive. MyFax also includes administrative features such as assigning a billing code to an outbound fax and creating and managing additional user accounts.

New Protection For SMBs

Open source data backup vendor Zmanda, has just launched a major upgrade of its Amanda Enterprise Edition version 3.1 specifically with the intention of capturing the SMB market. Two of the most important upgrades to the product are the addition of network data management protocol (NDMP) and VMware Hypervisor support.

With the upgrade, users can take an image-level backup of the entire virtual machine from the Amanda server without the need to install client software on each individual virtual machine.

These features were previously only available in enterprise solutions at premium prices and taxing complexity but this upgrade puts in the reach of SMBs, Zmanda says, although it doesn’t offering pricing for it on its website.