This week, Facebook takes more SMBs into more advertising markets in more cities, while HyperOffice finally releases its “no geek required” suite of collaboration tools for business users.

SMBs Target More Cities With Facebook

Facebook (news, site) has just announced the expansion of its advertising program that will enable SMBs  not only to target more cities and towns across the US and outside, but will also enable them to target audiences more accurately.

Facebook: targeting more cities and more markets for SMBs

In the latest move to expand its performance advertising program, Facebook is offering what it says is “thousands” of new cities in its self-serve advertising tool. Typically, Facebook isn’t giving a full list of which cities have been added, but you can check out the cities in a given area by signing up.

Guesstimates around the web at the beginning of this year put Facebook 2009 revenues at between US$ 600 – US$ 700 million, indicating the value ‘local’ advertising has for the the company.

By expanding the number of targetable cities though, it should be able to increase that figure dramatically as well as give SMBs access to towns and cities that they have not be able to access to date.

HyperOffice Releases Collaboration Suite

You may remember just before Christmas that HyperOffice (news, site) announced that it had issued a beta of a completely new AJAX version of its collaboration suite for SMBs. At the time the company said it gave users a whole new bunch of tools that provide a viable alternative to other collaboration suites from the likes of Google Apps to Zoho.

Well that release has just come out of beta and is available for current and business customers of HyperOffice, with a more generally available solution for home users available soon.

And one thing you can’t say about HyperOffice is that they’re being modest about what they think they’ve achieved. They describe it as a “re-invigorated, super-charged, eye-candy, ease-enhanced . . .new version [that] brings a gorgeous re-done interface, new features, more robust existing features, and scores of subtle changes and enhancements across the suite.”

At the time of the beta release of this “no geeks required collaboration suite” (the marketing is so good we just had to repeat it!) they outlined some of the things we could expect. These included:

  • Online database
  • Centralized online project management
  • Secure online document management
  • Outlook synchronization
  • Secure email hosting mobile suite

If you’re interested you can check it out on their website.

Dell Simplifies SMB Data Backup

Dell (news, site) and Symantec (news, site) have announced they are collaborating to help SMBs protect increasing amounts of business-critical data by introducing a new disk-based backup and recovery solution.

Entitled the PowerVault DL2100 and powered by Symantec Backup Exec 2010, it enables users to deploy and manage backup and recovery tasks, and reduce backup costs compared to tape-based solutions.

According to figures that came with the announcement, the average SMB has experienced three outages within the past 12 months, with the leading causes being virus or hacker attacks, power outages or natural disasters. But only 23 percent of SMBs back up daily and an average SMB backs up only 60 percent of their company and customer data.

The solution also integrates with new archive options for Windows file systems and Exchange environments allowing SMBs to more efficiently manage their data lifecycles by setting automated retention periods to migrate older, less critical data over time to less expensive storage environments.

You can find out more about this on either companies’ websites.

Microsoft Drops SMB-market server

Microsoft (news, site) has announced that it is dropping its Essential Business Server (EBS) on June 30, a server designed specifically for the SMB and mid-market segment.

With support for up to 300 users, EBS filled a gap that had existed in Microsoft's SMB product portfolio, but the uptake on it wasn’t high enough to justify its use.

Microsoft said the decision was made because mid-size businesses are increasingly using management, virtualization and cloud computing to cut costs and boost efficiency. Because these features are already part of Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft System Center and the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), EBS has become redundant.

Microsoft insists that it's "fully committed" to SMBs, while a spokesperson said the decision "represents a natural market shift in midsize business' preferences toward creating their own IT solutions."

Idea2 launches cloud CRM

Cloud-based CRM solutions provider Idea2 has announced the general availability of its cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution for SMBs.

The company said Idea2 CRM solves implementation challenges such as technology isolation, lack of executive visibility and poor user adoption.

It organizes and synchronizes CRM with additional data assets such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Finance to create a unified customer view.

It offers users:

  • a unified view of all information and interactions related to a customer in a 'social CRM' format
  • a role-specific interface
  • an information dashboard
  • integrated customer support that extends online.

No pricing details have been disclosed.

Banks Need More Security

New research shows that cybercriminals are hacking into the online bank accounts of SMBs at an unprecedented rate but banks are still failing to take proactive steps to protect them.

Carried out by the Ponemon Institute and Guardian Analytics across 500 executives and owners of SMBs in the U.S the figures show:

  • 55% of businesses reported experiencing fraud with 58% enabled by online banking activities.
  • 80% of banks failed to catch fraud before funds were transferred.
  • In 87% of fraud attacks, the bank was unable to fully recover assets.
  • 57% of businesses were not compensated by their banks.

The report concludes that banks need to evolve their definition of reasonable security and proactively invest in technology to better protect their online banking customers.

At present, U.S. law allow banks to place the burden on business owners for keeping assets managed via online banking secure.