HootSuite has been busy making lives easier with a number of new announcements over the month of August including a private beta of their HootSuite for Blackberry. For cloud service vendors, there’s also some good news on SMB adaptation of SaaS and hybrid systems.

HootSuite Prepares Blackberry

August was a busy month for HootSuite (news, site). Yesterday, it announced that it is the first and only social media dashboard in the Apps.Gov catalog and is now listed as a social media dashboard application for United States government agencies.

This means that HootSuite's Terms of Service have been amended to address a few specific requirements for US federal agencies. Now these agencies can use HootSuite without jumping through extra hoops, approval queues or application processes.

Recently it also released HootSuite for iPhone version 1.1.6 for both the Full and Lite versions. HootSuite allows you to send and schedule Twitter and Facebook updates from virtually anywhere plus manage campaigns, schedule updates and even translate messages to over 50 languages.

Available in Full version (US$ 2.99) and ad-supported Lite (free) versions, HootSuite for iPhone will help you spread messages, monitor conversations and track results -- all from your handset. Also HootSuite for iPhone is tightly integrated with HootSuite for web so you can quickly import accounts with help from a migration wizard to sync workflow.

And where there’s iPhone there’s Blackberry too. Last week, HootSuite and the other SMB favorite joined up in beta and are to go to general release soon. Running a private beta for a little over a month now, it comes with functions like support for multiple accounts and metrics.

The pilot batch of HootSuite for Blackberry beta users are testing the first iteration with more invites going out soon. It’s still not too late to be part of this beta so if you’re interested sign up!

GetResponse Releases SMB Form Builder

From mobile to email, GetResponse (news, site) which provides email marketing solutions for the SMB sector has just launched GetResponse Form Builder, enabling users to optimize their email campaigns by growing and segmenting their lists automatically.

Form Builder provides an easy way to build customized sign-up forms to attract subscribers, build email lists and capture critical profile data -- without requiring any special IT, HTML or design skills.

GetResponse Form Builder Highlights include:

  • 500+ designer templates
  • Visual drag and drop editor
  • Easy customization, powerful segmentation
  • Dynamic "thank-you" pages
  • Web form analytics

The GetResponse Form Builder is already available so if you want more on this check out the website.

Google Adds Priority Box to Gmail

Meanwhile, Google has also been busy making life easier for SMBs this week with the Priority Inbox, an experimental feature that sorts messages into three sections: “Important and unread,” “Starred,” and “Everything else”.

Priority Inbox targets the average corporate worker, who, according to an e-mail statistics report from The Radicati Group, sends and receives more than 150 messages per day.

Priority Inbox automatically categorizes messages as they arrive in your inbox. In order to do this, Gmail tracks which e-mails you open, which contacts you regularly exchange messages with, etc. Should Google make a mistake, you can adjust the rating manually with a new set of plus and minus buttons In the end.

Once the feature is available for your account, it will show up there.

SMBs Adapting to Hybrid SaaS

And back to the ongoing issue of whether SMBs are going to take to the cloud or not. According to the most recent research from IT market researchers Access Markets International in their SMB Cloud Services Practice report, there are roughly 750,000 (12%) small businesses and 20,000 (24%) medium businesses already using software as a service (SaaS).

However, looking at today’s SaaS users, 78% of SBs and 31% of MBs are leveraging a SaaS plus on-premise mix (or hybrid model), while approximately only a third of SaaS users are using an actual pure-SaaS product.

With an anticipated growth of up to US$ 95 billion in global SMB cloud-related spending by 2014, it isn’t a surprise to see over half of US SMBs looking into SaaS as a potential solution. Approximately one in five US SMBs plan to use SaaS. However, AMI believes that SMBs are easing into the concept of local plus cloud-based computing rather than leapfrogging into a pure-play platform. And the problem -- again nothing new here:

SMBs have their doubts, particularly around the security of a 3rd party hosting confidential numbers. But companies like Microsoft and IBM who provide a convergence of on-premise and SaaS are clearing these concerns for interested SMBs who are trying to maximize the combination of cloud and on-premise issues,” AMI Senior Associate Yedda Chew.

So a problem is identified and solutions are provided by companies like IBM and Microsoft. But by all accounts there is still a long way to go on this path.

SMB preferences for cloud-based application bundles, their price sensitivity and purchase channel preferences are further explored in AMI's upcoming Worldwide SMB Cloud Services Study. Research will be available later in 2010.