Only a couple of weeks after it went after local business dollars, Google is back with new tools for SMBs. And yes, a new study shows that SMBs are much more aggressive about taking on new technology than their larger counter parts.

Google Gets Cozy With SBA

Only a couple of weeks after Google announced that it was rebranding its Local Business Center to make it more appealing to small businesses, it has announced that it is teaming up with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to produce a new set of online resources for SMBs.

For those not familiar with SBA, it is an independent federal agency to protect the interests of small business, and Google has been doing a lot recently to ingratiate itself with companies operating in this space.

This new initiative --Tools for Online Success -- features tutorials, video testimonials and tips from savvy small business people who have leveraged the web to become more efficient, more cost-effective and more successful.

The goal is to ensure small businesses reach new markets and customers so they can continue to create jobs, the SBA says, while Google has said absolutely nothing about Google Docs or Apps, although it’s a given that they’ll be there somewhere.

John Hanke, vice president of product management at Google, at the launch yesterday, noted that “. . . people are turning to online to find information about their local places” with “ . . .more people . . . using online rather than a phone book or printed resource to get that sort of information."

Sounds very much like the line Google took at the launch of the rebranded Local Business Center under the new name Google Places. And why not? Google Places targeted local dollars by enabling local businesses to promote themselves more effectively on Google, while this initiative will make sure that the tools businesses use to go online in the first place are likely to be Google tools.

Aggressive SMBs And IT

SMBs in the US are increasingly relying on new information technology (IT) solutions to strengthen their operational, marketing and customer engagement activities, according to a new study released by CompTIA, a global IT industry trade association.

CompTIA’s Second Annual SMB Technology Adoption Trends study shows a significant majority of U.S. SMBs (80%) are looking for technology solutions that “deliver immediate payback in terms of minimum disruption of business continuity and seamless integration with existing solutions.”

Additionally, 71 percent of SMBs -- businesses with 10 to 499 employees -- say they are willing to pay a premium for new solutions with a proven return on investment.

The study also identified IT solutions SMBs are considering including:

  • Virtualization: 37 percent of SMBs plan to invest within the next year.
  • Unified communications: 25% to adopt a voice-over-IP solution this year.
  • Managed services: Expected 200% - 300% growth in SMBs using managed services this year.
  • Open source applications: Nearly 20% plan to begin using open source software.
  • Mobility upgrades: 45% to give remote access to company networks.
  • Customer focus: 53% intend to upgrade their web presence.

The study was fielded via an online survey to more than 400 executives in US SMBs in February 2010. The survey reached businesses in key vertical markets including manufacturing, finance and insurance, healthcare, government and professional services. The full report is available at no cost to CompTIA members or by contacting them.

SAP Enhances Business Suite

SAP has announced that it has enhanced its SMB business suite Business ByDesign by adding a number of new components, but has left it to its new partners to do the work.

Eleven new partners have developed complementary solutions for SAP's (news, site) fully integrated on-demand solution including eCommerce, credit card processing, shipping services, telephony and mobility integration, data exchange in the export business and commodity catalogue content.

Available for the current version of SAP Business ByDesign, these solutions complement those available for the previous feature pack.

The complementary partner offerings increase the versatility of SAP Business ByDesign and supplement the solution's ability to improve and automate key business processes for SMBs.

Meanwhile, SAP has also announced that it has finally launched its Business Objects BI OnDemand product in Australia, and that it won’t be launching its ByDesign ERP software-as-a-service offering until next year. ByDesign is currently undergoing procedures to localize its services, the company said.

Privacy App For BlackBerry

Arkansas telephony specialist First Orion has announced upgrades to its PrivacyStar BlackBerry app, which the company says will improve overall performance speed, call lookup accuracy and expand call blocking features.

PrivacyStar now allows Blackberry users to block entire area codes and groups of numbers used by bill collectors and telemarketers, including those that spoof their numbers with prefixes such as 000. The updates also improve the user experience by making the application faster.

For the moment, PrivacyStar is the only mobile app that captures detailed information about possible telemarketing violations including date, time, number and identity and makes it easy for users to supply this information to law enforcement authorities for investigation.