SMB Tech Roll-up: Android Gets Google Docs App, SMBs Using Small Vendors for ERP

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David Roe avatar

This week, there was some interesting news in the mobile space, with Google finally offering a new Docs app for Android, Sony enters the tablet wars, SMBs are looking to smaller vendors for their ERP deployments, there’s further confirmation that SMBs are taking to social media, while eFileCabinet has integrated with Intuit’s Quickbooks.

Google Docs For Android

From Google this week and for SMBs -- although not exclusively for them -- is the new Docs app for Android. With it, users of Android phones will be able to filter and search for content across any Google account, and then send to editing for docs on mobile devices. The app also allows users to share items with contacts on the user’s phone, from within the app.

However, it’s not just editing that’s available. Leaving aside the ability to open docs from Gmail, it comes with many otherGoogle Docs features including creating, editing, uploading and sharing documents, as well as a one-touch widget for creating new documents, or taking and uploading photos.

In fact, the photo app goes a lot further than that. Using the app and the phone’s camera, users can turn photos with text into editable Google documents using OCR, which also captures unformatted text in English, although handwriting or some fonts are still not a runner.

The Google Docs app is currently available in English and works on Android 2.1+ phones.If you want to know more, check out the blog post.

Sony Enters Tablet Market

But Google hasn’t been the only one busy in the mobile space this week. If you missed it earlier on, Sony (news, site) is throwing its weight into the tablet war, all set to battle Apple and others this fall with a new pair of sleek home tablet devices.

During the week, Sony unveiled its forthcoming Android 3.0-powered tablet devices that it hopes will divert some of the piles of cash currently going to Apple in its direction. The Sony S1 is a 9.4-inch standard tablet with a sleek, tapered, design, while the S2 offers something a little different in a clamshell design with two 5.5-inch screens.

On the S2, the lower screen can be a virtual keyboard, gaming controls or app functions. While the specs (and pricing) haven't been unveiled at this point, it will need to match or beat whatever the likes of Apple, as well as the other Android device makers, are offering at the time, to stand any chance in a cutthroat market. Interested in more?

SMBs Looking to Small ERP Vendors

SMBsbusinesses seeking an affordable and effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution are wise to consider offerings from Tier III vendors (small vendors), according to the 2011 Guide to ERP Systems and Vendors report from Panorama Consulting Group.

In addition to having the shortest average implementation duration (12 months) and the lowest average project cost (US$ 1.1 million), Tier III vendors also had the shortest payback time, with 76% percent of their paybacks clocking in at less than three years.

And it seemsenterprises are beginning to take note; not only are they doing well in the $25 to $50 million category (28.4%), but they are also beating Oracle, Microsoft and Tier II vendors (combined) to rank as the second choice (behind SAP) in the $50 to $100 million market (23.1%).

However, though the survey found that Tier III vendors are gaining ground in terms of market share, their satisfaction rankings are low when compared to their Tier I and Tier II counterparts.

The 2011 Guide to ERP Systems and Vendors was conducted by Panorama Consulting Group via online polling on its website. The over 1,600 participants represent organizations from 57 countries that have recently implemented ERP solutions. Interested in the full report?

SMBs, Social Media

From mobile to social media. This week, new research from Really Simple Systems, which provides free CRM, cloud CRM and web-based CRMto SMBs, confirms what we’ve seen in other reports on the SMB space and social media: SMBs are really taking to it, and taking to it in Europe too.

Learning Opportunities

Really Simple Systems questioned small business owners, directors, sales, marketing and IT managers in Europe on their views of cloud services and the reliability of the products currently available in the market and, this year, covered the issue of social media for the first time.

From a sample of 862 respondents -- the majority from SMBs with fewer than 50 employees -- 62% report that they now use social networking in everyday business. The research also shows that 92% of those using it do so to keep in touch with existing customers, while 78% are using it to find new customers.

LinkedIn is the most widely-used social media tool by small businesses, with 83% of those who said they were using social media using the business-orientated social networking site. Facebook (72%) is the next most popular means of conducting "social business," followed closely by Twitter (65%)

Another interesting fact from all this was that SaaS and cloud computing is also on the rise. The use of cloud free CRM, cloud CRM and web-based CRM by small businesses has now overtaken in-house CRM.

It also showed that almost half of respondents feel as confident about the reliability, speed, data safety and functionality of cloud applications as they do with in-house offerings.

EFileCabinet Integrates QuickBooks

Enterprise content management vendor eFileCabinet (news, site) has recently announced its integration with Intuit's QuickBooks, one of the most widely used small business accounting software packages. The integration provides users with a more efficient way to link their QuickBooks records with documents stored in eFileCabinet.

With the integration, users are able to link information for customers, vendors, invoices, bills and more between eFileCabinet and QuickBooks.

Profile data such as invoice numbers, check numbers and customer names are pulled from records entered in QuickBooks and associated with supporting documents stored in eFileCabinet. Saving this information into eFileCabinet allows users to search for these keywords and retrieve files more quickly.

Along with quicker file search, the integration tool streamlines the document storage process. When a transaction is saved in QuickBooks, a window appears, prompting the user to store any supporting documents, such as a printed bill, invoice, address change or email, in eFileCabinet.