This week, IBM held its Lotusphere get together, offering Big Blue a chance to highlight some of its recent releases -- two of which target the SMB market specifically, Google and Verizon got together to offer SMB bundled apps, HubSpot goes social and CMSWire goes to the White House.
Google and Verizon Partner
A surprising partnership between broadband business services provider Verizon (news, site) and Google has resulted in the creation of Google Apps for Verizon, which includes business applications like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sites.
Specifically designed for SMBs, itprovides them with a domain name and email, and aims to boost their productivity by making cloud-based capabilities available toemployees, whether in an office or on the go.
The new offering for Verizon business customers includes 25 GB (gigabytes) of domain name e-mail storage per user, web-based documents, spreadsheets and presentation tools, instant messaging and more to help small and medium-sized businesses and their employees collaborate seamlessly.
All the features can be easily accessed online from any computer, as well as on smartphones and other mobile devices, allowing you to get your work done in an anywhere, anytime mobile environment.
The bundles with Google Apps are available in Washington, D.C., and different locations within 12 other states. Google Apps for Verizon is also available as a stand-alone service to all businesses across the country for US$ 3.99 per month per user. It’s not clear whether this deal will be extended to other states.
White House Outlines SMB Strategy
This week, CMSWire went to the White House. The event was the launch of Startup America, a national campaign to help America achieve the goal of promoting high-growth entrepreneurship.
High on that list of goals, which were listed at the event, was that of supporting the growth of SMBs and the technologies that help businesses develop and grow.
The technological focus of the campaign is underlined by the presence of a long list of IT entrepreneurs including AOL (news, site) founder Steve Case.
The event also provided the opportunity for entrepreneurs to share their small business stories and adventures with contributions from people like Jennifer Zeszut at Scoutlabs, a social media monitoring company in San Francisco, to Kimberly Brown at AmethystTechnologies in Baltimore.
Many corporations also used Startup America to showcase their own investments in entrepreneurs and small businesses. IBM, for instance, announced that they will invest US$ 150 million in 2011 to fund programs promoting entrepreneurs and new business opportunities. While not strictly technology orientated, the implications of SMB technology are profound. Interested in more?
IBM Enters Cloud Office Market
Competition in the Web office suite space shifted into a higher gear this week when IBM (news, site) launched LotusLive Symphony for the cloud, an office suite that offers a social platform enabling simultaneous collaboration on documents in the cloud.
While it is not directly aimed at SMBs, it is inevitable that the SMB sector is one of the big beneficiaries, as vendors are really going to have to get price-competitive to maintain market share.
While the market for cloud office suites is really getting tight, IBM believes LotusLive integration will make the difference. LotusLive is IBM’s portal, offering a number of collaboration and social networking services in cloud.
That might not be enough to beat the competition, but IBM is quite clear about what it aims to do with Symphony. It says it aims to break the link between Microsoft Office desktops and business by offering something that will enable organizations to socially enable their business processes.
Although Big Blue thinks Symphony will be enough, the results still aren't clear, particularly because Microsoft will be launching Office365, which not only provides Office in the cloud, but also SharePoint Online, Lync and Exchange. Find out more here.
IBM Releases Cognos Express
A second announcement from IBM this week -- remember it's Lotusphere week so this was inevitable -- will also be welcome in the SMB space.
To help SMBs into the analytics market, IBM has just released an ‘express’ version of their analytics product, Cognos, which it targeted specifically at this space.
Details about Cognos Express Planner are still sparse, as the release is only scheduled for today, but IBM has described it as an application for automating the planning, budgeting and forecasting of business operations, without the need for IT interventions.
Specifically, it offers midsized organizations integrated and collaborative software capabilities to build financial plans, identify performance gaps, prioritize resources and provide insights into current profit and potential growth. Check it out here.
HubSpot Gets Social
HubSpot (news, site) announced improvements to its inbound marketing software that will deliver more robust mobile and social experiences, as well as enhanced email capabilities to the SMB market
Specific developments in HubSpot’s marketing software include:
- HubSpot’s Content Management System (CMS) will include mobile-ready templates to ensure optimal usability on any device.
- HubSpot’s Email Management templates will be optimized for mobile consumption and social media reach, including relevant social media ‘follow me’ buttons in every email.
- HubSpot’s Competitors report will provide new benchmarks to compare social media reach for Twitter and Facebook, as well as online conversion benchmarks
HubSpot is also offering free website evaluations for those interested in finding out if they are keeping pace with mobile and social innovation.