SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Navigating your way through business communications decisions

Choosing the right business communications solutions is no longer simply a case of choosing which type of system and brand you want.

The mind-boggling array of options available today means that the importance of making the correct choice has never been more critical. 

Communication behaviour is also changing. Today’s users are moving from formal meetings, booking resources and geographic limitations towards real-time collaboration, using diverse communication methods and devices, and regardless of location.

Outside of your employees the customers of SMBs are also changing how they interact and driving an excellent customer experience has become a business critical differentiator.

“When consumers hear about a product today, their first reaction is ‘Let me search online for it.’ And so they go on a journey of discovery: about a product, a service, an issue, an opportunity. Today you are not behind your competition. You are not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer.” Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, VivaKi

This transformation can be seen in seven key trends:

Technology is now an enabler

The rise of communications protocols such as SIP and options such as cloud is opening up a new world of applications and solutions. Today’s IP phone systems are gateways to this new world.

SMB IT staff are increasingly cloud and applications managers

The role of ICT staff is evolving to become more pro-active and strategic with a reduced emphasis on support and break/fix.

Spending growth for a mobile world

IT and telecoms budgets are increasingly focussed around the smartphone, applications and on delivering a more flexible work experience.

Re-imagining work

A new approach is required to an increasingly mobile world of work from remote working to businesses without offices. 

Premium on protection

Many business are re-focussing on protection in areas from network security and remote working to applications and business continuity plans.

Incremental, integrated solutions approach

Without the resources to buy and install everything at once many SMBs are adopting an incremental purchasing strategy and a phased approach to implementing applications and communications.

Reshaping the customer experience

The way customers buy products and services is transitioning towards online. All businesses need to consider how this new form of customer engagement will impact on the technology they need.   

Mitel has produced a free Buyers Guide to explore these issues further and to help you to navigate the business communications market.

  •  What are the key trends influencing business communications today? 
  •  What questions should you ask? 
  •  What features, phones and tools does your business really need? 
  •  Is cloud or traditional communications the right choice?
  • A glossary to demystify telecoms terms

Download The Guide

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Digium Switchvox Cloud 6.0 provides lower cost option to SMBs

Competitors hoping to entice both small business and enterprise customers need to offer fair, scalable pricing with high-quality solutions, and VoIP provider Digium realized this with Switchvox Cloud 6.0.

Digium, Inc. announced yesterday the release of cloud-based UC service Switchvox Cloud 6.0, which now offers a metered pricing structure for organizations with low usage patterns that want the features and opportunities of a business-class phone service.

"Switchvox Cloud's new, lower cost, metered offering starts at $12.99 per user, per month, reducing the barrier to entry for customers looking to migrate to cloud communications," said Channing Hinkle, product manager for Switchvox Cloud.  "Companies with variable call volumes, due to seasonality or other events, can save money by paying for only the minutes they use.  It's the perfect complement to our current Switchvox Cloud unlimited minutes offering for users with more consistent call volumes."

Important features of version 6.0 include updated call control and call visibility widgets, options for integration with CRM tools such as Salesforce and enhanced administrative tools.

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Enterprise Management Associates Names Unitrends as Vendor to Watch

Cloud recovery solution provider Unitrends announced yesterday Enterprise Management Associates named it a “Vendor to Watch,” recognizing it as a company that delivers unique customer value by solving previously unaddressed problems. Unitrends logo

Unitrends specifically works to address limited IT resources and lack of effective products for SMBs and midmarket enterprises through its cloud-empowered, all-in-one business continuity solutions, including multi-environment backup, archiving, and DRaaS.

"Unitrends greatly lowers risk by automatically and non-disruptively testing the recovery process following backups or replication," said Jim Miller, senior analyst at EMA. "Recovery assurance quantifies the actual time to recover, and confirms whether recovery point and recovery time objectives are being met." 

Unitrends’ President and CEO Kevin Weiss said the company works to increase IT confidence and reduce stress for SMBs.

The “Vendor to Watch” report featuring Unitrends is available here.

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GoDaddy Releases SMB Owner Tax and Finance Survey Results

GoDaddyGoDaddy recently announced the results of a survey of 600 SMB owners to determine how small businesses manage finances throughout the year and how they prepare for tax time. I was able to speak with the company’s SVP of Business Applications, Steven Aldrich about the survey findings, as well as GoDaddy’s answer for its SMB customers.


Steven told me their study found that 40% of SMBs take 6 or more hours (and some, days) to complete their taxes, and that 86% do not know exactly how much they will owe at tax time (12% not at all, 74% “ballpark amount”). In addition, 52% of respondents said that they manage their finances with either spreadsheets or pencil and paper. As you can imagine, this opens the door for standard data entry errors. In fact, 25% of respondents said that they actually lost track of whether or not a client paid for their services.

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McAfee, Office Depot Survey Find False Sense of Security in SMB Space

mfe primary logo rgb.smallMcAfee recently released the findings of a survey conducted jointly with Office Depot on SMB security perceptions. The survey, conducted in September 2013, found that 66% of the 1000 SMBs polled said that they felt confident about the security of their data and devices, while 77% said that they had never been hacked.

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How the Channel Can Help Solve the Most Pressing SMB Challenges

Lord Gordon bioBy Gordon Lord, Director of Distribution and Channel Marketing, Schneider Electric IT

Small businesses are often expected to have similar capabilities as larger companies, but with far fewer resources at their disposal. While all IT managers have their unique set of challenges, small-to-medium sized business (SMB) IT organizations frequently face a distinct set of difficulties, such as limited space, small staffs and limited budgets.

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Community Rocks! Profiles in SMB IT: Joseph Fulgieri, JMF TechServices

Joe FulgieriFor our new blog series “Community Rocks! Profiles in SMB IT,” we spoke with Joseph Fulgieri, (pictured) owner of JMF TechServices. Located on Long Island, NY, Fulgieri is a one-man shop hybrid MSP who specializes in almost any type of IT need that a small business owner requires. Read more to find out how Fulgieri got his start in IT, how he once got paid by a client in homemade empanadas, and what his personal business philosophy is.

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Survey Reveals Top 5 SMB Concerns, Worries

Yodle logoYodle has released the results from its inaugural Small Business Sentiment Survey – a study that examines American small business owners' perspective on work-life balance, professional and personal worries, and government and institutional support.  The study also reveals the rate at which small business owners are adopting modern technology and marketing approaches.  The survey, which was conducted in June 2013 through a third party research firm, polled 306 small business owners nationwide across a large variety of industries.

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Carbonite Enhances Backup with Local, Cloud Storage Hybrid

Carbonite said that it is bringing enterprise-class database server backup capabilities to the small business market with the introduction of Enhanced Server Backup.  Enhanced Server Backup delivers the best of both worlds – the speed of local backup plus the ultimate safety of cloud backup. 

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MSP Exigent Technologies Offers Turnkey Cloud Services for NY/NJ SMBs

Exigent Technologies today launched its new service TurnKey Cloud, which makes it easy and affordable for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans (who are SMBs) to quickly and confidently adopt cloud computing solutions.

Available immediately, Exigent’s TurnKey Cloud services are purpose-built for SMBs and include customizable, cloud-based infrastructure solutions and data center services that ensure business availability and enable smaller companies to consume information technology as a service (IaaS), rather than a continuous expenditure.

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HP Makes Changes, Enhancements to PartnerOne Program

HP today announced enhancements to its flagship PartnerOne program, helping HP partners to accelerate growth and profitability, while strengthening their competitive differentiation in the market.

According to a press release issued today by HP, the changes to the program will be effective Nov. 1, 2013.

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Anturis Moves from Beta to Commercial Launch of Cloud-Based Monitoring Solution for SMBs

Anturis has moved from Beta to its official commercial launch and availability of its new and enhanced cloud-based monitoring and troubleshooting solution for web services and IT infrastructure. Designed for SMBs that generally do not have access to, or budgets for, a dedicated IT department, the Anturis commercial service delivers enterprise-grade IT infrastructure monitoring and troubleshooting in a simple, easy-to-setup and use browser-based cloud solution.

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Portland Computerworks' Founder Finds Life in IT after Military Tour

This past weekend, I tuned into 60 Minutes, as I do most Sunday evenings, to wind down, and I came across an interview that one of their correspondents did with a former U.S. Marine who is now an SMB. The clip, titled, “Succeeding as Civilians,” featured a veteran, who had been injured during combat, and got his start as a small business owner through a program designed to help disabled and wounded veterans literally get back on their feet and get into business.

It made me think, while watching this 60 Minutes clip, on how I have recently spoken to many IT members in our community who are former military. One such conversation I had recently was with Joseph Bettencourt, Founder and CEO of Portland Computerworks. While Bettencourt was thankfully, not wounded during his military tour, he took the experience he picked up during his time at tech school in the U.S. Air Force, for Computer Information Systems. He told me that he was one of four chosen out of more than 300 students for a special assignment working at a Computer Forensics Laboratory near the NSA. By the time Bettencourt finished his military experience, he picked up various Computer Certifications from the Department of Defense Computer Training Institute as well as computer training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA.

(Pictured at right): Joseph Bettencourt, Founder and CEO, Portland Computerworks


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Ooma Office Now Available for SMBs via Staples, Ooma.Com

Ooma said today that its small business phone system, Ooma Office, is now available for purchase at Staples stores nationwide and at Ooma.com. According to the company, Oooma Office is the first product developed by Ooma to address the needs of small businesses. Ooma Office delivers the advanced features and service quality that come with a big business phone service at a price point that is more affordable than other solutions.  

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Desktone Extends DaaS Platform to Deliver On-Premises, Cloud-Managed Desktops and Apps

Desktone said today that it has extended its cloud-hosted desktop platform with a new on-premises, cloud-managed virtual desktop solution. The new offering resides at the customer site and is managed remotely by a Cloud Provider, giving enterprises and SMBs the flexibility to choose the cloud model that best suits their business: public, private, or hybrid. 

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Cbeyond Reveals Top 5 Cloud Resource, Time-Saving Tips for SMBs

Cbeyond yesterday revealed its top five tips to help SMBs save resources dedicated to managing and maintaining cloud servers before, during or post cloud implementation. The guidelines, part of Cbeyond's "Technology Ally" best practices series, are designed to help SMBs realize the full potential of their IT investments and better serve customers.

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Microsoft Releases e-Guide on Demystifying the Pursuit of Govt. Contracts

Microsoft recently released an e-guide on how partners can take the mystery and confusion regarding contracts with governments and large enterprises. With so many of us having such busy schedules, we literally have zero time to focus on how to muddle through all of this “red tape,” which often includes mounds of paperwork and excess forms and tasks to complete.

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Survey Says: 30.5% of Small Biz Advertisers will Spend More in 2013

Small business owners and decision-makers are fairly optimistic about revenue projections, with 92.5% expecting their revenue to be flat or up in 2013, according to the latest Small Business Marketing Forecast by Ad-ology Research.

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