Tech Thursday (August 11) – Spice Works Automation; Quote Request; eVoice Hot Area Codes; Bolt and Acronis Disaster Recovery; Elance Survey

Spiceworks Automates Business Technology Purchasing with New Social Commerce Offering

Request for Quote Streamlines Technology Purchasing

Is 310 the new 90210? eVoice® Survey Reveals Area Codes Have the Edge Over Zip Codes in Boosting Small Business Image

Code 42 Software Introduces CrashPlan PRO for SMBs

Acronis Provides Disaster Recovery Tips for Businesses to Prepare for Hurricane Season

BOLT Infographic Asks: Can Your Small Business Survive a Natural Disaster?

Elance Independence Day Survey Reveals Professional Workforce Reinventing Careers to Achieve Freedom and Flexibility

Spiceworks Automates Business Technology Purchasing with New Social Commerce Offering

New feature provides innovative sales channel for technology vendors; simplifies buying for world’s largest network of IT professionals

Spiceworks™, Inc., the world’s largest social business network for IT, unveiled new capabilities that make technology purchasing easier for its 1.5 million users. The new Request for Quote (RFQ) feature automates and simplifies the complex process of purchasing business technology and services by leveraging the social networking features of the Spiceworks community to power e-commerce.

The Request for Quote (RFQ) feature enables small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to solicit vendor quotes for technology goods and services, share quotes with peers and place orders directly within the Spiceworks network. The streamlined approach is designed to help automate the last and often most cumbersome part of their jobs – the technology purchasing process.

“Social commerce has changed consumer buying habits, but the approach has yet to take hold among businesses,” said Scott Abel, co-founder and CEO of Spiceworks. “With 1.5 million business professionals in Spiceworks, our community spends more than $260 billion a year on technology products and services. The new RFQ feature is the latest of several capabilities we will unveil that aim to harness the collective-buying power of the Spiceworks network, while also providing technology vendors a way to benefit from the growing wave of social commerce.”

Request for Quote Streamlines Technology Purchasing

As the first of several upcoming social commerce capabilities to be integrated into Spiceworks, the RFQ feature provides multiple ways for small and mid-sized businesses to streamline the process of purchasing the technology they use every day – from cloud services and hosted e-mail to laptops, desktops and servers. The RFQ feature includes the following capabilities:

Is 310 the new 90210? eVoice® Survey Reveals Area Codes Have the Edge Over Zip Codes in Boosting Small Business Image

National customer survey identifies recognizable area codes and 800 Numbers as key business drivers

eVoice®, a “Radically Better Phone Number” and brand from technology leader j2 Global Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: JCOM), today released the results of its new “Small Business Communication Strategies and Challenges Survey ” that highlights the significance of area codes and toll-free numbers in projecting a professional business image. eVoice® is a virtual phone number that enables small businesses to easily manage business communications from anywhere, anytime through call routing, screening and recording; virtual receptionist and personal attendant features; and voicemail transcription as text messages.

j2 Global’s extensive worldwide network provides voice and fax numbers in over 4,300 cities in 49 countries, giving small businesses a valuable competitive edge in creating a local presence while building a professional image.

The majority of respondents in the eVoice “Small Business Communication Strategies and Challenges Survey” said that the right area code carries more prestige than a desirable zip code, suggesting that the right area code can provide a competitive edge in acquiring customers. Additional key findings from the survey include:

· The majority of respondents (68 percent) say having the right area code or 800 number gives them a competitive edge.

· Seventy-one percent of respondents believe their area code carries more prestige than their zip code.

· The majority of respondents (56 percent) confirmed that the biggest benefit to having an 800 number is that their business appears larger.

· Seventy percent of respondents stated that their mobile phone is their primary business phone.

· When asked “What does a recognizable area code say about your business?” The number one answer from survey respondents was “Legitimacy.”

“Some things never change, like the importance of a first impression,” said Mike Pugh, vice president, marketing of j2 Global Communications, Inc. “What’s interesting about the survey findings is that it’s an area code, not a physical address that now seems to have the most positive impact. eVoice enables a small business to be connected to the community – via a local area code – even though the business may be in another city or state. And for businesses that want to present a broader national image, eVoice offers toll-free numbers.”

Code 42 Software Introduces CrashPlan PRO for SMBs

Product delivers enterprise-grade backup with consumer ease-of-use for non-IT business owners

Code 42 Software Inc., creators of CrashPlan and CrashPlan PROe, award-winning backup software for home and enterprise, announces the immediate availability of CrashPlan PRO, a new cloud backup service for the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market.

Designed specifically for the unique backup needs of SMBs, CrashPlan PRO works unobtrusively, delivering automatic continuous backup, both online and to attached drives. CrashPlan PRO’s simplified, web-based management dashboard enables managers to easily monitor all user backups, conduct real-time management, and control company-wide backup settings. Whether a business has two computers or 200, all desktop and laptop computers are protected.

“We didn’t want to simply rebrand our consumer product and call it ‘business’, nor did we strip down our enterprise product and rename it. Instead, we started with a blank slate and asked, ’What do businesses really need?’” said Matthew Dornquast, founder and CEO, Code 42 Software. ”What every business needs is the security and reliability of an enterprise product combined with the ease of use of a consumer product. And of course they’d like to have support from people who really know backup, available via phone, email, and live chat. That’s exactly what we’re delivering today.”

With CrashPlan PRO, all data is protected with 448-bit encryption before it ever leaves the computer, meaning even the most sensitive business data is safe and secure in the cloud. CrashPlan PRO also features cross-platform support for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris (both client and server), multiple destination support, unrivaled support for laptop backup, de-duplication, and comprehensive reporting.

CrashPlan PRO is available immediately to customers in the United States and Canada. Worldwide availability expected is in Q4, 2011.

Acronis Provides Disaster Recovery Tips for Businesses to Prepare for Hurricane Season

New Tips for Effective IT Disaster Recovery That Can Help Businesses Protect Their Data and Recover Quickly From Natural Disasters

With hurricane season upon us, it is increasingly important for businesses to back up their data assets to maintain continuity that can weather any storm. According to a recent survey by Acronis(1), approximately one-third of U.S. businesses reported having no backup and disaster recovery strategy in place. Acronis, a leading provider of easy-to-use disaster recovery and data protection solutions for physical, virtual and cloud environments, has issued five tips to help businesses ensure all their critical data is fully protected and can be recovered quickly in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster.

1. Opt into disk imaging. To ensure that companies can be up and running quickly, make images of computers and servers so full copies of data and applications are safely tucked away. You can either store on different machines, in different locations or reach for a cloud solution. In the event that something happens, the images can be loaded onto new hardware in hours rather than days.

2. Jump to the cloud for business continuity. Onsite backups are great for day-to-day recovery, but if they are destroyed too, you need to consider off-site data storage solution. Another alternative is to contract with a cloud service provider to not only back up to the cloud, but also recover onto virtual machines.

3. Recover to dissimilar hardware. Hardware-agnostic software can recover from the backup image of the failed system onto any available hardware and replace the old machine’s hardware drivers with the new ones, a process that takes only about 15 minutes. Virtualization users can opt to recover mission-critical machines even more quickly by recovering either a physical or virtual machine disk image to a standby virtual machine. It can then be launched immediately with a mouse click.

4. Include both your physical and virtual environments. Use a backup and recovery solution that takes care of backups and recoveries of all your machines. For ease of management consider a solution that protects all the platforms you’re using. Then, if disaster strikes, your organization can much more easily coordinate a recovery that will minimize or eliminate the potential for lost productivity.

5. Make a plan and follow it. Make sure if disaster does strike, you know how to get your data back quickly. Look for data protection and disaster recovery solutions that provide a step by step guide to recover your systems and files. It is rare that the person who made the backup is the same person on hand to recover when disaster does strike!

“Any data loss, through natural disaster or simple human mistake can spell success or failure for businesses,” said Izzy Azeri, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas. “Our tips are a trusted set of best practices that can help businesses, small and large, develop comprehensive backup and recovery plans that minimize the financial and productivity impacts that occur after unplanned disruptions.”

Acronis provides backup and recovery software that helps small and large businesses ensure not only the preservation of digital assets, but also the rapid recovery of those assets after a storm has passed. For more information, go to www.acronis.com.

BOLT Infographic Asks: Can Your Small Business Survive a Natural Disaster?

Graphic Reveals Devastating Impact on Business Owners and Tools to Protect Small Business from the Unexpected

Business Owners Liability Team (BOLT InsuranceAgency) released today its infographic illustrating the staggering impact of natural disasters on small business and the steps owners can take to protect themselves and their businesses. The graphic presents a collection of research, statistics and comments detailing why these owners must act with urgency to undergo the preparation that could save their businesses. Importantly, BOLT provides small business owners tools for creating a business continuity plan to avoid the effects of a natural disaster and other unforeseen risks.

The infographic contains alarming statistics on the financial consequences of natural disasters. According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, of the thousands of businesses forced to close after a natural disaster, at least 25 percent never re-open and many others struggle to stay afloat. Furthermore, according to the Score Small Business Disaster Report, the economic costs of natural disasters have skyrocketed. In the past 2 decades costs associated with natural disasters in the USA have multiplied five times to more than $600 billion.

“A day in the life of a small business owner is filled with all-encompassing aspects of running their businesses profitably and successfully, so it is not all that surprising that building a business continuity plan to prepare for a natural disaster is something often put off,” said Tom Hammond, Executive Vice President at BOLT. “Unfortunately, it only takes one tornado, fire or hurricane to destroy a small business, and take its owner’s personal assets with it.”

In a recent survey, BOLT discovered that well over half of small business owner’s interviewed qualified as “underinsured” meaning they either had no insurance, the wrong coverage or were lacking coverage in key areas. The research showed that most underinsured small business owners felt fairly comfortable because they perceived themselves to be at minimal risk. In fact, 90 percent of respondents did not have adequate knowledge of what can and should be insured in a small business.

“Our exclusive focus on protecting small business owners has taught us that this group is not adequately protecting themselves from risk,” added Hammond. “With this in mind, it’s difficult to even imagine the impact that recent flooding and tornados throughout the country will have on small business.”

The infographic provides small business owners with tips for protecting themselves from sudden, unplanned calamitous events that create an inability for an organization to provide critical business functions, resulting in great damage or loss to that organization. These disasters can result in sales loss, customer loss, property loss, loss or reduction of employees, or data loss. These tips include very specific guidance on the creation of a Business Continuity Plan to identify the company’s exposures to internal and external threats and helps work out systems to effectively keep the business operating in time of crisis.

Please visit http://info.boltinsurance.com/small-business-natural-disasters to view BOLT’s infographic.

Elance Independence Day Survey Reveals Professional Workforce Reinventing Careers to Achieve Freedom and Flexibility

Freelance incomes increase as 89% cite working independently as critical career strategy

As America commemorates another year of freedom, professionals across the U.S. are celebrating their independence from traditional work. According to a new national survey from Elance, the leading platform for online employment, freelancers are happier working as independent professionals (61%) than as employees (11%) and cite the ability to take control of their own schedule as the best part of independent work (90%). Money may also be linked directly to job satisfaction as 47% of freelancers saw their income increase in the past 12 months, a number that will likely continue to rise as companies across the globe adopt flexible work models to meet their work objectives and grow their businesses.

“Many workers are seeking more independence in their professional lives,” said Fabio Rosati, CEO at Elance. “With businesses increasingly hiring programmers, marketers, graphic designers, and administrative talent in the cloud, a growing number of independent professionals who work online are finding opportunities that match their skills and talents.”

Key findings from the survey:

• Educated Faces of Freelance: Independent workers span across generations (Millennial: 26%, Gen X: 42% and Boomers: 31%). In addition, the typical online freelancer is highly educated. 80% of independent workers have a professional degree.

• Job Satisfaction: Freelancers rank high on the happiness scale: 80% are optimistic about their career path and 61% are happier working as independent professionals than as employees. Working independently is a career cornerstone for the majority of respondents, with twice as many preferring the freelance lifestyle (56%) over working full-time with one employer (19%).

• Career Reinvention: Nearly 1 in 3 workers began freelancing to be their own boss and work on the type of projects they love. The top benefits of freelancing include the ability to control their own schedule (90%), following their passion (87%) and eliminating the commute (85%).

• The Digital Work Revolution: 92% turn to online job sites as their primary method for finding work, and 41% indicate they are using social media outlets to land jobs. Only 22% use staffing agencies or recruiters and less than 10% rely on college job postings or job fairs to find work.

• No Paper Cuts: 65% feel a digital profile, where independent contractors can showcase their talent online with verified work history, multimedia portfolio and tested skills, is more effective than a traditional resume (35%) in finding a job today.

• Closing the Commute: 65% state that telecommuting is a critical part of their career goals, while less than 7% want to work onsite at a company a majority of the time.

Diverse Income Opportunities

Freelancers are nearing $400 million in earnings on Elance, as 47% of freelancers surveyed said their income increased in the past 12 months. 40% of survey respondents make more than $50K per year and 36% cite freelancing as their sole source of income. 35% of independent workers began freelancing to earn supplemental income, while only 9% are freelancing until they can find a full-time job. In a sign that the economy may be stabilizing, 17% started freelancing after being downsized or laid off (down from 24% from last year’s survey).

Remington McElhaney, a freelance animation graphic designer, never thought he could pursue a career in animation while going to school in Northern Idaho and working as a line cook at a local ski resort until he discovered Elance.

“Elance offers a great way for me to gain career experience and sharpen my skills in animation since there aren’t a lot of opportunities here in Idaho. I’m being recruited for innovative projects for clients all over the U.S.,” said Remington.

Work Without Borders

Online job platforms like Elance are eliminating regional constraints for finding work. The vast majority of freelancers (83%) work with clients throughout the U.S. and 31% have clients outside of the U.S. Working with a wide variety of clients from around the globe offers freelancers a competitive edge, helps build a diversified work portfolio and develops a range of new skills, from Android to WordPress.

The Gender Breakdown

The study found that men and women were equal (65%) in wanting to be their own boss and not banking their financial future on a single employer. More women (62%) than men (57%) cited “no cubicles” as one of the things they like best about freelancing. 50% of women want to telecommute or work from home a majority of the time versus 39% of men. While women make up less than half (47%) of the traditional work force, 60% of survey respondents are women, representing a 4% increase from last year.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

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