Tech Thursday (Oct 27) – Manta, Fonality, eFax, Zoomerang, AVG

Government in the Red With Small Businesses: Manta Survey Finds 67% Are Unsatisfied With Government Efforts and Identify Job Creation as Top Issue

Fonality Study: Mobility Demands for Small and Mid-Size Businesses on the Rise, Cloud-Based Applications Gaining Popularity

New App from Market-Leading eFax(R) Turns iPad into Mobile Fax Machine

Survey Explores How SMBs Have Untapped Consumer Connection Points Via Social Media

AVG Business Edition 2012 Unveiled

Government in the Red With Small Businesses: Manta Survey Finds 67% Are Unsatisfied With Government Efforts and Identify Job Creation as Top Issue

Manta Launches SMB Wellness Index, Reveals New Business Activity on the Rise in Q2

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite the recent economic turbulence and a survey that shows 61 percent of small business owners aren’t optimistic about the economic outlook, new data shows a 27 percent increase in new business activity in the second quarter of 2011 versus the same quarter last year. The findings are part of the first Manta SMB Wellness Index, a quarterly index on the state of small business released by Manta, the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business.  The index examines nationwide data collected from multiple business resources and takes a “pulse” of small business owners on hot topics. Manta’s latest survey polled more than 2,300 small business owners about their feelings on the political environment and its impact on the SMB community.

The Manta SMB Wellness Index shows business activity is surging in many parts of the country. California tops the list as the state with the most activity in the second quarter of this year, and Maine saw the biggest growth year over year. Not surprisingly, businesses focused on extending the life of existing products are on the rise. Repair businesses have seen a dramatic increase year over year. In addition, there’s momentum in the e-commerce/IT outsourcing category, and the electronics industry has also seen a lift in activity compared to Q2 2010.

“Despite the challenging economic conditions, small business owners are charging ahead; in fact, our survey found 37 percent of small business owners expect their profits will increase this year,” said Pamela Springer, president and CEO of Manta. “As a company focused on helping the small business community, Manta sees the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive and well.”

Fonality Study: Mobility Demands for Small and Mid-Size Businesses on the Rise, Cloud-Based Applications Gaining Popularity

One quarter of SMB staff works outside the office; productivity tools paramount

DALLAS – Fonality, North America’s fastest growing business communications company, today released the “State-of-the-Market 2011 Report: Mobility Trends in SMBs.” The study, conducted by Webtorials, surveyed small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) with 10 to 250 employees. It revealed the increasing mobility demands of SMBs finding that 50 percent of these employees are estimated to be working outside the office, with a quarter of staff out at any given time. Other prominent findings include the increased utilization of tablet computers, which will become the standard mobile device within 18 months. In addition, due to increasing mobile dependence, 43 percent of SMBs plan to deploy cloud-based or hosted mobile solutions to improve delivery to employees.

“SMBs are relying on mobile tools to better serve customers and reduce capex,” said Joanie Wexler, an independent networking analyst and editor in Silicon Valley. “However, employees are struggling with inconsistent access experiences when inside and outside the office, which can be a productivity-buster. Companies with highly mobile-centric employees that invest in solutions enabling consistent access can recoup a lot of worker time, and this study shows that cloud/hosted services are emerging as a primary way of achieving those goals.”

Additional details from the report revealed:

  • Real-time presence as well as corporate directory and calendar access are favored Unified Communications (UC) capabilities
  • Contact center functionality, including customer escalation, skills-based routing and queue management are an increasingly high priority
  • Wi-Fi connectivity is a preferred method to preserve mobile plan minutes

New App from Market-Leading eFax(R) Turns iPad into Mobile Fax Machine

Easily Send and Receive Faxes from the Convenience of Your Phone, Tablet or PC

LOS ANGELES, CA, – eFax(R), a provider of cloud-based fax services since 1995 and a brand of j2 Global Communications, Inc. /quotes/zigman/85324/quotes/nls/jcom JCOM +2.15% , today announced the general availability of its new eFax app for the iPad. eFax users can download this new app today and use it for all their faxing and document management needs.

Similar to the eFax app for the iPhone, the iPad app can be used to create and send faxes even when there is no fax machine or PC in sight. Photos stored or taken with the iPad’s camera can be sent as a fax directly from the iPad. Inbound faxes received can be viewed and forwarded via fax or email right from the app as well. A real estate agent, for example, can fax an offer via their iPad without driving back to the office or a patient can fax a prescription to their pharmacy as they are leaving the doctor’s office.

In addition, the eFax app for iPad can be used to:

—  Enhance Images. Images sent as faxes using the app will be rendered into a fax-friendly format and multiple images can be combined for faxing as a single document.

—  Search and View Faxes. Quickly search fax contents and view all your received faxes so you can act on important documents anywhere, anytime.

—  Use Cover Sheets and Contact Lists. Create and send customized fax cover sheets alone or with additional fax pages. iPad contact lists can be used to populate faxes quickly and easily.

—  Tag and Archive Faxes. Add search tags to individual faxes and archive them for convenient access later.

Survey Explores How SMBs Have Untapped Consumer Connection Points Via Social Media

Contrary to a rumored “Facebook Fatigue”, recent research suggests SMBs can up their level of social engagement with customers to bolster bottom line business results

SAN FRANCISCO – As consumers continue to clamor to social media channels, a recent survey conducted by Zoomerang Online Surveys and Polls found that small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are not using these tools to the fullest potential to capture their customers’ attention.

The survey polled more than 1,100 SMB decision-makers and more than 500 consumers throughout the U.S. on their use of social media. Nearly half of the surveyed SMBs utilize social channels to market to customers; of those, an overwhelming majority (86 percent) have Facebook accounts. The majority of consumers surveyed (93 percent) used Facebook.

“The term ‘Facebook Fatigue’ has been thrown around a lot lately, but survey data shows that consumers are far from  their saturation point with social media,” said Alex Terry, General Manager of Zoomerang. “Social media has become a way of life for consumers and it’s essential that SMBs use these tools to their maximum potential to connect with customers.”

According to the survey results, consumers are more likely to ”like” a business on Facebook because of personal interest (31 percent) while SMBs named connecting with customers (28 percent) as their reason for using Facebook.  Through Facebook, 19 percent of consumers have “un-liked” a company or brand. Additionally, 37 percent cite special deals/discounts as the way to get their attention on Facebook. Yet, only 10 percent of SMBs find offering specials/discounts on Facebook to be an effective way to reach their customers on Facebook.

“When marketing to customers, SMBs should consider these survey results,” said Terry. “While a special discount is a powerful approach to engage, sending them messages directly or asking them their opinion via survey or poll is also a persuasive way to show that they are valued and their opinions are heard.”

AVG Business Edition 2012 Unveiled

Created especially for SMBs, new security software delivers more, demands less

AMSTERDAM – AVG Technologies, a leading provider of Internet and mobile security, today announced AVG Business Edition 2012, a robust, resource-friendly security software solution for today’s small- and medium-size businesses. The updated software is faster, lighter, easier to use and is available now.

AVG believes SMBs need more than a stripped-down version of enterprise security: They need software created especially for them. In a nutshell, AVG Business Edition 2012:

  • Delivers more—with respect to speed, protection, cost savings and time to focus on the day’s tasks
  • Demands less—by way of smart scanning, fewer interruptions and ease of use that makes a smaller footprint on users, administrators, PCs, servers and the overall budget
  • Minimizes threats—via award-winning antivirus and Internet security across multiple touch-points, from e-mail and the Web to emerging threats such as information theft, social engineering and the risks involved with using social media as a marketing tool
  • Reduces hassle—with an uncluttered management console

“AVG Business Edition 2012 aims to be the simplest, most tailored security option for SMBs available,” said Robert Gorby, global head of business marketing at AVG. “For businesses looking for protection without impeding performance, AVG is the most compelling solution on the market. That said, customers can essentially set and forget—with peace of mind that we will take care of the rest while they interact in the connected world.”

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About Allison Midori Reilly

Allison Midori Reilly is the CEO and Founder of Stirring Media, LLC. Stirring Media, LLC is a content marketing and news production firm that provides content marketing and business blogging services to the small business market. Prior to that, she was a freelance writer, who was published in over a dozen print and online publications, such as Smallbiztechnology.com, American City & County, Ideabing.com, Transport Topics and St. Louis Commerce Magazine. In her spare time, Reilly is an active member of Amnesty International as well as an avid poker player.