Profile of Michele Warren
News & Commentary Posts: 122
Articles by Michele Warren
Company.com uses Facebook, Twitter to help SMBs save, make, and find money.
To be the best, it helps to learn from the best. That's why so many SMBs turn to mentors for assistance.
Don't move to the cloud just because everyone else is doing it. Explore whether it's right for you by asking yourself some questions first and then demanding answers from potential vendors.
Part data repository, part social media platform, software such as ThoughtFarmer turns businesses into thriving communities.
With compromised productivity a constant threat to business success, the question for SMBs isn't how can we afford a help desk, but how can we afford not to invest in IT support?
What separates the good from the great? Guardian research unveils keys to success for entrepreneurs and business owners.
ZoomInfo touts its proprietary technology as it seeks to 'map the business landscape in near real-time.'
The latest research from Constant Contact shows that the best marketing strategy is an integrated, well-rounded one.
Lack of awareness and uncertainty about managing multiple apps are the culprits according to AppDirect co-CEO Daniel Sakes, whose firm provides an online marketplace for vertical apps.
Targeted to hybrid physical-virtual-cloud IT environments, Acronis Backup & Recovery 11 is designed to help businesses trim maintenance, support, and licensing costs.
Cloud-based software lets remote workers clock in and out over the phone or the Internet.
Support and maintenance were once the only roles for SMB IT staff, but now they are active participants in revenue generation, according to a Zoomerang survey.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms can be effective ways to market your company, but only if you do it right. Power up your efforts with these tips from Web-based application provider Wildfire.
Here's a Web app that you don't need a lot of money or technical know-how to use.
Online peer-to-peer investment service breaks new ground, connects entrepreneurs with start-ups and SMBs
When it comes to written communication with customers, letting your personality shine through and soliciting feedback are among the important considerations.
Cloud-based software gives solution providers a way to put their contracting work on autopilot.
By merging SEO and social media, the software seeks to help smaller companies boost site traffic and online marketing campaigns.
When putting your site under a microscope, make sure you're giving people something they can use while entertaining them, interacting with them, and giving them something for free.
CT Corporation offers small and midsize businesses suggestions for staying aligned with government regulations and other legal guidelines.
Companies can use cloud-based software from NetProspex to trade names, numbers, email addresses, and social media information.
With the release of CrunchConnect, SalesCrunch is taking sales presentations to a whole new level. Part webconferencing tool, part presentation tracker, the Web-based CrunchConnect allows companies to capture and measure real-time customer engagement.
What would you pay somebody--or a firm--to develop a mobile application for your business? I'm talking about an app that lets your customers use their smartphones to get news about your company, check out promos, and browse through products.
Did you know that the most widely used social media channel for small and midsize businesses are company pages on Facebook? Or that SMBs are ditching e-mail marketing in favor of social media advertising?
Security vendor TriGeo Network Security continues to build its partner base and push more sales through the channel. But company executives say the focus isn't so much on numbers; it's on forming strategic alliances with qualified solution providers.
Now even small retailers can have an e-storefront, thanks to a Vancouver, B.C.-based company called Wishpond. Last week, the company took the wraps off its Merchant Offering, which allows retail operations to manage all of their online marketing initiatives in one place.
Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg isn't the only young whiz making waves in the social media world. Justin Graves, who's just 26 years old, has used his copious brain power to build the algorithms that power Social Radar, a product from Infegy.
Even if you're a bricks-and-mortar operation, your website is a "storefront," so make sure it looks good and gives users everything they need without having to dig. Is your site as good as it can be?
Have you started using social media to sell your products or services? If your answer is yes, you're moving in the right direction. Here's another question: Have you incorporated social media into your customer support strategy?
Say hello to yaM, yet another company that's putting in its two cents about how to improve business meetings. This week yaM (for "yet another meeting") unveiled the public beta of its self-named application, which provides tools for improving brainstorming, analyzing priorities, and enhancing collaboration.
Search engine marketing is hot right now, but doing it effectively can be a challenge for small businesses that don't have the time or resources to learn its ins and outs. That's why a number of companies are coming out with products that simplify SEM/SEO for SMBs.
We know the use of social media is exploding in the business world, but what can vendors of these solutions do to earn more mind--and market--share from small and midsize businesses? The SMB Group will have some concrete answers soon.
Nowadays, marketing your business is a different ball game than it was even six months or a year ago. Radio and print media are being eclipsed by social networking and e-mail messaging. But one thing hasn't changed, and it probably never will: how you follow up with prospective and existing customers.
A Wall Street veteran, Jeff Ramson saw first-hand how difficult it can be for a small, fledgling company to get noticed. It occurred to him that he could merge his traditional investment expertise with social media to help these emerging operations gain some visibility and, ultimately, traction in the marketplace. That's why he started ProActive Capital Resources Group.
Are you a small-business owner or independent contractor on the lookout for an easy-to-use webconferencing tool? Well, your search may be over, now that a San Francisco-based company called SlideShare has unveiled Zipcast.
There's been a fair amount of buzz about cloud computing being the enemy of the channel. But Leonard Chung isn't buying it. He says there's actually a lot of opportunity for solution providers in the cloud space. They just need to work with the right vendors.
Constant Contact just shelled out a cool $15 million to build out its social media platform. That's how confident company executives are that social networking is the key to success for small businesses.
IBM has a message for its channel partners: Sell services! It's not exactly a new message, but it's an important one, and the vendor is putting more muscle behind it than ever before.
Freelancers and very small businesses, I'd like you to meet Milton. He could be your next hire, and he won't demand nearly the salary of his less…uh, human…cohorts. Think Milton's a robot? Guess again.
More and more small businesses are flocking to Manta to promote themselves and connect with peers. According to comScore, a marketing research company, the number of unique visitors to Manta's website increased 184% from October 2009 to October 2010.
Last week I wrote about what SMB VARs look for in vendor partners. Now I want to talk about what solution providers look for in their vendor's partner programs.
In a recent presentation, marketing coach and guru Robin Robins told an interesting story. It's about a social experiment conducted by the Washington Post a few years ago.
SMBs, you've probably been wracking your brain for the past few years to come up with ways to do more with less. And you've probably harnessed all your creativity and tenacity to pull it off, right? But if you're finally running out of ideas, you might want to consider deploying process automation software.
Government contractors and agencies, like everybody else, are feeling the burn of tough financial times. So how is it that one of those players grew by leaps and bounds in 2010--and has been growing steadily, in fact, since opening its doors about 14 years ago?
In the years I've spent writing about technology, I've given a fair amount of attention to discussing what vendors look for in their VAR partners. But what about the flip side of the coin?
In one brief video, a Flipo clock makes the living-space rounds, showcasing its simple design and ability to sit in four different positions on nightstands, kitchen counters, and even bathtub rims. In another, designer Daniel Michalik talks about his studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., the materials he uses, and the design process.
A worldwide survey has revealed some disheartening news about U.S.-based SMBs: They're not feeling very confident about their disaster recovery and backup solutions.
Did you know that more than 33,000 new businesses are created in the United States every week? A more important question: How do you get yourself noticed in such a huge crowd?
Pop Quiz: Which is the most popular wireless device among SMBs: a) Apple iPad b) Android c) good ol' cellphone (voice and text only)? Did you pick a), feeling confident that forward-looking entrepreneurs can't resist Apple's latest power gadget? How about the Google-based Android? No doubt, the TV ads promise a sort of futuristic high for those who harness its power.
There's good news for SMB solution providers that want to help their customers run a more secure operation. Blue Coat Systems, which traditionally sells security solutions to the enterprise, has taken the wraps off of ProxyOne, a preconfigured security appliance for small and midsize businesses.
One of the latest, greatest tech waves is mobility. More and more people are using their wireless devices to communicate, shop, conduct business, and socialize. But what about SMBs? Are they, too, climbing aboard the mobile bandwagon?
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take inventory of your business. What are you doing well? Identify your strengths and celebrate them. What do you need to improve? Identify those areas, too, and work hard to make things better.
It's no secret that more and more businesses are flying high these days. That is, they're computing in the cloud to save money and resources. But did you know that SMBs are one of the largest consumers of the cloud? And that, according to IDC, the SMB cloud market is expected to grow more than threefold in the next three years, from $16.5 billion to more than $55.5 billion by 2014?
Hey, small-business owners: Have you ever considered being a plate-spinner in the circus? You know the people I'm talking about, right? They'll dazzle you with deftness, slay you with their sleight of hand. How do they do it? How do they keep so many balls…uh, I mean plates…in the air without having them smash to the ground?
Remember last week's post about the building blocks of SMB success? We discussed three tips from entrepreneur Clate Mask: Sell Stuff Online, Supercharge Your Website, and Grow Through Partners.
Whether you have a handful of employees or hundreds, you could always use some guidance now and then, couldn't you? That's why I share tips with you whenever possible--ideas and suggestions from entrepreneurs who are in the trenches every day and have learned a thing or two about running a small business.
The digital age has given us many wonderful things--among them, smartphones, online shopping (and banking), telecommuting, and social networking. But as with anything else, there's a darker side too. Alas, thanks to technology, we now have some not-so-wonderful things to contend with: Spam. Viruses and malware. Identity theft.
So, what exactly lies ahead in the new year for small and midsize businesses? One firm predicts that mobility, integration, and collaboration will be key.
It's that time of year again. Holiday songs on the radio, New Year's resolutions, and prognostications for the coming 12 months. The SMB Group, a market research firm based in Northborough, Mass., has taken out its crystal ball, and here's what the firm anticipates for small and midsize businesses in 2011.
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, right? On Venus, there's allegedly a lot more touchy-feely, emotional stuff going on…you know, talking, crying, connecting. Well, according to a study by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, there's a lot more of something else going on too: social networking.
Are you a small-business owner who finds yourself micromanaging things lest everything isn't done perfectly? Do you want more from your employees? Here are some tips for encouraging excellence from your team.
Are you sick and tired of all the media hype around Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook? I hope not, because I'm now going to blog about the social networking behemoth once again. This time, I'll start by citing a stat that the controversial exec shared recently about his company.
Constant Contact, a provider of marketing and survey tools for SMBs, has upped the ante by integrating its product offerings with social media and marketing services from the likes of HootSuite, Yelp, and Foursquare.
Pop Quiz: How can a business turn a mish-mash of data into a neat set of statistics it can use to make intelligent decisions about day-to-day operations? Hint: The answer is a technology I mentioned in one of last week's blogs.
On Wednesday, I wrote a blog about the results of a recent study by the SMB Group. The topic? The top four technology trends and how SMBs can leverage them to grow their businesses. The "winners" were social media management, mobile commerce, application marketplaces, and business intelligence/analytics.
A recent report from the SMB Group reveals the top four technologies that small and midsize businesses will likely be focusing on in the coming months: social media management, mobile commerce, application marketplaces, and business intelligence/analytics.
Think you have to be perfect all the time to succeed? That your business will be "blacklisted" if you make a mistake or if something happens that makes your operation appear less-than-stellar? Not so. In fact, there's one exec who believes you should embrace your humanity, and, as we all know, to err is human.
Justyn Howard knows a little something about small business. That's because he heads up a small company himself: Sprout Social, a Chicago-based operation with about 17 employees. So he understands that SMBs can't afford not to be part of the social media conversation, and that they need simple, intuitive ways to leverage all that social networking has to offer.
I was on the phone the other day, on hold and deep in "MuzakLand," when a holiday song came on. That same night, I ran to the store for a few items and was surprised to see cardboard snowflakes and Santas festooned from the ceilings. Is it my imagination, or is the holiday season starting earlier every year?
Your network has arrived! That's the message channel partners get when they visit Microsoft's partner website these days. After years spent refining and re-refining its partner initiatives, the software behemoth has finally unveiled the fruits of its labor.
Small businesses: Imagine having a robot that does certain jobs for you. Maybe it handles your payroll every other Friday. Or perhaps it does automatic backups, job scheduling, or event log monitoring. You don't have to pay it a salary, and you don't have to give it annual performance reviews.
When I hear "online advertising," I think about those annoying pop-up ads that get in my way whenever I'm trying to read something on the Web. But that's probably because I spend most of my time online searching for information and jumping from site to site. For the social networkers of the world, visiting the Internet is probably a different story, right?
Love it or hate it, social networking is here to stay…at least for a while. Undoubtedly, websites like Facebook are appealing for a lot of reasons: You can connect with friends and family members who live far away; you can satisfy your curiosity about a former classmate; you can find out which Italian restaurant in your area has the best pasta primavera; and, if you're a business owner, you can tap the power of word-of-mouth to ratchet up sales.
First there was Google Places, which let businesses list themselves for all the web to see. Then there was Tags, which allowed users to expand those listings with coupons, photos, videos, etc. Now Google has announced the beta of Boost, an online advertising solution targeting small businesses.
If you're an SMB that's decided to take on social media, I commend you. The world of Twitter and Facebook can be an intimidating one to navigate, but it can also yield dividends in the way of enhanced customer loyalty and new business.
LifeSize, a division of Logitech, has taken the wraps off a product that could make videoconferencing easy, affordable, and scalable for small and midsize businesses.
If you're a small business owner, chances are good that you're using technology in some way, whether with a website, e-mail, or something as rudimentary as a cell phone. But chances are just as good that you could be using technology more -- and more productively -- without spending a lot of money or adding a tech whiz to your payroll.
After too many Sunday evenings watching his wife juggle phone calls with the kids' music teachers and athletic coaches, Richard Ruben realized that there had to be an easier way. So he found one. This week, his company, SkedgeMe, released its eponymously named "smart" scheduling application.
Some would say that personnel management -- aka hiring and firing -- is part science, part art. While you don't need to have the intellectual wherewithal of a Mensa member or the social savoir faire of a Dale Carnegie type, knowing a thing or two about your company, your market, and what makes people tick can come in handy.
Now that there's computing in the cloud, businesses can deploy and manage online applications faster and easier than ever before. Two companies recently teamed up with hopes of raising the bar even higher. Their focus: full-featured software that can be downloaded on the fly.
IBM has beefed up its cloud-based collaboration offering, LotusLive, with new social networking and e-mail capabilities, and introduced new "value pricing" options that may make the suite more appealing to small businesses with budget constraints. Also, the vendor unveiled two new integrations with third-party providers.
The latest CEO Confidence Index from Vistage International yielded mixed results. While many SMB leaders are confident their firms will enjoy some growth in the year ahead, they also foresee obstacles that need to be cleared.
The Age of the Suite is nigh. Up to now, point solutions for calendaring, document management, e-mail, and other collaborative tasks probably did the trick for most SMBs, but faced with an increasingly mobile work force and a geographically dispersed base of suppliers, partners, and customers, more and more small and midsize businesses are giving collaboration suites serious consideration.
Small businesses have yet another tool at their disposal to leverage social media. This one, called Social Stats, allows users to see at a glance where their e-mail marketing messages have been shared socially, with what frequency, and to what degree of success.
If you're a small business with a website, you'll probably agree that having an online presence has taken your business to new heights. But when's the last time you took a look at that website to make sure it's still the efficient, powerful brand-management tool you envisioned it to be? A stagnant website could lead to stagnant sales.
In these days of climate change, wacky weather patterns, and fast-diminishing natural resources, the work of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is more vital than ever. Today, the agency unveiled NOAALink, a new IT business model, and 10 small businesses are the immediate beneficiaries.
Just about 10 weeks into his stint as the new general manager of IBM's midmarket business, Andy Monshaw has a lot of data to compute. He's spent these past weeks working his way around the globe, talking to everybody from partners and clients to analysts and advisory boards. Now he's putting the pieces together.
Now that it's made its mark in Europe, TBG Digital is hoping to duplicate its successful social media advertising strategy here in the United States.
If you're a small company looking to increase your exposure and win new business, you might want to consider launching an e-mail marketing and/or SEM campaign -- if you haven't already, that is.
Data breaches continue to be a nagging problem in the corporate arena, especially for small and midsize businesses. The primary beneficiaries? Vendors of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) products.
Skype continues is foray into the business arena, this time with a channel program that aims to leverage the relationships SMBs have with their trusted technology advisers.
Have you recently launched a small company but can't come up with a catchy name? Or maybe you've been in business for quite some time and you're stuck on trying to find a good moniker for a new product or service. Or you need to test-drive your new-and-improved website to find out how user-friendly it is.
Last week, we checked in with Infusionsoft co-founder Clate Mask, who shared a list of things we should know about our prospects. Now he tells us what kind of intelligence we should be keeping on our bread and butter -- the clients we already have.
The pension and defined-benefit world didn't particularly want change, especially not the kind of change that Fiona Page was ushering in. She wanted to revolutionize this staid arena where actuaries and trustees had made do with pen and paper for quite some time. She wanted software and servers and algorithms to do some of the work now, because they could do it faster -- much faster.
OK, you're a small business with a bricks-and-mortar shop. You've decided to embrace technology and see how far it takes you, so you've spent some cash on a sharp looking, user-friendly website and a hosting provider that'll manage it for you. You've even jumped on the social media bandwagon and started a Twitter account.
IBM channel partners had something else to cheer about yesterday when the vendor unveiled the latest systems in its POWER7 series. Executives say the new technology is a culmination of IBM's year-long rollout of workload-optimized systems that will help customers reduce IT administration costs while deploying more powerful applications.
If you're a business owner, you probably know by now that selling your product or service requires more than giving prospective customers a laundry list of features. These folks want the nitty-gritty: They want to know how your product is going to make their lives easier, how it will make them more likable (i.e., more popular), how it will make them more productive and happier.
There's certainly no shortage of polls and surveys aimed at gauging how SMBs are feeling about the economy, and about how it might affect their businesses. Here are some results from two of the latest reports.
The vendor has timed its inaugural partner conference to coincide with the release of its updated customer relationship management software.
IBM and its technology partners are using data from the vendor's Commuter Pain Surveys to make transportation systems more intelligent. The most recent study, whose findings were revealed just a few weeks ago, was conducted globally, not just in the United States, for the first time in three years.