Commentary
1/28/2008
01:01 AM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
Commentary

DEMO 08 Showcases Small Business Innovations

Look for a handful of innovative small-business-oriented product introductions at this weeks Demo08 conference in the California desert. Just dont count on the products arriving on time or truly changing the way your company does business.



Look for a handful of innovative small-business-oriented product introductions at this weeks Demo08 conference in the California desert. Just dont count on the products arriving on time or truly changing the way your company does business.I got a quick preview of the line-up at the DEMO 08 conference in Palm Desert, and I found a surprising number of products aimed at small and midsize companies. Always interesting, DEMO often seems to concentrate on interesting technology and consumer applications, but this time there seems to be lots of goodies for business folks as a well, with emphasis on messaging and scheduling applications and recruiting tools.

Designed specifically for small businesses the Web-based CatalystOffice suite integrates email, document management, calendar, contacts, and IM applications, The big deal is a per office, not per user, pricing model -- that starts with a free 1GB per month.

Toktumi  talk to me, get it?  was built to provide easy-to-set up unified communications for small offices and home offices (SOHO). The system combines links desk phones and PCs to offer office phone service with auto attendant, instant conferencing, and the ability to place calls by typing names or keywords into your computer.

Scheduling meetings is hard enough within a company  its even harder when dealing with customers and suppliers. TimeDriver aims to make it easier by letting businesses proactively invite customers and clients to schedule an appointment by embedding a Schedule Now button in email messages and on Web pages.

DEMO 08 has a couple of recruitment-related products. One is NotchUp, designed to help companies find currently employed candidates who might be open to new opportunities. The idea is that members set an asking price --typically a few hundred dollars or more -- for which theyll interview with a prospective employers. (Ive actually gotten a couple of invitations to join the NotchUp beta this weekend, but and after a couple of attempts I was able to log in. Sad to say, no one has offered to pay me for an interview yet. Seriously, I can see lots of people registering for NotchUp  who wouldn't want to get paid for job interviews? But Im not so sure this will be of as much interest to employers.)

If your company isnt ready to pay for job interviews, maybe you want to build a career site. Standout Jobs offers social-networking-style online recruiting tools to help companies showcase their culture and build relationships with potential hires.

Also riding the social networking wave, Buzkas POPNets are hosted Web applications designed to help customers build branded social networks around your companys products.

Finally, everybody hates dealing with databases. And workers at smaller companies may find themselves trying to build a database without a great deal of technical knowledge or support. With a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model and a unique drag-and-drop interface, blist is designed to make working with relational databases as easy using a spreadsheet, even for non-techies with not IT staff.

All these products sound cool and potentially useful. But Ive learned the hard way that an impressive DEMO pitch doesnt necessarily mean that the product will be available and ready to use any time soon. Ill try to let you know as these products become real and were able to test them out. In the meantime, let us know if you see them out in the wild

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