Winding down the year, this week we have predictions for 2011 from the SMB Group that prominently feature mobile and social computing, Zoho upgrades its CRM is offering again, MS’s Small Business Server goes to RTM and AVG shows companies how to protect themselves.

SMB Computing in 2011

It’s getting to the end of the year and just about everyone is getting into the “what-will-happen-in-2011” mode. The SMB Group is no different, publishing its predictions for SMB software next year.

Needless to say, mobile computing and social media loom large for small businesses in the coming year -- as they do for just about any other enterprise on the planet -- but mobile commerce appears to be where the SMB Group thinks all this is heading.

In short its predictions are as follows:

  • Mobile commerce lifts off.
  • SMBs demand that vendors bring order to social media chaos.
  • App stores become a key information source and channel for SMBs.
  • The shift to cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) becomes irreversible.
  • A new cloud channel model forms.
  • The transition to the insight economy gets a bit easier.
  • Tablets add fuel to the mobile applications explosion.
  • Better, faster integration becomes a key business solution differentiator.
  • Hybrid computing requirements accelerate virtualization adoption.
  • Unified communication and collaboration suites continue to converge.

Leaving aside the demand to bring order to social media chaos, they all look quite reasonable. If you want more detailed explanations you can download the full report here.

Zoho Upgrades CRM

Zoho (news, site) continues to upgrade its CRM offering, this time around it will integrate with QuickBooks and telephony systems.

Zoho CRM for QuickBooks gives SMBs and other users a convenient, automated way to synchronize customer data between the two applications.

By transferring customer data between the two systems, organizations maintain complete and up-to-date customer information, reduce duplicate data entry and maintain consistency. Zoho CRM for QuickBooks lets users import, export or synchronize data either manually or automatically.

Zoho PhoneBridge lets telemarketers, sales reps and customer support agents leverage contact data into Zoho CRM to more effectively engage customers and prospects in all the outbound -- and inbound -- call activities.

Pricing for Zoho CRM for QuickBooks is US$ 25 per organization per month. Zoho PhoneBridge is priced at US$ 6 per user per month.

KnowledgeTree Integrates with MS Office

KnowledgeTree (news, site) continues to build its cloud offering for the SMB sector with this week’s new release offering Office integration and new pricing levels that drop as low as US$ 35/month.

The new features collectively aim to address what is increasingly seen as a need to improve the abilities of workers across entire enterprises to share and collaborate on information.

Citing a recent report from AIIM, Knowledge Tree says that even in small enterprises, the growth of information passing through companies is so great that only a well thought-out enterprise content management deployment will impose order.

Knowledge Tree for Office enables users to interact with KnowledgeTree content and collaborate with other KnowledgeTree users directly from within their Microsoft Office productivity apps.

Office Add-ins let them browse the repository, upload, download, search and email documents from within Microsoft Office applications -- including Microsoft Outlook. They can also drag and drop documents into the repository from Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX or Linux desktops. Find out more here.

MS SBS 2011 Goes RTM

Microsoft (news, site) has just announced that that both Windows SBS 2011 (Small Business Server) and Windows SBS 2011 Premium Add-on have hit the RTM milestone.

In a post this week on the official SBS blog, Microsoft described it as a server that is designed and priced for small businesses with up to 75 users.

Volume license customers will be able to buy it early next month with a trial copy available for download by the middle of the month.

The software will reach OEMs including Acer, Dell, Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard in February 2011.

In November Microsoft confirmed that the standard edition of the software, previously known as Windows SBS 7, would carry a US price tag of around US$ 1,096, with CALs costing US$ 72.

Protecting Your Business

Finally, to finish up this week, something for free. Research commissioned by anti-virus and Internet security vendor, AVG Technologies (news, site) shows that while most small business owners understand the need to protect their IT systems, few are putting procedures into practice to secure their highly valuable assets from cyber crime.

As a result of the survey, AVG (AU/NZ) has released the AVG Small Business Security Guide to help shield SMBs from the worst of the worst.

You can download this for free and while some items appear to be bordering on the blatantly obvious, it never ceases to amaze how often the very obvious things get overlooked.

So check it out. The Guide is an 11-page action template covering the establishment of policies and processes to secure workplace practices and deliver governance over technology use.