Software & Services
|Software & Services|
|Accounting / Finance|
|QuickBooks 2008 (Intuit)|
Runner-up: Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 Professional
|Microsoft Office 2007 |
Runner-up: Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium
|Customer / Sales Management|
|ACT by Sage 2008 |
Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords Runner-up: NetSuite CRM
|TalkSwitch 240 VS |
Runner-up: RingCentral DigitalLine VoIP
|GotoMeeting v3.0 |
Runner-up: WebEx WebOffice
Accounting / Finance
When it comes to running a small business, accounting software is as much an office staple as, well, a stapler. Tracking receivables, payables and cash flow is core to any business, but for small companies with little margin for financial error, the right accounting software is crucial.
It's hard to imagine a piece of software more linked to small businesses than QuickBooks. Apparently, you agree as Intuit's accounting package continues to dominate the small business finance market and this year captured 57 percent of vote. While we had some qualms with the upgrade policy, there's no denying the popularity of the 2008 version, which lets you track billable hours from within Microsoft Outlook. You can now send e-mails directly from QuickBooks via Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, allowing you to more easily distribute invoices, receipts and reports.
While you have to admire QuickBooks' lead in the accounting race, Microsoft isn't taking its foot off the gas. Its Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 captured 20 percent of the vote to take runner-up honors, moving past last year's runner-up, Peachtree.
In addition to being able to sell through eBay, Microsoft Office Accounting now features more precise access control, better-integrated point-of-sale features, improved synchronization with Outlook and the capability to track and forecast inventory.
The word "Productivity" covers a lot of territory and so does this year's winner. It was no surprise to see Microsoft Office 2007 win, but its margin of victory was a bit surprising as it dominated the category to take nearly 60 percent of the vote. The new version of Office sports a new interface, which no doubt has caused many Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access veterans to shout, "Why?" The adjustment to the new, cleaner Ribbon interface is worth the effort.
Claiming the runner-up spot in a bit of a surprise is Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium, which nabbed an impressive 31 percent of the votes. This powerful graphics suite doesn't come cheap its $1,799 estimated street price is a jaw-dropping figure for many SMBs. But for a business with demanding graphics needs, that price includes a complete library of software including InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Acrobat and other applications in an integrated suite.
Customer / Sales Management
The first rule of sales is to know your customer. And that adage has taken on new meaning in the age of customer relationship management and business intelligence. The capability to know more about your customers and potential customers has paved the way for a slew of new products to collect and manage information. But this year's winners and runners-up are familiar names.
After a year in the runner-up chair, ACT by Sage 2008 celebrated its 20th anniversary by recapturing the crown, or at least a share of it. This year's version of ACT touts customizable Reporting and Activity Dashboards among other new features.
Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords tied for top honors (Salesforce.com won last year). In a move aimed squarely at small and mid-sized businesses, Salesforce replaced Salesforce Team Edition with Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google Adwords in 2007. Google's Adwords technology now comes with Salesforce Group Edition, allowing for integration of Adwords into the CRM aervice as well as sponsored placement within Google.
Earning this year's runner-up award is NetSuite CRM, another Web-based pioneer, with 17 percent of the vote and momentum on its side for next year.
VoIP is no longer a curiosity for small businesses. It's now a proven money-saver that offers the added benefit of helping little guys look much larger to their customers.
"Large" certainly fits the field of VoIP products currently available to SMBs, which makes choosing one a difficult decision for small businesses. It was also a difficult decision in this year's voting: In one of the most closely contested of our 25 battles for supremacy, TalkSwitch 240 VS 323 edged RingCentral DigitalLine VoIP by six percentage points, 32 to 26 percent.
This year's winner TalkSwitch offers hold, transfer and conference calls, voicemail, auto attendants, music on hold and ring groups. But you also get advanced features such as voicemail to e-mail, multi-lingual prompts and remote extensions for $695.
Announced last fall, RingCentral's DigitalLine VoIP allows the company's customers to place and receive calls via landline, mobile and VoIP as needed. And like TalkSwitch it excels at helping small operations looks much larger over the phone.
It's a familiar theme with small businesses everywhere. You have a partner here, a remote worker there, a key vendor somewhere else. You need to work with all of them sometimes just a few of them altogether in real-time. That's why many of you are turning to collaboration services.
Taking top honors with 37 percent of the vote is GotoMeeting v3.0. The latest version of Citrix Online's popular service features, among other things, integration with Microsoft Office 2007, Google Talk, Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. It also provides a free conference call service.
Taking the runner-up award with 27 percent of the vote is WebEx WebOffice. No stranger to the Small Business Computing Excellence in Technology awards, the hosted suite added Web-based e-mail featuring antivirus and spam guard, live search and 1GB storage for each mail box.
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