Small Business News Briefs

ACCPAC Gets Friendly with Outlook, Notes and DB2
ACCPAC International, a subsidiary of Computer Associates, recently released a major upgrade to the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) application for small and mid-size businesses. ACCPAC CRM version 5.6 includes major enhancements to improve integration capabilities with other business management applications.

The upgrade means the application is quicker to deploy and easier to use, it also means that small businesses are not locked-in to proprietary technology strategies. New features of ACCPAC CRM 5.6 include comprehensive integration capabilities with Microsoft Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes, and support for IBM DB2.

ACCPAC Solution Provider and Development Partner Stuart McKelvie of 21st Century Systems said the new features in ACCPAC CRM 5.6 as critically important for businesses wanting to avoid vendor lock-in.

“This upgrade is a strong extension of ACCPAC’s strategy of offering customers choice and flexibility, not just through integration to Outlook and Notes, but in working with DB2 and other databases, and of course the ability to deploy on-site or online,” McKelvie said.

Integrating ACCPAC CRM programming with Microsoft Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes means that critical communication applications — such as e-mail — remain flexible and free to interact with other elements of general business process management.

By integrating the application with Microsoft Outlook, users have the option of accessing their entire ACCPAC CRM system from within Microsoft Outlook. Users have complete, two-way integration with Outlook contacts, calendars and tasks, in addition to enhanced e-mail integration.

Similarly, users can also synchronize ACCPAC CRM with Lotus Notes calendars, in addition to previously available e-mail integration capabilities. Plus, users can now synchronize their CRM information to pocket devices that synchronize with Notes.

ACCPAC CRM was already able to integrate with popular database management programs, such as MS SQL, Oracle and Sybase. Now, ACCPAC CRM supports IBM DB2 — a database management system that is gaining popularity in the mid-market.

The new ACCPAC CRM Advanced Customization Wizard provides the ability to rapidly build new functionality and customizations. The easy to use wizard creates new business objects in a matter of minutes, without the need for users to write any code. In addition, administrators can utilize the ACCPAC CRM Component Manager that enables quick packaging and rollout of third party and user-developed add-ons such as industry-specific modules and customizations.

ACCPAC CRM also provides report creation in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, enabling greater control over output and “near publishing” quality reports in color with more control over where the content appears.

ACCPAC CRM is available now for both in-house and online deployment through authorized resellers worldwide. Pricing starts at $1,590 for in-house deployment. New and existing subscribers to, the company’s hosted solution, will enjoy the new features of ACCPAC CRM 5.6 as they are deployed over the next 60 days. Subscriptions start at $995 per year ($17 per named user per month).

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IBM, At Your Disposal
IBM recently expanded of its Asset Recovery Solutions to help small- and medium-sized businesses grappling with how to dispose of PCs, servers and printers they no longer need.

Now small- and medium-sized businesses have the potential to turn unwanted IT equipment into revenue — a welcome option given that industry analysts estimate it ends up costing companies hundreds of dollars to dispose of, re-sell or donate just one PC.

IBM’s asset recovery solution could help small businesses get rid of outdated IBM and non-IBM equipment that tends to go unnoticed and accumulate in storage closets. In “Analyze TCO [Total Cost of Ownership] Issues When Planning PC Disposal,” Gartner Research recommends that companies implement a systematic approach to disposing of obsolete IT equipment — consider the task an ” ongoing part of day-to-day operations.”

IBM’s asset recovery solution also allows companies to dispose of equipment that has no resale value in an environmentally responsible manner. Additionally, IBM offers data overwrite services that comply with new electronic waste and information privacy laws.

IBM will work with the small businesses to identify a disposal option that makes sense for them. The offerings for small and medium businesses through IBM Asset Recovery Solutions include:

  • Cash for IT: IBM Global Financing will purchase surplus or obsolete IT based on its fair market value and absorb any inventory risk during the resale.
  • Asset Disposal: For a small fee, items without recoverable value will be disposed of in accordance with EPA guidelines and meet U.S., federal, state and local laws.
  • Data Overwrite: Customers are responsible for removing all company data from systems before sending any assets to IBM. However, customers can take advantage of an optional disk sanitization and cleansing service to ensure proper overwrite of data. Hard file data is cleansed with a three-times overwrite process so that data is virtually impossible to recover. The option meets U.S. Department of Defense 5220-22-m 3-pass standards. IBM also offers pickup and shipping services, again for a fee.

Obsolete IT equipment is a growing problem in the U.S. Industry analysts at IDC estimate that most corporations store older computer equipment for up to three years at a cost of about $360 per machine. And then they may pay an additional $218 for its eventual disposal. In 2002, the number of obsolete PCs outnumbered the number of new PCs entering the market by about 3.4 million. According to the National Safety Council, more than 315 million computers will have to be recycled or disposed of by next year.

IBM Asset Recovery Solutions provides a quick, cost-effective solution for small and medium businesses — even one-person companies — with a surplus of PC servers, notebooks, desktop PCs, laser printers and monitors. Customers make one phone call to receive a quote from IBM. If the assets are remarketable, IBM pays for the IT equipment. But if the assets have no resale value, customers may pay as little as $25 per item for proper disposal of the equipment.

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Symantec: Small Businesses Fed Up with Spam
Symantec recently completed a study finding that the negative impact of spam on productivity and network resources is motivating small businesses to consider taking substantial steps if the problem worsens. According to a survey of 500 small businesses conducted for Symantec by InsightExpress, spam is a costly and growing business concern that is causing some organizations to consider opting out of e-mail altogether.

“The results from this survey demonstrate that small businesses clearly regard spam as a business problem that threatens to undermine the efficiencies of Internet communication, transaction, and commerce,” said Matthew Moynahan, vice president of Product Management, Client and Host Security, at Symantec. “However, through a combination of technology, vigilance, and best practices, small businesses can significantly reduce the negative impact of spam on their operations.”

The survey found that small businesses are seeing a noticeable increase in spam in their inboxes. More than half (64 percent) of respondents reported an increase in spam over the past six months, with 33 percent noting dramatic increases. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said that spam made up more than half of the email coming into their businesses.

Small businesses are also willing to take steps to reduce their exposure to spam should the problem continue, according to the survey. For example, 42 percent of small businesses said they would consider abandoning e-mail for business correspondence if the spam situation worsened. Fifty-five percent would consider changing their company e-mail addresses to stop spam. Moreover, 56 percent would consider locking down their e-mail server to allow only approved messages, which would also force all users who wanted to correspond with the company via e-mail to go through an approval process first. Thirty-two percent of respondents already invest the time and resources to help curb spam by submitting spam e-mail addresses to blacklist companies.

Spam also garnered a flurry of complaints from respondents. Users’ top complaint, with 63 percent of respondents, was that spam is offensive in nature. Sixty-one percent complained that spam is distracting in the workplace, while 55 percent lamented the loss of productivity resulting from spam. Small business respondents also demonstrated a growing understanding of the potential malevolent impact of spam as 28 percent complained that it contains malicious code, 23 percent said spam is connected to credit card fraud, and 16 percent reported that it is linked to software piracy.

The survey also found that although small businesses spend little time deleting spam messages, they continue to acknowledge the drain on business resources it causes. Fifty-four percent reported that spam imposed business costs in the form of user productivity, followed by server and disk storage space (37 percent), and connection time (35 percent).

To guard against spam and its hazards, small businesses can learn about best practices with a little help from Symantec’s Spam Watch Response Center, which includes the top 10 tips for protecting privacy and avoiding spam scams.

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Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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