What does a $500 million IBM deal with a major insurance company have to do with your small business’s IT needs? It could be important to small business owners who run a small IT company too. If you missed the news most important to your small business this week, don’t worry. The Small Business Trends editorial team has you covered. Here’s our roundup:
New IBM Deal Reveals the Future of the Cloud and IT . What relevance can a $500 million deal between tech bohemoth IBM and insurance industry client The Hartford to small businesses? The arrangement shows the growing adoption of cloud services as a business necessity, writes Chris Miles, founder and CEO of IT leader Miles Technologies. Miles says it also shows that businesses are looking for IT partners not just providers.
Cash that Check Using Nothing but Your Smartphone . New imaging technology from Mitek Systems almost eliminates the need to visit your local bank, the company says. Mitek says the technology lets you take a quick snapshot of your check and then use that image to make a remote deposit. The company says it’s already partnered with 2,000 banks and other financial institutions to make this new kind of payment possible to customers — including small business owners.
Google Acquires High Altitude Drone Company Titan Aerospace . So what does the search engine giant need with a squadron of high flying, solar-powered drones? One purpose might be a project to beam the Internet to underserved areas of the planet. The benefits for Google’s business are obvious. But obviously greater Internet access could also help small business owners in remote areas and increase the number of customers you can reach online.
Cortana Is Microsoft’s Answer to Digital Assistants Like Apple’s Siri.  She may be named for an intelligent computer from the future in the popular video game Halo. But today the name also applies to a digital assistant rivaling Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Microsoft recently unveiled Cortana as part of its new Windows Phone 8.1 update. Could she soon be the digital assistant for your business?
Get in the Driver’s Seat Managing Your Vehicle Fleet with Fleetmatics.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re company has a thousand trucks or just two or three. Fleetmatics says its software allows even a small plumbing, pest control, HVAC or beverage distribution service manage their vehicles more effectively. Fleetmatics enables you to minimize vehicle wear and tear, optimize routes and improve safety.
Sony Laptop Batteries Could be a Hazard.  Sony is warning customers who bought its VAIO Fit 11A/Flip PC to stop using the device. The computer’s non-removable battery could overheat causing burns on the devises housing. The company says details will be coming to affected customers about how the problem will addressed.
Consumers Prefer a Business with a Social Media Presence . In fact, Internet hosting and domain name provider GoDaddy says seven out of 10 would rather do business with your brand only if it has a strong presence on channels like Facebook and Twitter. Not only that, but the company says those customers will tend to react negatively if they find outdated information about your business online. What’s a time starved entrepreneur to do? GoDaddy’s new service Get Found is one answer.
Be Sure to Include a Video Link in Your Next Email . Why, you ask? Well, research shows there’s a 96 percent greater chance the recipient will click through. Don’t believe us? Check out this new video, “Show Me Something,” created by Shutterstock with data obtained through comScore. The video also includes other data potentially helpful to the small business marketer. For example, people searching for you online are more likely to click on a video.
How Popular is Entrepreneurism Really ? Well, if you use its popularity as a field of study on college campuses as a yardstick, not very. It’s interesting because the hype would suggest otherwise, says Scott Shane. Let’s dive a bit deeper with the real facts here, and see what’s actually going on.
How Does Color Drive Emotion ? Obviously, the answer to this question has major implications for small business owners and marketers. Everything from how you design your logos and website to how you create your products and setup your store is hanging on this. Put across the wrong vibe, and you’ll never make that sale. You can probably kiss that word of mouth reference goodbye too. Here’s more small businesses need to know.
Retail & Marketing
Bigcommerce Increases Reach Into Small Business Commerce . Bigcommerce is known for the big brands that are using it to get eCommerce sites up and running quickly. Clients include Gibson Guitar, YETI Coolers and many others. But the company says that Bigcommerce isn’t exclusively for major national brands. Small businesses can and should be taking advantage of what the eCommerce platform can offer.
Bet You Didn’t Know About These Amazon Payment Services . You know about Amazon’s retail services for selling everything from books to fishing equipment. But do you know about the range of Amazon payment services the online retailer already offers, or plans to offer, to small businesses and consumers? If not, let us clue you in. Below are some of the programs either already in place or in development for Amazon.
A Plug-and-Play Customer Loyalty Program for Small Businesses . Punch cards for your repeat customers will soon be a thing of the past. But it’s difficult for small businesses to afford those plastic key cards that you might get from a place like a grocery store or gas station. Huzzah Media says its new Huzzah Loyalty platform is one solution.
Why Your Yahoo Local Reviews Are Disappearing . Let’s say you’ve amassed years worth of mostly positive reviews on your Yahoo Local listing. Then, all of a sudden, your Yahoo Local reviews disappeared and they aren’t showing – but Yelp reviews are showing instead. This is exactly what happened to Dan Tringale, owner of Colonial Hardwood Flooring of Lexington, Mass.
Heartbleed: What You Do and Do Not Need To Worry About . If you have a business website, you’ve probably already heard, and are worried, about the Heartbleed Bug. Simply put, the Heartbleed Bug is a flaw in the SSL certificate used by some websites. That flaw might allow passwords, credit card numbers and other data to be leaked as a result. SSL certificates are usually limited to websites that deal with online financial transactions.
The Effect of Heartbleed on Commonly Used Small Business Websites . As you might know by now, Heartbleed is a security flaw that enables unauthorized users to access your encrypted information. When you visit a website through a “secure connection,” in theory the information is encrypted and can’t be accessed.
Facebook Ads Are Getting Bigger…And Probably More Expensive . Facebook is getting more determined to make sure that you see their ads, and they’re doing that by greatly increasing the size. In the coming months, new ads will start to appear in the site’s right hand column. Due to their size, they will be more prominent. But Facebook says that there will be fewer of them, too.
ThinkUp: A Totally New Take On Analytics . If you are a social media junkie, you will be familiar with analytics, such as Facebook Insights. But a new service called ThinkUp aims to turn the concept of analytics on its head. It does so by providing information about social media in a totally new, and easy-to-understand way.
Facebook Hack: Programming Language for Improved User Experience . The advent of social media changed the way the world used to be. It’s brought about major transformations in both business and personal lives of people. Among the large number of social media websites which emerged over the years, Facebook has remained a major player. In fact, it was almost the monolith of the social media world for quite some time.
How Does The White House Think Women Dress for Work? . Women work in a variety of different industries and because of that, there isn’t just one way to depict women in the workplace. But that’s what the White House recently tried to do, and the move was met with plenty of criticism. Last week, the Obama administration sent out an email containing a graphic with statistics about the wage gap as part of its campaign for equal pay for women.
U.S. Sen. Shaheen Wants More Loans for Veteran Entrepreneurs . U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wants more loans for veteran entrepreneurs. Shaheen recently introduced the Veteran Entrepreneurship Act. The act aims to lower the cost of Small Business Administration loan programs for military veterans trying to start their own businesses.
Small Business Opinions Divided on Plastic Bag Fees . Dallas recently passed a citywide 5-cent fee on plastic bags. New York City is considering a 10-cent fee. Similar plastic bag fees (or bans) on plastic bags already exist in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Supporters of the fees and bans say they will help raise awareness about the damage these bags do to the environment.
Spotlight on Righteous Marketing: Dedicated to PPC Campaigns . This week we shine the spotlight on Righteous Marketing, a niche marketing agency. This Utah-based company was founded in 2010 by Robert Brady (above) and currently has two employees. Righteous Marketing manages pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns for small businesses to medium sized businesses. WHAT THE BUSINESS IS KNOWN FOR: Deep expertise in pay-per-click advertising.
12 Stunning Flower Arrangements for Administrative Professionals Day . Administrative Professionals Day is a chance to show your appreciation for the person who keeps your business running smoothly. The holiday, which takes place on April 23, is just around the corner. Show your gratitude and appreciation with a stunning floral arrangement. Enter BloomNation.
Solving the Information Exchange Problem in Healthcare Industry . Founders of H2S, who were from the healthcare industry, were aware of an acute pain point in the healthcare industry – information exchange between physicians and home health agencies. More than 50% of home health Medicare claims are denied and most claims are denied due to missing signatures, insufficient documentation, and inaccurate descriptions.
Thrive15: Learn About Business In 15 Minute Bursts . A new educational platform launching next month, called Thrive15, aims to educate people about creating a business. And it does so without the need for an expensive degree. What makes Thrive15 unique is that, instead of overwhelming participants with huge amounts of information and coursework, the platform will focus instead on providing short 15 minute videos.
Tablets for business  image via shutterstock