Verizon Launches New Small Business Center





Verizon has lauched a new Small Business Center Web site.  The company has had a website for its small business customers, but this is a new and updated version of the website launched just this week.  (Take the tour.)

At the Small Business Center you can set up a profile using the professional networking module; get access to Verizon products you have subscribed to such as Internet service; find discounts on business products and services; participate in the Verizon Business Link Rewards program (similar to a credit card rewards program); and get access to news and information such as the New York Times Small Business section.   

The centerpiece of the site is the Verizon Collaboration Center, powered by Cisco WebEx technology.  It functions as an online workspace.  A small business team can use it as an intranet to collaborate among  employees and co-workers.  You can invite outside parties, such as clients and/or vendors, to your workspace.  Users can share documents and calendars, access email, and manage / track projects.

With the Verizon Web Meeting add-on, you can hold online meetings.  From inside the Collaboration Center you also can subscribe to a list of third party collaboration tools.  For instance, I noticed one of the tools you can sign up for is eXpresso, an application that allows you to share Excel spreadsheets and other documents securely online (George Langan, the CEO, is one of our guest experts here at Small Business Trends).

“Small businesses need a lot more than e-mail and Internet access to be competitive, especially in today’s challenging economy,” said Monte Beck, Verizon’s vice president for small-business products and services. “We built the Verizon Small Business Center to offer small businesses leading-edge technology tools and business resources to assist them in becoming more agile, productive and efficient – all appropriately scaled for the needs and budget requirements of a small business, and all conveniently integrated on a single Web portal.

“What we’ve created with the new Verizon Small Business Center is similar to what an information technology department would build for a large corporation, but at a fraction of the price,” said Beck.

The Verizon Collaboration Center is a hosted service that you can sign up for online.  For one to five employees it costs $24.99 per month.  And you can access other Verizon services you subscribe to from the new small business site.

Verizon Small Business Center Networking

Other features are free and do not require payment. For instance, you can be listed in the online networking section (pictured above) free of charge.  There are two kinds of profiles:  a personal profile for you as an individual, called a professional profile.  There’s also a profile for the business, too.  Profiles are searchable by keyword, allowing users to actively network.

Verizon is also kicking off a free webinar series a couple of times a month.  UPDATE:  Verizon has asked me to do a webinar for them — I will be speaking on a business topic (not about Verizon products.)  I’ll provide details about the webinar once I have them.

13 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

13 Reactions

  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Martin Lindeskog

    Interesting to see that bigger telecom companies are setting up small biz centers on the net. I have to check if the big companies here in Sweden are doing the same thing. The three big players here are: Telia (old monopoly company), Tele2 (belonging to the Metro group of companies) and 3 (Swedish – Chinese consortium).

  2. I’ve had a look at the small business center verizon put up and it’s pretty good. Seems like it is a good place for small businesses to come together, collaborate on ideas, and hopefully throw eachother a little work. I am concerned however that this website will be abused. I’m sure verizon will find out in good time that many of the people they attract will just be signing up to make a quick profile so they can advertise their business. It’s a growing problem with sites like this. People try and create a useful and beneficial workspace and so many people just make a free profile to advertise their business or link to their site rather than actively participate with other businesses. If verizon was smart they would add a feature that would make profiles inactive if it goes un-used over a certain period of time.

  3. Kare Anderson

    Even at that sort reasonable pricing, Anita, what kinds of small business owners will be early adopters of that mix of services – paying to then see if the collaboration-supporting tools are:
    • easy enough to use
    • sufficiently useful –
    • … enough times?

    What if this Cisco/Verizon partnership first asked 10 – 20 small biz owners (including you) to test drive the service, give them feedback, then refine to offering – then use involve social media (including here) to tell that story, then make the offer of this new bundled service?

  4. Interesting…I’ll have to go in and take a look around. I like that you are allowed to post profiles for free. But paying $24.99 per month for the other stuff, I don’t know about that. I will go in with an open mind though. 🙂

  5. Joel Libava

    Anita,
    This seems like a smart thing to do. Since they purchased Alltel, they may be able to really dominate the cell phone area, with a value added thing like this.

    As a matter of fact, you should show them how to run it!

    {I am not kidding}

    Now, let’s see if they are really in the know. {Web 2.0 wise}

    If they are, they will find this article of yours, and comment on it.

    The Franchise King
    Joel Libava

  6. “Tell us your primary business goal”

    I like that. it is very simple and allows the user to be guided through their website. I am not sure if I would use this but it seems like there could be some useful information on here.

  7. From watching the video tour, it seems like they have a good bit to offer. I’m just not really sure that I would have enough use for the features on an everyday basis. I will have to consider setting up a free profile though.

  8. Verizon has a lot of catching up to do. They’re competing with AT&T’s iPhone, and now they’ll have to compete with established online collaboration companies like HyperOffice. Hard to compete with over a decade of experience. For those interested in comparison shopping, I recommend trying out a free 30-day trial with HyperOffice – The Total Collaboration Suite.

  9. Anita Campbell

    Hi Kare,

    From reviewing this new site, my take is that it is best suited for small businesses with at least a couple of employees who are distributed georgraphically. It also seems particularly well suited if the small business has vendors or clients that they collaborate with regularly, particularly if they use the Webex conferencing solution.

    And those who are already Verizon customers will probably find it a value-add.

    That’s an interesting idea about testing out the service and providing feedback. I didn’t ask them if they used any kind of focus group or customer group for input ….

    I just learned that Verizon is having me do a couple of webinars with them… maybe I’ll get a chance for a deeper look … who knows.

    (I just updated the article to disclose that I am doing the webinars, also.)

    Anita

  10. I love how big companies such as Verizon provided small business owners a venue to explore and help them grow their businesses. A very clear indication that small businesses are now very well recognized and are now given that importance they deserve. 😉

  11. all all about ranking .

  12. I’m glad there is a renewed interest in supporting, and pitching, small businesses (especially by big business). Thanks for the post.

  13. Hi All!

    I’m Ellen Yu at Verizon and I support our SMB team. The conversation around the newly redesigned Verizon Small Business Center – http://www.business.verizon.net — is very interesting and I’m pleased to see the various posts.

    Verizon’s roots in providing advanced solutions to businesses of all sizes goes back a long way. Verizon doesn’t just offer phone, Internet and TV service; we also offer tools like security, online backup and storage and small businesses can think of us as their “virtual CIO” that helps handle a SMB’s IT and communications needs – allowing them to focus on running their business.

    In concert to the launch of this newly redesigned Verizon Small Business Center, we integrated Cisco/WebEx’s collaboration product and customized it for our portal. We also made the new portal available to some SMBs who provided feedback on the portal and the Verizon Collaboration Center.

    We chose to work with Cisco/WebEx because they are the leader in providing online collaborations tools. Working with them, we hope to enable employees, customers, and partners to use an easy-to-use interface to work together regardless of their location.

    Online collaboration, once used primarily by large companies, has been tailored and priced specifically for the small – and medium-sized businesses. Check out this recent blog that I just found which speaks about collaboration as the most valuable small business tool: http://cdblog.centraldesktop.com/articles/2009/04/best-small-business-software.html.

    Verizon’s online collaboration product for SMBs is competitively priced at $24.99 per month for 5 users. Now SMBs can receive the first 30 days of the Verizon Collaboration Center service free with a one year subscription. For more info go to http://tiny.cc/3qTYA.

    We’re very excited that Anita Campbell has agreed to speak at the next free Webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.

    Anita’s presentation on Wednesday, May 6, will focus on the 10 business tips for small businesses to keep costs down. For more information on and to register for the Webinar please visit http://www.verizon.net/webinars.

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