Dell, the world's second largest computer maker, announced an expansion of online resources aimed at cost-conscious businesses, including a "Stimulus Learning Center" and a live chat feature that provides online access to Dell sales representatives.
The centerpiece of the expansion is an upgrade to the Small and Medium Business Solutions Center, which features interactive content, industry research, tag clouds and enhanced search capabilities. The site offers advice on technology, marketing and business ownership, among other topics. The site is further broken down into specific topics such as maximizing battery life, choosing server-based networks or determining which printer is best for your business.
According to research firm IDC, vendor/manufacturers' Websites are the second most important resource for SMBs (small and medium-size businesses) to learn about new technologies, cited by 34.3 percent of small firms and 34.9 percent of midsize firms. The Small and Medium Business Solutions Center, previously Small Business 360, has also expanded to include the SLC (Stimulus Learning Center), which can help entrepreneurs in the United States take advantage of opportunities created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
On the SLC Web page, business owners can choose from a selection of white papers and government resources, and the page breaks down stimulus specifics by business sector like health care, infrastructure and energy.
Paul Henri Ferrand, vice president of Dell small and medium business global marketing, said the entrepreneurial spirit of the world's SMBs will be the driving force behind any global economic recovery.
"The modern entrepreneur is looking to technology vendors for much more than a great shopping experience; they want information, best practices and to connect with the greater SMB global community," he said. "That's where Dell's resources like the Solutions Center, live chat and social site networks come in-providing concrete answers and advice developed, in many cases, by our best experts: our customers."
Dell said it is also investing to help customers connect with each other and share opinions through its community forums, accepted customer solutions, product ratings and reviews, opinion aggregation site IdeaStorm, and the Small Business Blog. Dell is also helping businesses connect on social networking and sharing sites Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube.
A recent survey of SMB visitors to Dell.com shows 62 percent said the primary reason they came to the Website was to research products and pricing. In order to facilitate further communication between Dell and its customer base, the company now offers Live Chat, which connects customers to Dell technology representatives who can offer technology consultation or simply answer questions about configurations, services or pricing. The service is available to Dell customers worldwide.