Demandbase lets you know when those blue-chip customers are knocking at your virtual door. Its free real-time ticker analyzes your visitors' IP addresses and compares them with information from sources such as Dun & Bradstreet and LexisNexis. With those data, Demandbase can tell you the names of the companies at which many of your visitors work. Click on a company name, and Demandbase will sell you the name and contact information for a lead at that company. Demandbase has been called the iTunes of CRM, and it's almost as affordable: The average cost per lead is just $1.80.
LuckyCal aims to make it easier for you to meet up with friends or business contacts. The free Web tool, which launched in December, integrates your work and personal calendars with those of your employees, friends, and business associates (as long as they give you permission). The main benefit could be for road-weary sales teams; LuckyCal will scan your colleagues' and clients' Outlook calendars and Facebook profiles and e-mail you when they are in your area. LuckyCal plans to charge for an enterprise version that launches later this year.
Three new software programs can help companies cut carbon emissions. Edison (verdiem.com/edison), CO2 Saver (co2saver.snap.com), and Carbon Control Software (carboncontrolsoftware.com) all use Windows power settings to reduce the energy consumed by computers while they are idle. All the programs provide information on how much carbon you have saved, and Edison estimates how much money you have saved as well. The personal versions of the programs are free. Carbon Control Software's business version costs $10.50 and up per license per year and Verdiem, the maker of Edison, has a corporate version that sells for $20 per computer per year. It may be worth the price: Globally, IT infrastructure emits as much carbon as the aviation industry, according to research firm Gartner.
Fonolo.com has mapped out the automated customer service phone trees of 200 companies. Log on, click on the department you want to reach (reservations at American Airlines, for example), and Fonolo will make the call, navigate the system, and call you when it has reached your desired department. When we used it to call Citibank, it connected us with a rep in less than 20 seconds, compared with two minutes when calling directly. Fonolo has an iPhone app as well.
When you cancel a flight, you are entitled to a refund of the taxes and fuel charges you paid -- even on a nonrefundable ticket. For 25 euros ($32), MissRefund.com will get that money for you. The company has secured refunds as large as $262; the average is $101. If you don't receive a refund, you don't have to pay. Meawhile, Vayama.com is an airfare booking site focused on routes and destinations that aren't generally available online, like Seattle to Denpasar, Bali. But it doesn't always have the best prices, particularly on run-of-the-mill trips, so make sure to shop around. Airfarewatchdog.com scours listing sites such as Travelocity and Orbitz to find the best deals, even on small airlines like Allegiant. And Yapta.com will alert you when a good price appears on the flight you want. If the price falls after you have bought the ticket, Yapta will, for $15, try to get you a refund or credit for the difference.
The world's largest community of software developers and graphic designers is now ready to serve small companies. Since 2001, TopCoder has been holding coding and design competitions to help companies like ESPN develop new software tools, websites, and logos. Late last year, it launched TopCoder Direct, a do-it-yourself version that allows small and midsize companies to get in the game. Log in at topcoder.com/direct, describe what you want, and determine how much money you will award the first- and second-place finishers. When the submissions come in, you pick the best. A prototype for a simple website might cost $1,200.
Chances are you have a cell phone, a work phone, a home phone, a couple of e-mail accounts, and maybe an instant-messaging program. With free software from VoxOx, you can keep them all in one place. Import contacts from all of your e-mail and IM accounts. Then, e-mail, IM, text, or call anyone you know, all through VoxOx. Every user gets a phone number, which shows up in the caller ID of the person receiving the call. If someone uses the number to call you, you can pick up at the computer or have the call forwarded to any phone. But there is one drawback: VoxOx gives users only two free hours of calls. Then, you can either pay a fee or get more free calls by watching ads.