verizon-logo.jpg The internet is littered with online collaboration tools that do everything from facilitating virtual meetings like Protosphere to full-on real time document creation and editing like Google Wave. To wit, Verizon recently launched its own small business-targeted collaboration tool called the Verizon Collaboration Center.

"Small businesses need a lot more than e-mail and internet access to stay competitive," says Monte Beck, Verizon's vice president for small-business product strategy. He adds that the Verizon Collaboration Center is a tool to help small businesses grow, run more efficiently and reduce costs.

The first thing I asked when I found out about the Verizon's new Collaboration Center was, "What makes it different?" Powered by Cisco's WebEx software, the collaboration center facilitates video conferencing, document and calendar management and sharing as well as project management. Seems to me, the only real difference is that it's Verizon-branded. That said, after having a chance to play around with the collaboration center, I can say that the interface is sleek, user-friendly and geared for the business user.

Tomorrow, Verizon launches The Better Way Challenge (contest launches at 12 a.m. EST), a contest in which small to medium sized business owners can submit a video describing the challenges of making sure you team's goals are aligned. The contest winner will receive a $2,000 American Express gift card and a free consultation with best-selling author and business expert Guy Kawasaki. Second and third place winners will receive a $1000 gift card and one-time consultations with other business experts in the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group.

To enter the contest, you must either sign up for a free 30-day trial of the collaboration center or be a current subscriber. Either way, I'd say the 30-day trial is worth it to play around with the interface and decide for yourself if Verizon's new Collaboration Center is actually a better way for you to do business in today's new information age.