The Best of 2011: Facebook, Galaxy and ... Xi3?

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Cue the music. Raise the banners. Stand at attention. Today we present the gold, silver and bronze medals for business technologies and services for 2011.

At least technologically speaking, 2011 was yet another year where business techno-fact trumped techno-fiction. Now mobile devices are more powerful and flexible than their in-office equivalents, machines speak and Web-based business software lowers the cost to do everything from staying organized to selling.

>>Facebook as a Business Option

In fact, so much great stuff hit the shelves this past year that the trick become picking which tools to take into that crowded shop of yours.

Here are first-, second- and third-place picks.

Bronze Medal: The Xi3 Module Computer
Forget Dell ( DELL), H-P ( HPQ) and Apple ( AAPL), right now the leader in business computing is Salt Lake City-based Xi3. Why? The Xi3 breaks the office computer down into modular components that can be customized, fixed and, yes, even upgraded. So not only are you able to target the exact components you need; you are able to swap them out as your needs change. It's brilliant. And it means the Xi3 could be the last PC you ever buy.

Now, the concept has issues. They are not cheap to buy, and to use them properly real techno savvy is required. But consider that one of these things -- monitor excluded -- is smaller than a Coke can, is made of solid metal and can be configured to handle everything from a single seat to massive groups of enterprise users. Assuming you know even a little about business computers, the Xi3 is the PC idea of the moment.

Silver Medal: Samsung Galaxy S II
I know, I know. The iPhone 5 is coming and the 4S talks. And the Motorola ( MOT) Droid Razr is cool. And cheap phones such as the Kyocera Milano rock the house. But without question the best business mobile devices right now is the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Ridiculously fast, bright and big, this phone does exactly what a business person needs. It keeps you connected, gets your stuff and runs all day long. And it does it all in case that is svelte enough to not feel like you're carrying a clip of ammo. Even better, many mobile operators have this unit, so no matter where you live you can probably find a Galaxy S that will work well for you. It's the best business mobile solution going. Period.

Gold Medal: Facebook advertising
Sure, Google ( GOOG) Adwords, Microsoft ( MSFT) Office 365, Basecamp, Intuit's ( INTU) QuickBooks Online and Salesforce ( CRM) are good tools. They help you stay organized, market a bit and drive your sales teams. But for a business, Facebook advertising trumps them all, since it can literally help anyone get business.

Just go to the bottom of your Facebook page, click on the "advertising" link and simply do what Mark Zuckerberg tells you to: Think of the people who might like your product, write some ad copy for them, pay a few bucks to post your ad, and, poof, you're a targeted media powerhouse that can operate around the world. Even more bizarre, the learning curve on this product is absolutely flat. Really anybody can use it. You heard it here first: Facebook advertising makes traditional Web paid search marketing look like AM radio. It's a gold mine.

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