Microsoft: Reaching More SMB’s via MS Office. Can it hit the target?

There’s so many technology solutions a business can have to manage their business operations. But successful businesses, don’t just have a mix of solutions they have integrated solutions – one interface, one database back end, and one time entry of data.
Having one system also makes it easier for all employees to use.
Microsoft Corp. announced a new edition of Microsoft(R) Office for small-business management. Developed jointly by the Microsoft Business Solutions and Microsoft Office teams and scheduled for U.S. availability in late 2005, the new edition of Office is designed to help redefine the way small companies manage their business operations through technology.
There’s many companies such as SAP, Intuit, Best Software Oracle, NetSuite, and so many others wanting to OWN the SMB management space, be it focused on sales, finance or an entire operation. Microsoft’s new product is definitely aimed at the SMB industry leader – Intuit. Intuit has payroll, customer management, database and other solutions and Microsoft continues to target these and other areas as well. The GREATEST leverage Microsoft has, and it’s using it, is the installed base of millions of Microsoft Office users who would like being able to manage their business from within a product they are familiar with. However, Intuit has a LARGE base of VERY LOYAL customers. Many are loyal because they LIKE Quickbooks, many Microsoft users use Microsoft out of the lack of viable alternatives – not because the product is liked.
Fueled by extensive feedback from small-business customers, the new edition of Microsoft Office for small-business management will be a fully integrated solution that includes the highly familiar Microsoft Office 2003 programs along with Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting, a new financial management solution, and an updated version of Microsoft Office Outlook(R) 2003 with Business Contact Manager.
With this new solution, companies will be able to manage sales, marketing and financial processes, all in the well-known, easy-to-use Office environment. It has been built to help small companies meet their most important business management needs:
— Integrated business information. The new edition can offer small
businesses a streamlined way to manage their most important customer,
financial and business processes, resulting in better decisions and
improved efficiencies.
— Better financial management. Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting
will bring a unique and powerful experience in world-class business
management software from the Microsoft Business Solutions team,
combined with the widely used, familiar Office platform. Microsoft will
offer an easy migration path to its other Microsoft Business Solutions
financial management offerings as small businesses grow and their needs
become more complex.
— Stronger customer relationships. Small businesses will be able to build
stronger customer relationships and improve sales management with
Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager. Microsoft
will provide migration options for small businesses using Microsoft
Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager to Microsoft Business
Solutions CRM when they require a more robust tool to better manage
customer relationships across sales, customer service and marketing.
— Increased employee efficiency. The flexibility of the new Microsoft
Office Edition will enable business owners and managers to grant
employees security-enhanced access to critical financial and customer
information, providing them with greater efficiency while conducting
day-to-day customer management and business tasks.
Together with Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003, which was launched last year, this new edition will expand the range of Office-based solutions specifically designed for small businesses.
“Small businesses are increasingly interested in advanced financial and business management tools,” said Raymond Boggs, vice president of SMB research at IDC. “More and more of these guys realize that effective contact management is like stuffing dollar bills into their own pockets. The key is to make the process as efficient as possible, especially in firms that may still have some staff keeping leads on 3×5 cards in shoe boxes.”
Orlando Ayala, senior vice president of the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partner Group at Microsoft, said the new Microsoft Office Edition for small-business management is a direct response to the feedback Microsoft has heard from today’s small businesses. “We actively listen to our small-business customers to understand the challenges they face in their day-to-day business operations. This new Microsoft Office Edition was built from the ground up based on extensive customer research to ensure we’re delivering a solution that is meaningful to them and the way they work,” he said. “This announcement is evidence of Microsoft’s unwavering commitment to empower small businesses with innovative, dynamic technology that will help them focus on strategy, growth and remaining viable in an increasingly competitive, global marketplace.
“Big businesses aren’t the only organizations that need integrated business management software,” Ayala continued. “We believe small businesses are an underserved customer segment, and with today’s announcement we intend to bring innovative solutions to those companies to help them realize their full potential.”
Microsoft’s New Edition of Microsoft Office: A Solid Bet for Partners
With this announcement, Microsoft is offering its worldwide network of partners strong opportunities to deliver solutions that address small-business challenges and promote a broader adoption of technology across this vast market segment that boosts local economies. Partners of all sizes and types across the entire ecosystem can contribute significantly to successfully driving new technology adoption among small businesses.
Specifically, independent software vendors (ISVs) will play a strategic role in this offering by providing both vertical and horizontal solutions built on top of Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting. “Microsoft is bringing true innovation into this area, and I’m really excited about the strong ability we have to give customers a seamless Office-like experience,” said Tom Fanelli, vice president of sales and marketing with Coastal Computer Corp. “The Solution Development Kit (SDK) truly empowers ISVs, and using it, we have been able to develop powerful applications that integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Small Business Accounting in no time.”
World-Class Payroll Service and Support From ADP
In developing Microsoft Office Edition for small-business management, Microsoft worked closely with Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) Small Business Services, part of the Employer Services Division of Automatic Data Processing, Inc., a leading provider of integrated outsourced payroll and human resources services, to deliver an integrated payroll offering. Businesses using the new Microsoft Office Edition will be presented with tightly integrated self-service and fully outsourced payroll services, including signature-ready tax forms, integrated checks and other online forms, as well as support for direct deposit.
“ADP is focused on providing small businesses with a choice of the best and most innovative business solutions and services for payroll and taxes,” S. Michael Martone, group president for ADP Employer Services. “This product combines our extensive payroll and service expertise with Microsoft’s software and distribution capabilities to provide small businesses and accountants with an integrated accounting, payroll and tax processing solution.