With the recent appointment of Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s new CEO, what will the world of small business look like for Microsoft.
Microsoft Office is still the dominant office productivity software for businesses. However, large numbers of small businesses are using cloud based software to power their small enterprises. Google and a range of other vendors are massively leading in this transition. Microsoft’s Office 365 is gaining traction, but this is an area Microsoft is BEHIND in, not leading.
Search and local
Bing, a feature filled and good search engine, is still a shadow of Google’s dominance. In regard to the market share for local search – Google, Yelp and other vendors are leaders in this space as well. Not Microsoft.
The operating system is important for many businesses – we can’t run our computers with out it. However, once you turn on your computer – many small business owners just go to their browser of choice to get their work done. While Windows 8 is a powerful operating system, it’s battle is with the web browser. Microsoft must continue to educate on the benefits and value of Windows 8.
What are Microsoft’s assets?
Microsoft has a powerful reseller and partner community, with local experts who can train and support small businesses. Microsoft has the breadth and depth of services that only a large company, not a startup, can provide. Yet GoDaddy, Google and other large companies can (and do) provide. Microsoft has a strong suite of products and services – mobile (Windows Phone, yet iPhone and Google are massive contenders), Office software, Windows Server (yet server-less offices are on the rise) and online services with Office 365.
There is a lot Microsoft has done and can do to continue to innovate and help small businesses grow.
What should Microsoft be doing for small business owners. What should Satya and Cindy Bates, Microsoft’s head of small business, be focused on in this new chapter in regard to small business growth?
I asked this question to a few friends of mine: Carol Roth, Gene Marks, Melinda Emerson, Anita Campbell, Rieva Lesonsky, Steve Strauss , Brian Moran and Brent Leary.
Here’s a few things I would suggest Microsoft do for small businesses:
There’s an opportunity for Microsoft to lead in helping small business owners get more customers and keep the ones they have. Microsoft can do more to offer more and better services in the area of online marketing - social media marketing, search engine marketing, local marketing solutions, etc. Overall, computers are still too complicated for many business owners to use fully. Microsoft must continue to innovate and make things simpler. My aunt, a business owner, did not know how to change the default web site that came up when she started up Internet Explorer…shouldn’t this be simple for her to do on her own? Microsoft is one of the few companies who have the breadth and depth of infrastructure (such as local offices) to help educate small businesses. Microsoft should continue and do more local small business education.
Carol Roth, CNBC Contributor, Entrepreneur and Bestselling author
My one piece of advice is not to abandon loyalty in the face of innovation. Small business owners, like me, have been using Microsoft products loyally for decades. However, with every update to core products like Microsoft Office, we need to re-learn how to use them. User interfaces, keyboard shortcuts and more seem to change to keep pace with trends. However, as a small business owner it is both frustrating and time consuming to have to continually change the way we interact with products. We are spending too much time adapting to tools that are supposed to save us time and make us more productive. I am all for new features, but there is a tremendous importance of keeping loyal consumers happy. Feel free to add new variables, but always allow customers to work and interact with products in the manner they are accustomed to so that we can focus on running our businesses.
Gene Marks CPA, The Marks Group PC
Anita Campbell, CEO, Small Business Trends LLC
Small businesses are not mini enterprises! They have distinct needs. They operate much differently – leaner, swifter . They don’t have as many staff or as much time to spend. And just because their organizations are small and their technology may not be as advanced, they’re not dumb. Treat small businesses differently from consumers and from larger enterprises — that’s the first step toward meeting their needs and desires.
Melinda F. Emerson – @smallbizlady
Satya Nadella as the new CEO of Microsoft, you have an amazing opportunity. As a company insider, your #1 goal will be to reinvigorate innovation and product development. To help Microsoft catch up to the speed of change, it will be important to hire new agile talent and engage all employees in finding solutions. I suggest conducting Voice of the Employee (VOE) sessions, to hear solutions your front line has to offer in this mobile first, cloud first business world where we all now operate.
Brian Moran, Small Business Growth Specialist
Don’t just tell business owners about your great technological advances; show them how to use these advances to make their businesses more efficient. Too many companies struggle with understanding how existing technology can save them time, money and hours of stress and frustration. As Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt told his students “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” As you move forward with your company, be the quarter-inch hole for small businesses.
Steve Strauss, USA Today Columnist
Don’t forget your roots. Microsoft started out as a small business that created great software that helped other businesses be more efficient. It may be tempting to have a finger in every pie, but the thing that made (and makes) Microsoft great is that it does software, especially business software, better than almost anyone. As small business people, we continue to need that leadership and innovation.
Stop talking “Micro-speak”. For too long now Microsoft basically has had its own language. Small business owners and their staffs often don’t know what you’re saying, what problems you’re addressing or what solutions you’re offering. Microsoft needs to talk to entrepreneurs in clear and concise terms, and not in techno-babble.
Small business owners turn to technology to help them be more efficient and productive. Tell them how using Microsoft products and services will benefit them, saving them time and money. Entrepreneurs need help and will become loyal customers of companies willing to help them.
Brent Leary, CRM Essentials
Companies of all sizes are looking for help in using technology to effectively and efficiently create customers from prospects – and turn customers into brand advocates. Microsoft has all the pieces to the puzzle. Now it’s about putting them together in order to provide businesses with the ability to create great experiences for their customers. But it will take cultural change to the organization to pull it off. And you have a great opportunity to do it.