A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend a day at Microsoft headquarters. I was joined by a handful of other small business influencers (that’s what larger companies call those of us who speak, write, author, and etc – all focused on the small business market).
During our day together, my respect for Microsoft and what it has done, will do and can do for YOUR small business increased.
Microsoft is still focused on servers, Microsoft Office and a range of other products and services. However, there’s clearly a new focus – an evolved focus.
For small businesses, the thrust of Microsoft’s education and marketing is Office 365.
Sure, traditional Office is still important, but businesses, professionals and the world are quickly moving to a “cloud & mobile based” world. This is a world where traditional servers are used less, where files are stored less on desktops, where less software is installed on a computer’s hard disk and more software is accessed on 3rd party servers (the cloud).
Office 365 is Microsoft’s offering to do this.
Thomas Hansen, Vice President of World Wide Small Business and Cindy Bates, Vice President, US, were our executive hosts. Thomas and Cindy both have a deep and personal passion for small business success.
Cindy is pictured in this pic speaking to us at Microsoft HQ.
Mobile and Cloud Is Critical.
I know you know the power of mobile and cloud – but really do you?
Many small business owners express how “they need to get back to the office to do this or that”. Every business, no matter how small, must ensure their business is positioned to operate fully mobile and in the cloud.
So what does this mean? Is mobile and cloud really important?
Mobile means that from your pocket, hand bag or back seat of a taxi you can manage every aspect of your business. It’s that simple. Mobile means that you can be ANYWHERE and with a simple WiFi connection access everything you need to manage and run your business and overall fulfill your client expectations. Why do mobile and cloud go hand in hand?
By having all your documents and applications in the cloud (stored online), your mobile (or desktop bound office devices) can access anything at anytime, that you need to run your business. Microsoft, with Office 365, continues to fully harness and enable a mobile and cloud first computing experience.
Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface Make a Great Team.
Part of a mobile world, for Microsoft, is Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface. Both of which we got a heavy dose of.
Microsoft Surface continues to be the machine for the business professional who wants a personal and a professional device.
I’ve not counted whose device has more developers creating apps for it – but I’m pretty sure more apps are developed for iOS and Android than Windows. However, beyond that very important fact, the Surface has some compelling features and options for so many people.
If Microsoft Surface is not for you, Microsoft has a number of partners, Dell, HP, Asus, Acer & Toshiba who provide tablet/notebook powered, Windows 8 touch devices as well!
I also got to dive into Windows 8 a bit more. Sure I have it on my office computers, but seeing the experts at Microsoft use it, I saw that there were several, easy to do things, that I could do to make Windows 8.1 even better to use. Want a comparison of the Surface vs an iPad (mini) check this out.
Work & the Home of the future are more aware and intuitive.
We had fun taking a tour of the work and home of the future and saw a VISION of how the world could be in about 10 years. The world of the future is MORE intuitive, MORE aware and uses various sensors to know who we are and overall connecting us (with permission) in more ways. I wish I could tell you more or show you some way cool video – but what we saw was for not for the public to see…yet.
Here’s a pic of me with our tour guide of the home of the future. If you take a peak at the wall behind us you’ll see…oops, I almost slipped telling you what that wall was all about.
Microsoft Office Is Nice. But Office 365 Is Better.
While many large companies have traditionally installed versions of Microsoft Office (locally installed on a computer), there’s a number of companies, including small businesses who can leverage a “cloud only” version of Office 365 to manage their “file creation and editing” activities and overall collaborate and communicate with their teams. In my own tests and use of Office 365, there’s no need to buy a jeweled CD anymore. Just go straight to the web and/or download an app.
Another evolution of Office and Microsoft’s overall offerings is that through one login, you can connect your files and settings. “Logon” to Office from your tablet, home desktop, office computer and get a unified experience.
Collaboration In Real Time Is Awesome.
At Microsoft HQ we got a first hand look at the power of Microsoft Office 365 collaboration and communication capabilities. It was impressive to see the blend of a smartphone (powered by Microsoft), computer (running Windows 8) and a headset (connected to the computer). In a demonstration setting we were able to from the computer to the phone and the phone to the computer – and hold a live streaming video chat on the phone. Is this new? Of course not. But what’s new is the powerful integration that Microsoft has built for business owners, through the Office 365.
Here’s a picture of me doing a video call with the ultimate in small business growth, Barry Moltz
Microsoft announced Office 365 four years ago (see this Facebook post here) in these short years it’s evolved to be more and more mature, stable, feature rich and easier to use.
I’ve been a long time user of Google, Dropbox, GoToMeeting and other awesome services. What’s great about the world we live in is that there are SO MANY great choices for small businesses to choose from. The question you have to constantly ask yourself is a) is there something that will help me run my business better b) is what I’m using better integrated into a seamless offering or used as a point solution. The choice is not easy – but you now have a better understanding of the power of Microsoft Office 365 and where Microsoft is taking it.
We had a great time in the “demo” room – role playing that we were members of a fictional office and testing out Microsoft products and services.