Guest post from Tom Rizzo, Microsoft (US)
For more than 20 years, Microsoft Office has helped small businesses be more productive. Now, we are evolving the Office family of products, bringing familiar productivity and collaboration experiences to the cloud in Office 365. With this subscription service, small businesses will have access to Office, Lync Online, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online, in a reliable service designed to help users collaborate more effectively, and enable businesses to project their corporate image professionally.
Office 365 beta users are already leveraging productivity tools across a range of devices and are telling us that small business will find many benefits in Office 365, when it is available later this summer.
Specifically, here are 10 ways small businesses will benefit from Office 365:
1. To gain virtually anytime, anywhere access. Office 365 provides web-enabled access to e-mail, important documents, contacts, and calendar on almost any device—including PCs, Macintosh computers, iPhones, Android phones, and BlackBerry smartphones. With Office 365 you work where and when you choose, responding to important requests right away, from almost any location.
2. Create a professional face for your business. With state-of-the-art, easy-to-use collaboration, mail, and messaging services, you can set your business apart from organizations that use free or ad-supported services A custom domain name enhances your branding, and Office 365 includes design tools so you can easily create a professional, public-facing website in minutes.
3. Easily communicate and collaborate with others. You can create a password-protected portal to share large, hard-to-email files both inside and outside of your organization, giving you a single location to find the latest versions of files or documents, no matter how many people are working on them. You can manage your contacts and connect with others quickly, sending instant messages to colleagues and customers, and inviting them to participate in online meetings.
4. Simple to use. Office 365 is easy to try, simple to learn, and straightforward to use. You are using familiar tools, so you don’t need to learn new software or install complicated systems. In a few minutes, you can create a trial account and see how easily your business can move to “the cloud” with capabilities usually found only in large organizations with sophisticated IT staff.
5. E-mail, time management and online meeting solutions. Microsoft has brought years of experience in delivering scalable, highly secure, online solutions to Office 365. Your business will use features like calendaring, online meetings, and a 25-gigabyte (GB) mailbox that accommodates attachments, with each as large as 25 megabytes (MB).
6. Safety and security. Security is top priority. Office 365 has the same systems used by Microsoft and other enterprises worldwide to help protect email, documents, and networks. Holding several industry certifications, Microsoft data centers scan your messages and documents for spam and malicious software 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helping to safeguard your data.
7. Works with tools you use. Office 365 works with Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you use Microsoft Office 2010 or Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 with Office 365, you can broadcast PowerPoint presentations, check documents in and out of your online document library, see if others are editing the document you’re using, and can synchronize documents with your desktop.
8. No need for advanced IT knowledge. No IT staff? No problem. You can easily set up and use the Office 365 features, and attend to your business priorities rather than learning the technology ropes. There’s an intuitive, web-based portal where you can perform administrative tasks, set up your account, and get your employees started on Office 365.
10. Affordable and flexible. Office 365 is affordable for small businesses at $6 per user per month. Its pay-as-you-go plan is predictable and supports how your business scales. In addition, Office 365 allows you to provide users with only the services they need, saving money.
Small business owners and employees have plenty of responsibilities in their areas of expertise without being concerned about managing IT tools, which can be complex. With Office 365, small businesses can choose the set of applications they need from the best productivity tools Microsoft has to offer, knowing their business is backed by an IT infrastructure with 99.9% uptime.
For information on some of the creative ways small businesses are using Office 2010, see this post, Top Ten Productivity Tips in the Office or on the Go.