The following post is from Thomas Hansen, Vice President, SMB Worldwide, Microsoft.


The office has changed.

Yesterday’s workplace was a different place. Look at the TV series “Mad Men” and you see that we’ve come a long way. No instant messages, no email, no video conferencing, no collaboration tools. That was an era of largely manual processes and lengthy project execution. And while technologies such as the PC and software have greatly impacted the way all companies do business, mobility is changing the way people work like never before, and small companies are also seeing the benefits.

Once a luxury reserved for only large companies, technologies such as cloud and mobility are now available and affordable to even the smallest businesses. In many industries, these types of modern technologies are necessities for those looking to grow and gain a competitive edge. And small businesses are no exception. In fact, a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group showed a clear correlation between aggressive adoption of new technologies by small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and strong business performance. Tech-savvy SMBs grew revenue 15 percentage points faster and created jobs two times faster than SMBs using little technology over the past three years. The study also found that adoption of mobile technology among small businesses is going up. While only 20 percent of SMBs were using smartphones for business in 2010, today that number has jumped to 45 percent. And the numbers are even more dramatic for tablets — 34 percent today compared to just 8 percent in 2010.

SMB mobility in action
In my current role, I meet with small businesses from every part of the globe. Now more than ever, these conversations center on how SMBs can increase efficiencies and become more competitive. And not surprisingly, many are turning to mobile devices and services to help them get ahead. Take Dan Prud’homme of Carolina Realty Group as an example. Originally, Carolina Realty outfitted its workforce with iPads using Google Apps, but Prud’homme quickly found that these technologies were more suited for watching movies and playing games than doing business. He was losing time, efficiency and — most important — money. So he replaced those tablets with Microsoft Surface tablets, and many employees adopted Windows Phones. Today, through Windows 8 devices, Office 365 and SharePoint, his office is nearly paperless, and he’s able to truly enable a mobile workforce of employees who connect more quickly and reliably in the office or out in the field. He also uses Skype to meet with remote buyers and conduct virtual tours of properties.

And the best part? Prud’homme estimates his business reduced its IT costs by at least $20,000 per year while gaining better support and a faster, easier way to connect in a newly mobile world — all as a result of using mobility solutions that are actually designed for business (instead of consumer) use. And Carolina Realty is not alone — 88 percent of SMBs believe new technologies such as mobile will help their business, according to the BCG study.

Giving your business the flexibility to be always-on also lets you be more responsive to your customers and improve communication among your employees. They can collaborate no matter where they are. They can use mobile apps to easily handle business processes that were once confined to a desktop, so instead of spending hours tied to the office, they’re out impacting the bottom line. And most important, mobile flexibility makes it easier for your company to innovate and be nimble, leapfrogging the competition.

Today, every business is looking for a mobile competitive advantage. OnPoint CFO & Controller Services saw the opportunity that Microsoft solutions provided its business and took it. OnPoint CFO collaborates with businesses all over the world, and it needed the ability to easily communicate with its clients, as well as help ensure data security of an enterprise-level company. With the help of Surface, Office 365, Windows Phone and Windows 8, OnPoint CFO was able to better secure its data and provide its customers with real-time access to information from a wide variety of devices, quickly and easily.

“From a business perspective, I’m betting on Microsoft,” said Brian Clark, OnPoint CFO co-founder, president and CEO. “It came down to collaboration, and with Microsoft, I was able to break down barriers and provide my customers with anytime, anywhere access to their information. I had tried using an iPhone, but when I needed to multitask and access multiple business email accounts, it just wasn’t working out. When I was introduced to Office 365, I was really impressed. And with Windows Phone, I can always access SharePoint.”

It’s time to make the move to modern technology
Still not convinced of the benefits of modern technologies for your SMB? You’re missing out on a big opportunity. The BCG study also found that businesses that adopt the latest IT tools, including mobile, can potentially boost their revenues by a combined $770 billion and create more than 6 million new jobs. It also allows for easier expansion into new markets — even across borders — and gives your employees the ability to keep up with their work, virtually anytime, anywhere.

And if missing out on your share of $770 billion isn’t reason enough to make the switch, the date marking the end of support for Windows XP and Office 2003 is quickly approaching. Meeting your customers’ changing demands requires a modern, mobile approach, and technology that’s a decade old just can’t measure up to the latest offerings. Today’s world is far more complicated, and your small business needs the enhanced protection of modern software if you want to safeguard your data. Windows 8 is more than eight times more secure than XP, and with Windows 8 and Office 365, you’ll always have access to the data you need no matter where you are. You can rest easy knowing that your data is better protected, and your business can continue doing what it should be doing — growing.

Using Windows 8.1 to Office 365, a small business can become a mobile powerhouse. And it’s easy to do. Using Microsoft Pinpoint and the Get2Modern site, small businesses can find local Microsoft partners that are experts in advising companies on the technologies that best fit their needs, as well as helping with hardware and software upgrades, training and ongoing maintenance.

Today, the office is changed. Cutting-edge technology is no longer just for the world’s biggest companies. Your small business can have the latest technology at affordable prices — and mobile is just one example. From cloud to conferencing to hardware, more and more companies are taking advantage of the latest technologies from Microsoft to help boost their revenues and save on costs. And for your business to grow and be successful now and into the future, you need to evolve as well. Here are some additional resources to help you get started.

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