Microsoft study: Small and medium-sized businesses growing fast by embracing digital technologies

| Kevin Peesker, Worldwide President for Small, Medium and Corporate and Digital

Women and men in an office

Eighty percent of businesses expect to be hybrid – four tips for data security and compliance.

Sustainability is the #1 ESG priority for Small and Medium Businesses – how to reduce your carbon footprint.

Early adopters of technology grow faster – practical steps to accelerate your digital journey.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the cornerstone of every community. With an estimated 400 million SMBs operating worldwide, they account for 99% of global organizations. SMBs are the main source of job creation, making up between 60%-85% of employment. [1] [2]  And according to the International Labor Organization, by some estimates, SMBs contribute up to 70% of GDP.[3]

With that kind of scale and impact, SMBs need the ability to innovate to be successful and thrive in a digitally enabled economy.

During the pandemic, we saw that businesses able to accelerate their digital transformation fared better than those that did not. Many reported growth through their focus on tech intensity.

Under such unprecedented circumstances, Microsoft was curious to learn how SMBs view the current realities of their businesses, to understand their goals and priorities, and to assess whether technology is seen as a catalyst to future success.

Analysys Mason was commissioned to conduct research with over 3,000 SMBs from 10 different areas of the world, representing the global footprint of SMBs.

Today, we are releasing our findings with the Microsoft SMB Voice and Attitudes to Technology Study 2022.

Top insights

Digital technology adoption contributes to faster growth

SMB chart primary business objectivesThe study confirms that nearly 70% of businesses consider growth as their primary driver, and technology “early adopters” saw faster and higher growth.  Businesses identified as early adopters are twice as likely to have achieved their past business objectives plus higher revenue growth over the past year and are also four times more likely to be highly confident in their future business success. Today, businesses are focusing on sustaining growth despite geopolitical uncertainty, high inflation and energy prices. For 51% of businesses, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 remains a concern.

Security and reliability form the foundation

More than two-thirds of SMBs plan to increase their IT budgets in the next year, prioritizing investments in the following ways:SMB graphic about technology

Eighty percent of businesses expect to have a hybrid workforce for at least the next two years and require the technology to support their business goals in a reliable and secure way.

Partners help drive strategy and SMB growth

While the majority of SMBs recognize the importance of technology in reaching business goals, 16% see it as essential. However, many SMBs need partners to map the right technology to their business strategy.  Almost half choose technology partners, with 33% favoring Managed Service Providers or Cloud Solution Providers whom they expect to proactively recommend technology solutions to accelerate companies’ business goals.

Two women hold business meeting

The millennial factor

Millennials hold 41% of technology decision-making roles. They tend to work for newer companies and 13% are more likely to see technology as important or essential to business success. Nearly one-third of millennials identify as technophiles in their personal lives, carrying some of their consumer traits into how they research and purchase technology, placing high value on peer ratings and reviews when making purchasing decisions. In 2016, Gallup flagged that millennials favor purpose over paycheck in their How Millennials Work and Live report. Millennials as business owners apply those values to their business and technology priorities.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals – no longer just for the enterprise

Two-thirds of SMBs in the study report having ESG assessment and monitoring frameworks in place. Millennials are leading the way, being the most likely to have an annual report dedicated to their ESG progress. In terms of focus areas, 37% cited lowering their environmental impact, 30% wanted to improve their diversity and inclusion, while 30% were focused on job creation.  The study points to a link between an ESG focus and attainment of business objectives – with both these traits being most prevalent among early adopters.

Ninety-nine percent of the world’s businesses are actively seeking solutions to address current challenges and generate new opportunities. This community impacts economies worldwide and the livelihoods of billions. They do this not to just be resilient and survive, but to thrive and bring innovation to their industries and value to their customers. Microsoft continues to listen to and learn from our SMB customers, aligning to what is their top of mind.

Together, the possibilities are endless, and opportunity abounds for all.

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National Small Business Week: 8 Windows 10 PCs great for small businesses

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National Small Business Week: 8 Windows 10 PCs great for small businesses

By Peter Han as written on blogs.windows.com
National Small Business Week is in full-swing; here are some great newer Windows 10 devices that can help Small Businesses be more secure and get more done.
This week we recognize National Small Business Week; something that is near and dear to my heart. As someone who worked in a small business myself, I firmly believe that small businesses are the backbone of our global economy and key innovation drivers in the tech industry and beyond. In today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world Microsoft is committed to providing devices and services that help these businesses expand their reach to better serve customers from all over the world.
The needs of small business customers are always top-of-mind for Microsoft as we work with our device partners to bring innovative new Windows 10 PCs to market. We talk extensively with small business owners about what they are looking for when purchasing new PCs, and although there are a diverse set of requirements, there are commonalities across the broad spectrum of small businesses such as long battery life, price-point, mobility, and processing power.
Every small business is unique, and there are a wide variety of Windows devices and experiences to meet the specific needs of each of them.
Modern Windows 10 devices built on the latest Intel processors are faster and more powerful than ever before, are more secure thanks to technology like Windows Hello and help people be more productive thanks to new Windows experiences such as Inking. There’s never been a better time to buy a new PC for your business.
Here are eight modern devices that small business owners, who are in the market for new PCs, should take a look at.

Acer Swift 7

One thing we hear a lot from small businesses is that they need mobile solutions that offer the flexibility to get their work done wherever they go. Devices that are thin, light and powerful are a must. Acer’s Swift 7 is one of the first devices that comes to mind when I think of mobility. This beautiful laptop runs on Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, weighs only 2.42 pounds and is .39 inch thin. It includes face recognition for Windows Hello authentication for fast and secure log-on.
Other key features include:
Pricing and Availability:  The Acer Swift 7 starts at $1099 USD and €1,299 in EMEA.

ASUSPro B9440

This thin and light business laptop boasts a 10-hour battery, and a Mil-STD 810G military-grade, magnesium alloy body that’s solid and durable, despite weighing just 2.3 pounds. Its cutout design lifts the keyboard to a 7-degree angle when open, for a more natural feel when typing. A 14-inch full HD 1080p anti-glare screen fits into a smaller 13-inch chassis, and provides great visibility in any lighting scenario. It features a Windows Hello fingerprint reader for added security and convenience.
Other key features:
Pricing and Availability:  The ASUSPro B9440 is available globally and starts at $999 USD.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The XPS 13 is a fantastic laptop and Dell expanded on that success with the XPS 13 2-in-1 convertible version this winter. 2-in-1s offer the flexibility to use the device as a laptop, a tablet and to put it in tent-mode for presentations, all of which are very appealing for small business people who wear many different hats. The XPS 13 2-in-1 features Dell’s innovative InfinityEdge display that goes all the way to the edge for stunning visuals. Windows Hello is also enabled with fingerprint or coming soon; face recognition.
Other key features:
Pricing and Availability:  Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 is available globally and starts at $999 USD.

HP EliteBook x360 (1030 G2)

This is another great 2-in-1 convertible that appeals to small businesses. One innovative option available is HP Sure View technology – a built-in privacy screen where, at the touch of a button, information on the screen fades when viewing from an angle. This is perfect for business travel when you can’t risk prying eyes in the next seat seeing confidential information. The Skype for Business audio quality is great on this device that features Audio by Bang & Olufsen.
Other key features:
Pricing and Availability:  The HP EliteBook x360 (1030 G2) starts at $1,249 USD.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

With Windows 10 and Windows Ink, Microsoft and our partners have made it easier and more intuitive to be creative and productive. Lenovo and Microsoft worked together to make sure Ink really shines on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga that features an in-chassis dock that both holds and charges the pen. The ThinkPad line is beloved by many SMB customers, and with its additional flexibility, power and brilliant 14” display this 2-in-1 is sure to be a new favorite.
Other key features:
Pricing and Availability:  Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga starts at $1,349 USD.

LG gram 14”

The LG gram is thin and light at just over 2 pounds, is gorgeous and offers amazing battery life. We worked closely with LG to get the most out of the battery. On the 14” gram, the battery lasts up to 14.5* hours making it an ideal device for mobile professionals.
Other key features:
*MobileMark® 2014 standard
Pricing and Availability:  LG gram 14” starts at $1,199.

Samsung Galaxy Book 12

Samsung recently announced that they will be shipping their new Galaxy Book 12” on May 23. It’s built to make an impression with a sleek metal and glass design at just .29” thin and light at just 1.66 lbs. The included backlit keyboard-cover is detachable, so you can use as a laptop, or remove the keyboard entirely and use it as a tablet.  It also includes Samsung’s Galaxy S Pen, which provides a great Windows Ink experience. With over 4,000 points of pressure, the S Pen is very precise and never needs charging. Go wherever business takes you with a fast-charging, 11-hour battery and its Super-AMOLED display, which gives you a stunning picture for work and play.
Other key features:
Pricing and Availability:  The Samsung Galaxy Book 12” with Windows 10 Pro starts at $1,429 USD.

Toshiba Portégé X20W-D

This 2-in-1 convertible is beautiful, lightweight and is an absolute workhorse. It comes with Toshiba’s exclusive TruPen incorporating Wacom Feel technology with more than 2,000 points of pressure sensitivity. And the anti-glare screen coating enables a truly natural Windows Ink hand writing experience. It also has multi-directional microphones that are great for Cortana or Skype for Business conference calls.
Other key features:
Pricing and Availability:  The Portégé X20W starts at $1,199 USD.
These devices are only a small sample of the great Commercial and Consumer devices that are fantastic for small business environments. Visit your local Microsoft Store or MicrosoftStore.com to see what else is available.

SMB Device Finder

We also offer a free online tool called the SMB Device Finder that can help you find the best PC for your computing needs. Just click through a series of questions clarifying your unique business needs and device preferences and it will pull up a list of available devices that fit those needs. It will even link you to online resources where you can purchase the devices.

SMB Device Finder

Microsoft will be hosting webcasts, blogging and participating with the Small Business Administration and a number of our partners on different initiatives Throughout National Small Business Week. I joined a podcast earlier this week with USA Today small business columnist Steve Strauss that you can listen to here. Check it out, and read some of the other great content at TheSelfEmployed.com.
We’ll also be offering deals and hosting events for small businesses at our Microsoft Stores across the country. To keep up-to-date on our activities this week, follow the hashtag #WinInBiz

Small Law Firm Improves Client Service and Saves $3,200 Annually with Hosted Services

small-law-firm-managed-solution

Small Law Firm Improves Client Service and Saves $3,200 Annually with Hosted Services

As written on customers.microsoft.com
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Mark Nikel Professional Corporation is a small law firm that specializes in personal injury claims. As a small firm, it wanted to provide solutions that supported its email and legal case management requirements but did not need much administration. To provide capabilities such as remote access to email, calendars, and case information, it decided on Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based service that offers web-enabled business productivity, collaboration, and communication tools.

Situation

Established in 1998, Mark Nikel Professional Corporation represents injured clients in personal injury legal cases in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The firm is comprised of Mark Nikel, its founder and lead attorney, a paralegal, and several attorneys who are engaged on a contract basis.

To support clients, employees frequently traveled to hospitals, clients’ homes, and courtrooms to advise clients, gather statements from witnesses, and argue cases. Mark Nikel, Founder and Lead Attorney at Mark Nikel Professional Corporation, says, “The largest challenge for us was remote access and sharing of information. As a lawyer in a small law firm like mine, being able to be out with clients and being able to work away from the office is survival.” The firm’s email and case management solutions were not providing the remote access capabilities that employees needed to stay productive when they were away from the office.

For messaging, the firm used a POP3 email and calendar service that cost CDN$50 (U.S.$50) per month and presented several challenges. Employees found it difficult to synchronize email and calendar information with mobile phones. The POP3 service also had limited functionality for updating calendars and tasks. Because the courts set deadlines for when attorneys can file lawsuits or make motions, calendars changed frequently, and legal professionals had to track updates manually. Additionally, the amount of spam that employees received each day was unmanageable.

To store client and case information, the law firm used Amicus Attorney Small Firm Edition, a third-party legal case management software solution. The software was installed on the law firm’s server and client information was backed up to an external hard drive. Since legal professionals must access legal case information from remote locations like the courthouse, the firm set up a virtual private network (VPN) with a dedicated IP address, but remote performance was slow and unstable. Amicus Attorney worked great when employees accessed it from the office, but poor remote access was affecting productivity and employees’ ability to provide information to clients in a timely manner. The firm expected to spend CDN$1,000 (U.S.$1,000) to upgrade to Amicus Attorney Premium Edition and Amicus Mobile for remote access to case information. In addition to problems with remote access, the firm was also concerned about the security of data, stability of backups, and downtime.

Nikel explains, “I was the IT person, so if something did not work, I had to fix it or pay an IT consultant.” If he was at the courthouse or working from home and the server went down, which happened three or four times a year, he would have to go into the office to restart it, taking time away from important legal business.

Solution

The firm learned about Microsoft Office 365, which brings together trusted business productivity, collaboration, and communications products as cloud-based services. It joined the Microsoft Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) to pilot the solution and address challenges with remote access, security, downtime, and IT administration. Office 365, the next-generation communications and collaboration cloud-based services from Microsoft, combines the familiar Office desktop suite with cloud-based versions of Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online. Nikel says, “The setup of Office 365 was very simple. From the moment we received the invitation, we simply spent one hour getting SharePoint Online and Exchange Online set up. After that it was a matter of migrating the data, which in our case took three or four hours at the most.”

As current users of the latest Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010, Nikel and his associates were able to seamlessly connect to the communication and collaboration services of Office 365 to provide exceptional legal advice. Nikel says, “The Office applications like Outlook and Word work great with the online services like Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.” By using Office 2010 and Office 365, the firm began to fully benefit from the combined capabilities of the rich client desktop suite and the hosted services of Office 365.

By replacing the POP3 service with Exchange Online, employees can access email, calendars, and contacts from almost anywhere with a mobile phone or a computer with a broadband connection. Nikel says, “With each device—my tablet, a Windows Phone 7, an Android phone, and even my iPad at home—the synchronization works.” Attorneys use tasks and calendars in Microsoft Outlook 2010 to manage schedules of cases and deadlines. The firm also receives less spam and believes the up-to-date antivirus and antispam solutions make email more secure.

With SharePoint Online, the legal professionals can easily access files and case information remotely without logging onto VPN. The firm also decided to switch from Amicus Attorney to Credenza, made by Credenza Software, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Credenza is an Outlook add-in that captures client and case information and works with SharePoint Online to provide a legal case management solution that attorneys can access from anywhere. The firm can synchronize SharePoint libraries with Outlook 2010 so attorneys can access case-related documents even when working offline. The firm also uses SharePoint Online to host its external website because it’s simple and easy to set up for a small business.

The firm uses the Microsoft OneNote 2010 note-taking program to capture information into an electronic notebook that attorneys can save in SharePoint Online to share with paralegals. With OneNote 2010, author indicators capture who wrote what. Legal professionals frequently research previous cases, and they can copy relevant information into the notebook with a web link to the case. In Outlook 2010, Nikel can send an e-mail message to a OneNote notebook for a specific client. Nikel says, “With OneNote and SharePoint Online, I was able to create shared notebooks to capture research, links to prior cases, maps of accident scenes, medical records, photographs, and contact information related to a case. I can access this information from almost anywhere from my mobile phone with Microsoft OneNote Mobile or with Microsoft OneNote Web App.”

Benefits

By moving to Office 365 hosted services, Nikel has significantly reduced the time he spends on IT issues, strengthened security of data, stabilized backups, and reduced downtime. Attorneys have better remote access to case information. With these advances, the firm has improved client service, reduced IT costs, and increased profitability.

Improved Client Service

The firm has improved the ability to access emails, calendars, contacts, tasks, and legal case information from remote locations with Office 365. Attorneys frequently speak with accident victims in hospitals, and now they can access clients’ case information from a mobile phone. Nikel says, “This puts information at my fingertips, allowing me to make recommendations to clients immediately rather than taking down the situation and then spending time later to make a recommendation.” Attorneys often only have one opportunity to question witnesses, and with easy access to case information, they can ask more pertinent questions to help improve the testimony for clients’ cases.

Nikel himself has redirected time from IT issues to serving clients. “With Office 365, my [IT] role is almost nonexistent. Once it’s set up, it’s working. I need not worry about it and the time is mine to devote to the law practice.” Also with reduced spam and reduced downtime, Nikel can devote more time to client activities.

Reduced IT Costs

With Office 365, Nikel estimated he has reduced IT costs by CDN$3,200 (U.S.$3,200) annually. He expects yearly savings in the following areas:

Nikel says, “On a per-lawyer basis, my IT costs will be a fraction of what any of the other law firms’ IT costs are. We pay less than $100 per month per lawyer compared to thousands of dollars per lawyer at a large firm.”

Improved Profitability

Nikel expects a significant increase in profitability, supported by the Office 365 deployment. By improving client service, Nikel expects an increase in client referrals and revenue. He has reduced his firm’s IT costs by reducing contractor, software, and other related IT costs. Nikel has also improved efficiency when working remotely. “Office 365 has helped give me back the time I was spending on IT. We’ve been able to increase the volume of work without increasing staff.”

Nikel says, “I used to be a partner at a large firm, where we had IT staff and large budgets. There was no way a small law firm could afford these advanced capabilities like access-from-anywhere. But with Office 365 it makes it possible for a small firm like mine to have these same capabilities without a large IT investment.”

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.