Serving Small Business in a Big Way

Microsoft is working to help partners see potential in the small business market.

When it comes to small business, the opportunities for Microsoft partners are amazing. It’s such a big area of possible growth, in fact, that helping our partners take advantage of the enormous potential in the small business segment is one of our key initiatives this year.

For example, Microsoft estimates the server opportunity for small businesses with five to 25 PCs is greater than $1 billion in software sales alone, not including incremental deployment, installation, support and training services.

I’ve shared these statistics before, but they’re worth repeating: In the United States, there are some 3.2 million small businesses that have five or more PCs. And 40 percent of those 3.2 million entities don’t currently have a server. Without a server, small businesses struggle with:

  • Disconnected pockets of information, wasted time searching for files and managing different versions of files
  • Limited security for networks and data
  • Little or no ability to access e-mail and documents remotely via the Internet or mobile devices
  • Inability to share corporate resources such as fax machines, printers and Internet access

Microsoft is addressing the IT needs of small businesses with a wave of technology. Companies with limited resources will find tremendous value in ease-of-use, familiar interfaces with products such as Microsoft Office 2003 Small Business Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. For example, according to Forbes.com, businesses using Windows Small Business Server 2003 reported that, on average, their employees were able to be 20 percent more productive on the job.

Microsoft products have established a solid track record for delivering business value to the small business segment. One study of 25 businesses in the United States with Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 found that virtually all of the companies reported the deployment had led to dramatic gains in business value.

There are some 3.2 million [U.S.] small businesses that have five or more PCs. And 40 percent of those don’t have a server.

Value was reflected in factors such as increased responsiveness to customer needs and requirements, improved productivity through reduction in task work, increased output, and having additional time to focus on core business issues -- rather than on disruptions caused by IT infrastructure failures or security breaches. The business value of Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 was further expressed in terms of the companies’ ability to protect and increase revenue and their ability to avoid and reduce costs.

We’ve also made purchasing easy and affordable through the new Microsoft Small Business Platform SKU. This option simplifies licensing: one SKU per PC. It also offers a 28 percent discount and delivers the flexibility that is attractive to small businesses, such as the option of spreading payments over a three-year period without interest or finance charges.

To help meet the demand that exists in this dynamic segment, Microsoft introduced the Small Business Specialist designation as part of the Microsoft Partner Program. The designation was developed to support solution partners who specialize in the design, deployment and customization of small business solutions using Microsoft technology. It recognizes the partner’s skill and unique business model, and provides a logo to highlight partner expertise in serving the small-business segment with innovative technology solutions.

Customers learn about Microsoft solutions at the Small Business Center. Reachable via Microsoft.com, this site provides a single destination for product, support and business information geared to small businesses (www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness). Here your customers and prospects will find a host of helpful resources, including technology overviews, expert advice, articles of interest, and tips and tricks on just about everything from acquiring new customers to the latest in IT security.

To help small businesses easily find qualified IT specialists, the Partner Finder in the Small Business Center connects customers with the local partners best qualified to meet their needs based on information they provide, including zip code.

So, if you specialize in small business solutions using Microsoft technology, consider joining the Small Business Specialist Community (www.microsoft.com/partner). You’ll find you have access to training, information and offers, as well as increased visibility in Microsoft partner directories to help you realize your potential in this exciting market segment.