This week, I am attending Microsoft’s World Partner Conference in Toronto with 16,000 business partners from 144 countries. It is immediately evident that Microsoft has changed how it is helping small businesses under the leadership of Satya Nadella.
Microsoft not only gets what small business needs, but now working with their solutions feels cool again! Gone are the days of “operating system and product speak” talk. Microsoft is now focusing on how small business owners can use technology to take the data they already have and easily turn into something they can base intelligent actions on within their company.
This has always been the goal of every owner, but a lack of time and inexpensive resources have prohibited them from realizing these dreams until now.
Microsoft is achieving this by reinventing two things that the small business owner so desperately needs: productivity and the business process. With new business tools like Microsoft Flow, Power Apps and the marketplace, AppSource, any novice can connect business applications that a company is already using to get the insight they need. This is done through creating custom micro service apps with modern interfaces, consistent data and common business processes. What is as important is that all these solutions can be leverage across any device that an owner uses throughout their day: Desktop, Mobile, Mac, or an Android or IOS phone.
As Nadella says, this means “you can be everywhere from anywhere”. Doesn’t this exactly describe the job of the small business owner?
What is even more exciting is that Microsoft is focusing on making it even easier for the small business to get the information they need when they want it by using “conversations as a platform”. With their future tools, they will bring together text, speech and applications right into the context of a pending task using digital assistants and bots (think Cortana). At his keynote, Nadella gave the example of entering a meeting and having your digital assistant notify you who is there. It displays your LinkedIn connections with them and presents information from your company CRM to alert you to all opportunities connected to those people.
Small business don’t need any more products that vendors are selling. They need the solutions that companies like Microsoft that connect together the data they already have with the business processes they need to make intelligent and timely decisions. In this way, technology will finally fulfill its promise of making any small business owner more successful.