Dell is making a concerted SMB push with the launch of an offering that infuses cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 into its hardware devices. This is a move designed to leverage voracious SMB cloud adoption and enable both companies to break ground with a new set of small business customers.
Microsoft Office 365 with Dell gives SMB customers access to the full spectrum of productivity solutions – Outlook, Exchange, Office Web Apps, SharePoint, Lync and more – from most Dell devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.
In short, the solution gives SMB customers the ability to work on the same document, or collaborate on a project, from remote mobile devices. The combination comes as an online subscription service with all the features of a collaboration offering: email, shared calendars, the ability to create and edit documents online, instant messaging and Web conferencing. The solution also features a unified inbox and calendar, which touts easy online meetings and video conferences, as well as a centralized SharePoint portal for SMB customers to share and access documents.
The service, hosted by Microsoft data centers, gives Dell a leg up in the SMB market sector by touting attractive perks generally associated with cloud services, including productivity increases, streamlined IT management, beefed-up data security, and reduced infrastructure and capital expenses.
“Dell is committed to helping small- and medium-business customers realize the full power of the cloud,” said Cindy Grogan, executive director of software marketing at Dell. “Dell is committed to helping customers improve productivity and collaboration anywhere, anytime.”
Attempts to break new ground in the SMB market are further driven by setup and 24/7/365 customer support services on most PC platforms.
“With the availability of Office 365 to Dell’s customers, Dell and Microsoft are enabling SMBs to be more mobile, more secure, and more productive,” said Phil Sorgen, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of U.S. small and medium businesses and partners. “Dell’s ability to help SMBs adopt this cloud-based solution while also facilitating set up and support makes them ideal to sell Office 365.”
Meanwhile, the joint offering is a clear attempt for Dell to make new inroads in the SMB market segment.
According to numerous reports, the SMB has been a rabid adopter of cloud computing solutions to increase efficiencies and cut infrastructure and staffing costs – and Microsoft Office 365 is by far one of the best-selling offerings for the SMB, with around 100 million users, the majority of which are small businesses.
In the past, the SMB has typically shied away from unified communications and collaboration suites in large part because of the complexity, cost and IT staffing requirements needed for setup and user training. For one-office SMBs – especially those with fewer than 25 users – collaboration suites generally haven’t made sense.
This is no doubt changing in large part because of the influx of remote and mobile workers and the increased reliance on contractors, outsourced workers and external partners. This often throws a wrench into communication and leaves a vacuum for a comprehensive collaboration tool.
For both Microsoft and Dell channel partners, this means an opportunity to expand reach and customer base, while opening the door for new SMB business. The combined offering gives partners the ability to address SMB cloud collaboration needs, alleviating concerns around complexity and integration with a slew of implementation, education and maintenance services.
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