imageThis week Microsoft Corp. released the results of a global study that investigated how small businesses use and manage their IT. The research report, called “Microsoft Global Small Business Index, October 2008”, was executed by Vanson Bourne Ltd. earlier this year with more than 1,300 small businesses across several countries – including at least 100 respondents in Canada.

Here are highlights and thoughts on the findings especially relevant to you as a SBSC in Canada:

The research, which surveyed small businesses’ attitudes on a range of areas, also found that many have “IT envy” for the resources of larger businesses. A vast majority — 79 percent — think that larger businesses gain significant advantage from having access to better IT resources. Despite this, 37 percent still use Web mail, such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! services, rather than business e-mail services such as Microsoft Hosted Exchange.

Other findings from the research indicated that small businesses desire more developed capabilities for security and mobile services, with 56 percent of small businesses indicating they would prefer to have more protection from viruses and spam. Meanwhile, 44 percent of small businesses believe they would benefit from mobile e-mail and shared calendar functionalities.

This is where the largest opportunity for SBS 2008 is. As an all-in-one server solution, it can provide all of the major features used by larger companies to these envious small businesses at a surprisingly affordable cost. E-mail, internet connectivity, internal web sites, remote access, mobile device support, file/printer sharing, backup/restore, etc.

If you aren’t ready to capitalize on the launch yet, you need to come to this SBSC webcast on November 13.

Despite global concerns about an economic slowdown, most small businesses reported that they had performed well in the past year. Globally, 39 percent of businesses had grown, while 36 percent had remained steady in the past year.

Part of what is happening in the economy is real, and other parts are the result of fear and uncertainty. With the strength of your partnership with Microsoft, there are cost savings you can uniquely position to SMB customers by exploring innovative hosted, virtualization, and collaboration technologies.

Have you understood the opportunities with Software + Services, Virtualization, and SBS/EBS 2008?

Government support is often widely used and well-received, but in some cases, it is thought to be too limited.

Contact your local Chambers of Commerce, business associations, and Government agencies to support these messages to their members. You would be surprised how receptive these groups can be to your expert IT knowledge for SMBs. Setup a breakfast event, seminar for 20-30 people, provide free business assessments, participate in tradeshow events, purchase contact lists, or similar.

Then apply our Ready-to-Go campaigns and launch event materials for brilliant execution.

While only 15 percent of respondents noted “IT issues” as one of their top three time-consuming activities, in certain countries this task was seen as much more time-consuming — for example, in Sweden and Canada.

About 58 percent of small businesses revealed they use IT skills in-house, while 63 percent (in another question) said they believed larger enterprises with more IT resources gain a competitive advantage. Swedish small businesses were most likely (23 percent) to employ an IT specialist, while many Canadian (20 percent) small businesses also employed an IT specialist.

SMB customers that continue to “insource” their IT may likely be operating in troubled situations, without the best use of technology for their business challenges. As a SBSC, you are the best positioned to maximize every dollar and create efficiencies they didn’t even know existed.

Don’t underestimate the power of your knowledge, experience, designation, and the Microsoft technologies behind you in these customer scenarios.

You can read the full press release or request the report here.

Cheers,

Satish

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