People who work hard on running New Zealand's 400,000 small and medium enterprises are accustomed to constant change, and this is something they share with those who work in the technology sector. Bill Gates once said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years, and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.”

Faster broadband access is being deployed nationwide, and it's the perfect complement to better approaches to work that have been made possible by technology. Businesses have new opportunities to find customers, to improve their services, and to be more productive. Technology professionals have new opportunities to help them. These changes may not seem urgent compared to the many other demands on time, but they are coming and it's time to learn about them and make plans.

We are offering two free road shows to provide an update on the latest in Microsoft technology for small and medium enterprises. We'll be visiting Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch from 1 to 9 November 2011.

The Cloud Computing series is for business managers and their advisors to learn whether cloud computing makes sense for them.

In parallel, the TechDays series is aimed at technology professionals who want to keep their skills up to date through a deep dive on implementing and supporting the latest technology for their customers. In previous years these have been known as UNPLUGGED events.

Most of New Zealand's small and medium enterprises rely on Microsoft technology to help them run their businesses, but many are using technology that's five or even ten years old. That means the technology they're using is not as capable, not as simple and not as secure as it could be. The reality is it's not always easy to keep up to date, and it's been estimated that small and medium enterprises are getting 30% less in productivity gains from technology than larger NZ companies.

Cloud computing services delivered over the Internet change the game. The Office 365 family of cloud services make it much easier for people to store email and documents securely, keep them synchronized and accessible from anywhere, and free from spam and malware. They make online business meetings using video and messaging easier. The Windows Intune cloud service helps to keep computers up to date and operating as smoothly as they should.

In the past this was all comparatively expensive to achieve because it was necessary to purchase and maintain dedicated computer systems. With cloud computing people can simply subscribe to a service, so that even a sole proprietor can have very sophisticated computing services on tap. 

Roadshow sessions will discuss business productivity with Office 365 cloud computing, how to use web video conferencing and messaging for business communications, and the latest on servers and infrastructure. You would be very welcome to attend, simply register your interest using the links above.

By Scott Wylie, Director Developer & Platform Group, Microsoft New Zealand Limited