Verizon Wireless today laid out its vision of small business mobility and productivity. And in a sign of the times, that future is looking cloudier.
Michael Schaefer, executive director of Wireless Business Solutions, for Verizon Wireless, took to the stage during a press event in New York City today to announce a partnership with Microsoft that aims to bring secure, always-connected and enterprise-grade software capabilities to small business customers.
Small Business Mobile Meets Small Business Productivity
Verizon is now including Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 product to its Wireless Small Business Essentials offering. It's a combo that promises to bring 4G speeds and Verizon’s widespread geographic coverage with the data sharing and collaboration features of the Microsoft Office platform.
For its part, Verizon is bringing its fast, expansive and ever-growing 4G LTE network to the table. "4G is providing flexibility that customers did not have in the past," states Schaefer. He adds that the network is up and running in over 330 locations nationwide.
Will small businesses bite?
Schaefer admits that the industry has a tendency to "look at us through a consumer lens" or conversely, "think of us from a large business perspective." But Verizon is committed to letting small business technologists know that they won't be left adrift as they attempt to leverage the cloud to enable productivity, he says.
"The key here is simplicity," states Schaefer. That simplicity, in part, takes the form of single billing and support for both its Verizon 4G LTE service and Office 365 subscriptions. Additionally, small business owners can walk into any Verizon location to sign up.
Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 service gives small businesses the capability to view, edit and share Office documents, namely Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote docs. But the main draw is the capability to access the platform and collaborate over any device, particularly 4G enabled tablets and devices like iPhones, iPads and a wide variety of Android tablets.
Microsoft representatives were on hand to show off how Office 365's presence, messaging and video conferencing features rivaled on-premises implementations of Office, Exchange and Lync, the company's unified communications platform. With Office 365, a team can, for instance, gather for a video conference over 4G on a tablet, notebook or smartphone -- or all of the above -- to pour over the details of a sales presentation -- complete with a digital whiteboard.
And no longer do colleagues have to clog inboxes with big attachments and struggle to iron out versioning conflicts. Office 365 offers 10 GB of SharePoint cloud-based storage to start, a limit that grows as more users are added to the account.
Office 365 is available now for $6 per month per user under the Verizon Wireless Small Business Essentials with Office 365 plan.
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