Microsoft Takes a Road Trip

Tuesday Oct 12th 2004 by Lauren Simonds
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Part educational, part promotional, all beneficial, Microsoft hits the road to bring technology to the small business owner.

One of the notoriously frustrating aspects of running a small business is finding the time to learn about reliable technology solutions that will help you run your company more efficiently and, along with your hard work, more profitably.

After all, you went into business because you love what you do, not because you love technology. To paraphrase Star Trek's Dr. McCoy, "Damn it, Jim. I'm a doctor, not an IT professional."

If only there were a simple way to learn about what's available and maybe even get a hands-on demo. OK, so you know where this is leading.

Microsoftrecently launched a new program &#151 Microsoft Across America &#151 that brings the latest technology to SMBs across the country.

The nation-wide tour includes four free half-day seminars for (one for SMBS, the other three for developers and IT professionals) and what Microsoft is billing as a "mobile event experience" &#151 a truck carrying the latest in hardware, software and resources for small business.

After the seminar, attendees can go to the truck for hands-on tech demonstrations. The tour also features local Microsoft certified IT providers who will be on hand to answer questions, give advice and offer their services to local businesses.

Move On Down the Highway
Seven Microsoft Across America (MSAM) trucks will visit more than 250 cities through June 2005. Each truck comes outfitted with five workstations, and the computers run software specifically designed for SMBs. Titles include Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 and Microsoft Business Solutions Retail management System.

The company has a goal of meeting one million small business owners by the time the program wraps in 2005. The project, according to Microsoft, "is part of the company's $2 billion commitment to the SMB markets and its channel partner community."

According to Robert De Shaies, a Microsoft vice-president, MSAM will help give small businesses the information they need in order to make smart technology decisions for their particular business.

"We want to take our story right to the small business owners," says De Shaies. "The tour offers SMBs the opportunity to learn about available technology and how it works, meet local technology experts who can become trusted advisors, and get hands-on experience on the truck. And we've partnered with companies like HP, Cisco and Intel to provide SMBs with a range of technology choices to fit their business."


The Microsoft Across America truck.
Microsoft will send seven trucks across America to bring technology seminars to SMBs.

MSAM provides SMBs with access to various technologies including technology infrastructure, desktop applications, licensing, product support and financing.

The Seminars
Microsoft offers a series of four seminars, one of which is called Connections and aimed at SMBs. The company describes it as follows:

"Connections seminars offer customers the opportunity to share challenges and ideas, while learning valuable product information through demonstrations about how utilizing the right technology solutions can help businesses run more efficiently. As a result, small and mid-sized companies learn ways to make better use of the technology investments they have already made."

"In addition they are also better versed on how to make educated decisions about the kind of technology they might want to install in the future. The Connections seminar also features product demos designed for small businesses &#151 including a look at the new Microsoft Small Business Server and Office 2003 Small Business Edition. Seminar content refreshes quarterly to ensure ongoing learning for repeat attendees."

The TS2 Seminar is geared for Technology Professionals and IT Providers. Technology professionals can also attend the TechNet Briefings seminar, and finally, the MSDN seminar is for professional developers.

To find out when MSAM is rolling into a city near you, check the MSAM Web site. Select the state you live in from the drop-down menu, and click Go to see the schedule and locations for all stops in your state.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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