Verizon Turns Mobility 365 Degrees
In the BYOD environment, small and midsize businesses know that mobility is an increasingly vital component of a strong, competitive, forward-thinking company. Verizon and Microsoft are looking to leverage this, which is why the two respective industry-leading corporations have teamed up to provide what they believe will give SMBs a broader mobile reach.
As reported at CIO Today, Verizon has incorporated Microsoft Office 365, the cloud-based version of the Microsoft Office suite of applications, into its Small Business Essentials package. SMB's using Blackberry, Android, iOS and of course the Windows Mobile operating systems will be able to maintain productivity levels via smartphone, or either PC or Apple tablets. Email access pretty much goes without saying at this point in mobile technology, but the Microsoft virtual suite will also provide SMB subscribers with instant messaging capabilities, video conferencing using Verizon network infrastructure, and of course document sharing of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote projects.
As always with small and midsize businesses, cost is definitely a consideration in choosing the services of any off-site provider. It should be noted that Verizon isn't offering the cloud-based Microsoft Office package for free just because their SMB clients use their mobile network. On the other hand, Microsoft has already considered the budgetary constraints of its SMB subscribers, which make up the bulk of their customer base, by offering both a small-business version of Office 365 for companies with fewer than 25 employees, as well as a midsize plan for up to 50,000 corporate users.
The partnership increases the SMB market visibility for both corporations, though Microsoft is already largely considered the de facto leader in productivity packages outside of the mobile realm. What Verizon hopes to accomplish by partnering with the world's largest provider of end-user efficiency options is to broaden its customer base into the cloud service provider arena, a market populated by SMBs seeking low-cost, low-maintenance, user-friendly technology supplied by customer-oriented vendors. By hosting Microsoft's virtual productivity service, Verizon is looking for a major head start against their largest competitors (AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) in the race to provide comprehensive, integrated mobile device management for their clients. Their part in this technology team-up with Microsoft is primarily in providing security for Office 365 subscribers.
The Verizon-Microsoft collaboration is certainly not the only option for SMBs seeking a known quantity in terms of cloud services. Google and Apple options have led the category thus far, focusing on integration with their mobile operating systems rather than a particular carrier's security. But the sheer size of this new partnership may have just as much potential to advance mobility options for small businesses, particularly those that cannot afford a brick-and-mortar base of operations or work from an entirely virtual office.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.