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Office 365 news round-up

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. According to the most recent figures available, 99.7 percent of all U.S. employer firms are small businesses, which the federal government defines as companies with fewer than 500 employees, and they employ almost half of all private-sector workers. Small businesses are also leaders in innovation. Among high-patenting firms (companies that file 15 or more patents in a four-year period), small businesses produce 16 times more patents per employee than large companies. Maybe that’s one reason why 37 percent of all high-tech employees work for small businesses.

As part of National Small Business Week earlier this month, Microsoft released the results of a survey of more than 500 small-business owners, which found that 86 percent believe technology is important to the success of their company, 60 percent attribute increased revenue to technology, and another 60 percent feel technology allows them to compete with similar-size and/or larger companies. Despite those benefits, however, only 30 percent of small businesses are currently using cloud technology such as Office 365 and 10 percent are not familiar with cloud technology at all. In fact, nearly 30 percent of the survey respondents said that they still use filing cabinets and folders as their primary means of managing information, while 12 percent said that they do not have a good solution for collecting, storing and sharing content.

Yet, at a Small Business Technology Roundtable hosted by Microsoft, a number of small-business owners and industry experts talked at length about how much more effective their business operations were with Office 365 and how they wouldn’t have been able to scale and grow their companies without the cost savings, real-time accessibility and collaboration capabilities of the cloud. Clearly, we still have a lot of work to do to help this critical sector of the economy realize the benefits of Office 365 and cloud technology.

Meanwhile, we continue to make Office 365 better day by day. During the past two weeks, we added capabilities to Office 365 that make it simpler for administrators to manage the service and announced a new partnership with SAP that, among other things, will help our customers automate business processes and access SAP applications and data through Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. We also invited you and our other customers to join the Office 365 Technical Network, a new Yammer external network where IT pros, developers and other technical professionals answer questions and share their Office 365 knowledge and experience.

Below is a round-up of some key news items from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Microsoft TechEd: Office 365 Gets Smarter – Hear what Office General Manager Julia White has to say about new and upcoming developments in Office 365

Office Mix, First Take: Create online lessons in PowerPoint – Learn how Office Mix can help anyone create dynamic, interactive training tools and presentations.

The US Virgin Islands: Using office 365 to achieve efficient, citizen-centric government – Find out how the Government of the US Virgin Islands is using Office 365 to reduce bureaucracy and red tape, and to improve constituent services.

Thailand selects Office 365 for every student nationwide – Learn how Microsoft and the Thai government are providing Office 365 free to 8 million students and 400,000 faculty throughout Thailand.

Sky Zone makes giant leap in productivity and savings with Office 365 – Find out why Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park chose Office 365 and how it is helping the business grow.

Aston Martin Meets Microsoft in the Cloud – Discover how Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud technologies are helping Aston Martin design and build the world’s most beautiful sports cars.