Today is the 50th anniversary of National Small Business Week, a week long opportunity to recognize the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
As part of my role at Microsoft, I work with a lot of small companies and Microsoft partners, so I hear first-hand how important technology can be for them. When talking about Windows use in business, people often focus on 1,000’s of PC deployments in large multi-national corporations; however, I think it’s a huge miss if we don’t look at how Windows 8 is being used by small and medium businesses (SMBs) as well.
For a small business, the mantra is often about stretching dollars to do more with less and this applies to technology budgets as well, ensuring that you are future-proofing technology investments and getting the most value possible. Here’s some examples of small businesses who are making the most of technology – in this case Windows 8 Pro – and how it has made their businesses more efficient, saving them valuable time and money. From a physical therapy clinic, to a Jiu-Jitsu gym, to a political social media app, these SMBs using Windows 8 are great examples of the 27.9 million small businesses in the U.S. today.
In 2012, start-up Discourse Analytics launched the Votifi app which creates an online community for peer-to-peer political discourse and networking. The app connects people across various regions around the issues they care about most. For instance, Votifi fostered real-time discussions during the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The app also builds a profile of each customer’s political activity and views. These anonymous profiles help inform political campaigns, advocacy groups, and media companies by enabling them to better activate their supporters and conjoining online and off-line efforts, giving Votifi participants a voice with their political leaders.
“Windows 8 is a critical component for the long-term success of our business.” - Lou Aronson, CEO
Internally, the company also deployed Surface Pro running Windows 8 Pro. Lou Aronson, CEO of Discourse Analytics commented that he takes his Surface Pro with him everywhere: creating pitches on the go, sending a quick note while at a child’s sporting event, reading the newspaper over breakfast and jumping into multiple meetings a day—all while remaining connected and productive. He also noted that Windows 8 Pro allows the company to be device independent and connect people through new channels, which wasn’t an option with the iPad.
The Romulo Melo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, based in San Francisco, teaches traditional Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for fitness, competition and self-defense. The company recently deployed Windows 8 Pro running on Microsoft Surface and has been able to truly transform how they run their business day to day by shifting to mobile devices.
With Windows 8, the academy is do everything from checking in students, to creating custom self-defense programs and manage their finances. Equally important for a small business that spans two continents is staying connected. The academy uses Skype to stay in touch with its Brazilian counterparts and SkyDrive to store and share student records and photos in the cloud from anywhere.
The academy has also stopped using paper based record keeping for signed documents instead adopting the DocuSign Ink app on Windows 8 Pro to increase its business efficiency. The app uses a digital secure system to collect legally binding signatures from new students on liability and on-boarding materials, partner agreements for new instructors, tax documents, insurance policies and leases. Also, once a year the academy takes a group of students back to Brazil to train at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy. While traveling, the group uses DocuSign for everything from securing accommodations to setting up day tours for its students.
Since adopting Windows 8 Pro, the academy has benefited by streamlining its customer experience, dropping paper forms in lieu of digital signatures, and switching to tablets enabling the company to be more efficient and spend more time in the gym and less time in the office.
Sports Reaction Center is a physical therapy clinic based in Bellevue, Wash., that specializes in sports injury management. The center was founded 30 years ago and focuses its expertise around serving the injury, recovery and training needs of athletes. In order to streamline its small business and more efficiently care for its patients, the clinic adopted the Windows 8 Pro Lenovo ThinkPad Twist convertible for its team of therapists.
“The Windows 8 tablets save the clinic so much time and hassle. What’s not to love? It’s awesome!” - Beth Hall, Office Manager
The biggest benefit the company has experienced with Windows 8 Pro has been reducing paperwork, time and cost; prior to adopting Microsoft’s technology, the therapists would often spend hours of their evenings documenting patient sessions. Now, the therapists take the tablets with them everywhere instead of stacks of paper. During a patient visit, a therapist can take injury notes on the tablet, send out doctor referrals and email their patients copies of exercise plans in real-time. Less paperwork means more time with the patients and happier therapists. The clinic estimates that it saves around 10-15 hours a week in documentation time by moving from paper forms and desktops to mobile tablets.
Beth Hall, the office manager at Sports Reaction Center, also uses a tablet to run the office behind the scenes, creating spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel, conducting bookkeeping activities and filling out office orders using the touch-sensitive interface. She loves that the devices are lightweight, mobile and that everything is laid out with easy-to-use live tiles that let her know when she’s got new emails or upcoming appointments.
And to see how SMB customers are benefitting from Office365, check out their blog here.