Microsoft's Office 365 is helping SMBs in Asia to compete with their enterprise counterparts, according to Andrew Pickup, Microsoft's Asia-Pacific chief marketing and operations officer.
With its first anniversary approaching in June, sales of the productivity and collaboration suite grew by 400 percent over the past three quarters.
"Prior to Office 365, SMBs were massively underserved, relying on a 'hodge-podge' of older solutions that didn't work together. With Office 365, they can experience the latest in productivity from a familiar and trusted source," said Pickup.
The applications in Office 365 are cloud versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. Microsoft believes that customers are already familiar with the on-premise versions of these platforms, making it easier for them to buy Office 365.
The collaborative function of Office 365 is another selling point, according to two customers based in Malaysia.
"We can save 15 hours per week with Lync Online because our staff can attend meetings from anywhere. And we can edit documents together in real time during meetings," said Jaime Chong, director, operations & special projects, Crystal Edge.
The marketing agency calculates that by using the automatic data backup as well as document sharing and access features in Office 365, it can save US$13,000 annually in management costs.
The second company, Zepto Consulting, said it saved up to US$12,000 annually in travel expenses by moving just 25 percent of its meetings to Lync Online. Reducing travel also frees up a total of 50 hours of productive time, company-wide, for the company's engineers each month.
"We'd rather work smart than hard, and Office 365 helps us use our time more efficiently," said Jabez Gan, project director at Zepto Consulting.
Meanwhile in Singapore, SD Group is saving US$1,000 to US$2,499 per month with Office 365 by eliminating its dependency on other solutions. Being able to access all SD Group employees' calendars has significantly reduced the amount of time required to set up meetings.
"We expected to be more productive, but we were astounded to learn that not having to coordinate schedules via multiple e-mails makes us more productive," said Daniel Soh, managing director of SD Group.
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