Article written by Jared Spataro (Corporate Vice President – Microsoft 365)
Over the past two years, businesses of all industries and sizes have had to adapt to new ways of working, a challenging operating environment, and ever-changing customer expectations. With all this change, it’s hard to overstate the impact of having secure and reliable productivity and collaboration tools. It is tools like these that enable the communication, flexibility, and innovation that keep businesses thriving in the new era of work. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are no exception, but they need tools tailored to their unique needs and challenges.
Over the past several months, we’ve announced a series of innovations that do just that: enable small businesses to transform the way they get work done and serve customers. We’re excited to expand on this SMB platform by rolling out a brand-new security offering. These new products are purpose-built to unleash the power of small businesses.
Providing small businesses with a complete security solution
The last few years have seen an increase in cyberattacks across businesses of all sizes, with increasing volume and sophistication of attacks aimed at SMBs. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, there has been a 300 percent increase in ransomware attacks in the last year, with over 50 percent targeted at small businesses. The risk of these attacks is significant since most SMBs don’t have the resources or specialized security knowledge to prevent, manage, or respond to an attack.
We believe in security for all, and we’re bringing new enterprise-grade Microsoft Defender technology to SMBs. We’re pleased to announce the general availability of Microsoft Defender for Business value in Microsoft 365 Business Premium on March 1, 2022, with the standalone offering being generally available later this year.
Microsoft Defender for Business will add cross-platform endpoint protection and sophisticated ransomware defences with technologies like endpoint detection and response (EDR) to the comprehensive security and productivity stack that already exists in Microsoft 365 Business Premium, making it an even more compelling and complete offering for small and medium businesses.
But we know that it’s insufficient to just secure customers. SMBs often rely on trusted IT partners to manage their IT environment, so we’re making it easier for partners to secure customers at scale with the general availability of Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, on March 1, 2022. Microsoft 365 Lighthouse provides a complete experience for customers by empowering their partners to quickly identify and act on threats, anomalous sign-ins, and device compliance alerts to keep them safe.
Helping small businesses meet, call, chat, and connect
In addition to a robust security offering with Microsoft Defender for Business, we’re bringing together all the features businesses need to serve customers with Microsoft Teams Essentials, our standalone version of Microsoft Teams. From restaurants to retailers to professional services, small businesses can easily meet, collaborate, communicate, and serve customers in new ways.
A third of SMB employees expect to switch permanently to remote work post-pandemic, which is why we are delivering solutions designed for this new reality. One of the biggest challenges moving from physical to digital is keeping people connected in an efficient and inexpensive way.
Teams Essentials makes this possible by integrating customers, clients, and collaborators all in one place. It offers unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, group chat, file sharing, and calendaring. With no IT expertise necessary, Teams Essentials enables those with and without a Teams account to participate easily and effectively. At only US$4 per user per month, it’s the most affordable all-in-one solution on the market today.
Enabling small businesses to scale with a Windows 365 Cloud PC
With Windows 365, we’ve taken Windows to the cloud, to give SMBs the flexibility they need to respond to the changing conditions. Windows 365 enables users to securely stream their entire desktop experience—personalized apps, content, and settings—to any device, empowering employees to work from anywhere on a secure Windows 365, including in the office, at home on a personal device, or anywhere in between.
Seasonal demand and rapid growth are often the norms for SMBs. Windows 365 allows for a quick and easy response to those shifts, with the ability to increase or decrease the number of Windows 365 Cloud PCs as new employees, vendors, contractors, interns, and trusted partners on- and offboard. By storing business-critical information in the cloud, not on devices, Windows 365 minimizes security risks in those transitions while allowing employees to quickly be productive.
It’s simple for both IT and the average-user admin to set up and deliver a Windows 365 Cloud PC experience designed to meet the needs of small businesses. Windows 365 Business is available for purchase on a per-user, per-month basis so SMBs can stay within budget.
Looking to the future
These updates mark the latest, but not the end of our journey to support SMBs. Historically, SMBs have had to rely on a patchwork of consumer and commercial solutions—none of which were an ideal fit for their unique business needs. The need for a more tailored solution is real, and we’re pleased to deliver a complete, tailored platform that enables them to chart a course for the future.
Explore our latest products and updates to see which might be right for your small business:
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium
- Microsoft Defender for Business
- Microsoft 365 Lighthouse
- Microsoft Teams Essentials
- Windows 365 Business