Microsoft Works Round the Clock to Meet Small Business Needs

Rajesh Jha, who leads the team responsible for launching Microsoft Office Live later this month, tells how this set of Internet software and services can help small-business owners gain a competitive edge.

When Rajesh Jha was tapped to lead the development of Microsoft Office Live services in January 2005, his team had not much more than an initial concept of providing easy-to-use, affordable, Web-based services for small businesses. Microsoft Office Live debuted in a beta version just over a year later, with more than 160,000 small business customers using the software since February 2006.

The latest milestone for this offering comes on Nov. 15 with general availability of Microsoft Office Live Internet software and services, which are designed to help small businesses attract new customers, generate repeat business and manage their businesses in one online location. Available at www.OfficeLive.com, Office Live includes new and enhanced tools for establishing a customer-focused Web site, managing online ad campaigns on Windows Live Search (powered by MSN.com and Live.com), providing Web-based access to business products and files, and more.

PressPass recently asked Jha, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office Live, about the strategy for Office Live and the newest capabilities that it will provide for small businesses.

PressPass: What are your key priorities as corporate vice president for the Microsoft Office Live team?

Rajesh Jha: I am responsible for overseeing the worldwide marketing and development of Office Live, Microsoft's easy-to-use and affordable Internet software and services for small businesses. In late 2004, when I was part of the organization working on Microsoft Office InfoPath, Jeff Raikes [president of the Microsoft Business Division] and others began moving the company toward developing software as a service. We saw this as a means to deliver more value to end customers, especially small businesses that don't have IT expertise. Jeff asked me to form a team to work toward fulfilling this new mission.

Through Office Live, we are a one-stop shop for these businesses. We take care of their IT needs, establish an online presence for them, and help them acquire new customers as well as create repeat business from their existing customers. We work very closely with our colleagues in the Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows Live groups to ensure all of the Office Live offerings are delivered in a unified and well-planned way that targets specific customer needs. We're striving to create innovative technology, but always with a focus on how these products and services really make an impact for small businesses.

PressPass: Why has Microsoft targeted Office Live to small businesses, and how does this offering specifically meet these customers' needs?

Jha: Small businesses are the most technologically underserved segment of the market, and we believe that Microsoft software has a lot to offer to them. Companies with 10 or less employees typically lack in-house technical resources or a dedicated IT budget. Office Live can bring them all the productivity and efficiency benefits of our software that larger organizations tend to have. Office Live is offered separately from Microsoft Office and Windows Vista, but can be easily integrated with popular Microsoft Office productivity products. Office Live augments the ways that these customers already use Microsoft Office productivity applications. These Internet-based applications and services, many of which are actually provided free of charge, make it easy for customers to grow and manage their business online.

Link: Full Q&A @ Presspass

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