Microsoft applications have become extremely popular in today’s computing environment. Most of us use their applications for daily tasks such as writing articles in Word, analyzing business data in Excel, preparing presentations in PowerPoint, and maintaining communications in Outlook. These products, in addition to other tools such as Access for database management and Visio for drawing diagrams, have long been essential parts of the Microsoft Office suite.
In addition to the commonly-used tools mentioned above, Microsoft has rolled out an array of new applications and services in recent years that could significantly impact the middle market computing landscape. The company has seen a healthy dose of growth in its cloud-based services, fueled by the migration of Office products onto the cloud.
Microsoft cloud services have enabled users to stay up-to-date with the latest application features while enabling businesses to access their productivity applications from anywhere at any time. Furthermore, Microsoft’s cloud-based solutions are sold as monthly subscriptions rather than fixed contracts, which is convenient for consumers who may not want to commit to the services long-term. Given that these applications reside on the cloud, this approach will provide increased backup, disaster recovery, and security benefits for most organizations.
Microsoft has invested heavily in a number of new cloud-based initiatives ranging from financial and ERP systems to analytics and collaboration tools. The newly-branded Dynamics Business Central is Microsoft’s effort to provide middle market organizations with a set of integrated business applications. These applications range from operational modules, inventory management, and project time and expense tracking to core financial management for traditional accounting and financial management needs. These applications are so tightly integrated with Microsoft productivity applications such as Word and Outlook that it can be difficult to distinguish between the accounting module and the productivity app!
Another set of newly-released applications addresses the analytics and collaboration needs of data-driven organizations. Microsoft Power BI is a powerful data analysis, graphics, and reporting tool that allows managers to slice and dice their data from multiple sources in an easy format using English syntax-like commands. Other applications such as Flow and Teams allow users to define workflows and collaborate in virtual teams with ease of access to project-related information. Finally, Microsoft’s Power App assists companies with the development of smart applications, which focus on specific tasks that can be easily integrated with other Microsoft applications.
These are just some of the many new and exciting cloud-based offerings from Microsoft that could enable middle market organizations to reduce costs and strategically consolidate many of their applications. These offerings could also potentially shift management and scalability of Microsoft’s back office systems to the cloud environment, allowing greater focus on value-added activities instead of commoditized IT maintenance efforts.
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