Microsoft Nokia Acquisition: Good For Small Businesses

Yesterday’s news that Microsoft will acquire Nokia for $7.2 billion is probably good news for both Microsoft and Nokia, and also for small businesses.

Naysayers – and there are a lot of them – use words like it’s “too little too late” and that Nokia “can’t save” Microsoft.  For instance, industry observer Vivek Wadhwa sees lots of problems on the horizon for Microsoft. He says the answer is for Microsoft to break itself up into nimbler pieces.

Others, such as Business Insider’s Henry Blodget, see it as a “smart move” but one not likely to be successful because it’s too much of a Hail Mary pass, in his opinion.  If it works, it can win the game.  But chances are high it won’t work, for a variety of reasons.  For example, he notes that the big party in the mobile space has been tablets, but that Nokia has a nonexistent tablet offering.  Microsoft, on the other hand, has tablet offerings, but they have been high priced and slow to catch on.

The Microsoft viewpoint was aptly put in an announcement sent to members of Microsoft’s Voices for Innovation community, by Jonathan Friebert, Microsoft’s public policy manager, who explained:

“This deal adds to the momentum of Windows Phone and will accelerate growth as the next billion people come online using mobile devices. In addition, the transaction provides Microsoft with leading geospatial and mapping technologies. The integration of hardware and software will strengthen the position of the Microsoft ecosystem and provide a wide range of choice to consumers worldwide.”

Why A Microsoft – Nokia Combo is Good For Businesses

For businesses that are Windows shops, having a range of Windows smartphones and tablets is an attractive thing.  It provides a real alternative for businesses.

Apple and Google’s Android dominate the consumer mobile devices market today.  It would be a hard row to hoe, to try to gain substantial market share there. But for business users … by combining forces Nokia and Microsoft have the potential for a stronger offering for the business market.

Businesses need that.  For business users, there’s real benefit to being able to use a phone and tablet that integrate seamlessly with your desktop or laptop  computers.  It’s efficient.  It puts less burden on businesses that use Windows.  There’s less of a learning curve.

When a device makes it easier to conduct business, then small businesses and enterprises have a real reason to choose a Windows smartphone or a Windows tablet.

That’s especially true with tablets. Until recently there was somewhat of a void in the marketplace.  Yes, iPads and Android tablets are fun.  But for business users they have limited business value.   If my own Google Nexus tablet is any example, it tends to get used mainly for entertainment and occasionally on business trips when I have to write something longer than an email with two or three sentences.  It’s not very functional when it comes to the heavy lifting of business work I do.  My little 4-year old netbook computer is unpleasant to use for entertainment purposes, but far more useful than my tablet when it comes to real work, despite being old and slow.  Consequently, I often carry both on business trips — one for watching movies and catching up on email and social media, and the other for real work.

Some think that Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia is as much about tablets as smartphones.  It gives Microsoft access to hardware technology and access to Nokia’s distribution network.

To date, Microsoft has had limited success with tablets.  After the market failed to positively receive its stripped down Windows RT tablet, Microsoft reduced the price.  Its Surface tablet with full Windows 8 was better received, but pricey and so Microsoft also dropped the price of the Surface tablet.

Yes, Microsoft was slow to the tablet and smartphone party.  But there really is a place for good Windows phones and good Windows tablets in the business world.  Those that prefer a unified operating system across all their devices were essentially out of luck before Windows tablets and phones. They were forced to pick one of the big industry leaders, Google or Apple, for the operating systems on their mobile devices instead.  Now they could have more options, if the Microsoft – Nokia acquisition is successful. For the sake of business users, we hope this acquisition will lead to more mobile device choices.

Images: Wikipedia


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Visit India in February for Future Decoded Event

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Visit India in February for Future Decoded Event

Microsoft’s India-born chief Satya Nadella will be in India later this month to address a conference on ‘Future Decoded’ in Mumbai.

While Nadella has visited India a number of times since assuming the leadership role, this visit takes on added significance as the global debate on US’ clampdown on visas and its impact on flow of skilled manpower rages.

Nadella is among the first few technology titans to oppose the restrictions on immigration by the new US administration under President Donald Trump.

ALSO SEETrump Immigration Order: Microsoft Bats for Exception Program

Last month, Trump had signed a sweeping executive order to suspend the arrival of refugees and impose tough new controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen as part of new measures to “keep radical Islamic terrorists” out of America.

Condemning the move, Nadella, in a post on LinkedIn, had said: “As an immigrant and a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country and for the world. We will continue to advocate this important topic.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith said as many as 76 Microsoft employees are affected by the new executive order.

Executives from Google, Apple, Netflix, Facebook and other top American companies have slammed Trump’s immigration order that sparked widespread protests across the US.

Microsoft’s Future Decoded event, to be held on February 21-22, is expected to see participation of 1,500 business and government officials.

This will include names like Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Lord Jonathan Evans (former director general, MI5), Guenter Butschek, CEO, Tata Motors, and Anil Rai Gupta, Chairman and MD of Havells.

The discussions will revolve around how digital technology is empowering people and organisations across governments, education, banks, hospitals, e-commerce, entertainment, and manufacturing organisations.

Details of Nadella’s itinerary could not be confirmed.

Tags: Satya Nadella, Microsoft, India, Microsoft India, Donald Trump

Microsoft HoloLens: A Fully Untethered Holographic Computer

Microsoft announced some big things at its Windows 10 preview.

New features offered by Microsoft’s latest operating system and flashy tech were highlights of the preview, but possibly the most eye catching announcement was HoloLens. Microsoft is calling this new product a fully “untethered” holographic computer.

This holographic computer looks nothing like the traditional computer with flat screen and keyboard leashed or connected to it. Instead HoloLens is in the form of goggles worn on the head. Microsoft is saying its new product will have no wires, no external cameras, no markers, and no connections to phones or PCs needed. This is what they mean by “untethered,”

The ‘screen’ is the space around you, seen through transparent glass lenses. Instead of a mouse, HoloLens is controlled by a combination of gestures and voice commands. It’s a new way of looking at computing.

HoloLens will not be displaying holograms in the classic sense. There will be no 3D images popping up in the middle of the room.

Instead, what is does is beam light straight into the user’s pupils. Only the wearer can see what’s being displayed. What makes HoloLens unique is that while the wearer can see what is being displayed, they can also see their natural surroundings.

Microsoft is claiming HoloLens takes technology and makes it more personal and interactive.

To make HoloLens work, Microsoft says it had to go beyond the GPU (graphical processing unit) and CPU (central processing unit). HoloLens has both of these, but it also requires a third processing unit called the HPU. That’s holographic processing unit.

Microsoft boasts that its new HPU processes terabytes of information gathered in real time from HoloLens’ many sensors. Capturing and tracking a user’s eye movement, gestures, and voice, there is no delay in response to commands it receives. It can reportedly spatially map your surroundings to display holograms on real world objects.

It’s debatable whether what HoloLens does can be considered actual holograms. A better way to reference it might be augmented reality. Whatever you choose to call it, HoloLens is a fascinating concept. There is no telling how well the finished product will work or how useful it will be.

Check out Microsoft’s video demo of HoloLens below:

Image: Microsoft

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Navigating the Storm: 100 Days to Cloud with Microsoft Partner Network

Navigating the Storm: 100 Days to Cloud with Microsoft Partner Network

There was heavy snowfall in and around Seattle for the first time in years, but the weather-watch didn’t stop 50-plus attendees and 10-plus speakers from engaging in Microsoft Partner Network’s 100 Days to Cloud workshop.

Navigating the Storm: 100 Days to Cloud with Microsoft Partner Network

The future of technology as a whole, and IT is in the cloud and the workshop was geared to help individuals and companies align themselves with the shift in market.

Organizations are more than aware they need to transition to the cloud. ‘We need to get on this cloud thing’ can be heard from conference rooms across the country, coupled with a collective shrug to the question of ‘how.’

We know what we have to do, but how do we get there?

That’s where the Microsoft Partner Network comes in, fully equipped with the infrastructure and mentorship to guide an individual’s/company’s transformation to the cloud.

What’s cloud ready? What needs to be cloud enabled? Are we dealing with any cloud-native applications? What do we currently have that’s definitely not cloud ready?

Simply put, it starts with a self-assessment to understand where you’re at.

“Start with the assessment. It’s what they had me do and I was fortunate to gain an objective view of where we’re at currently,” said Sujit Ghosh, owner of 3S Global, who went on his 100 days to cloud journey in 2016. “Cannot go where you need to be if you don’t know current state.”

Navigating the Storm: 100 Days to Cloud with Microsoft Partner Network

According to a report released by Bitglass in November 2016, there’s an incredibly high rate of adoption happening for cloud applications in general. This report found that over 59 percent of organizations worldwide either use Microsoft’s Office 365 or Google Clouds’ G Suite.

Why’s this 59 percent figure significant?

It’s over a 10 percent increase since 2015 (48 percent), indicating a rapid growth in deployment.

From the very first segment of the workshop, the goal was clear: not only understand what it takes to reach a certain level, but also how to be successful there. As Todd Nelmes, Karen Fassio, Sharon Lee and other Microsoft employees alluded to, companies have had proven success following the cloud-readiness model offered through the Partner Network. Complex ideas and processes — like this one in question about steps to cloud readiness — get broken down and laid out in an easy-to-follow manner, with other Partners’ journeys acting as the cornerstone of a growing ecosystem.

Navigating the Storm: 100 Days to Cloud with Microsoft Partner Network

Peer Mentorship

With the figures and trends all supporting rapid growth, the only hesitation lies in the individual’s willingness to take the leap and adopt.

Friday’s #CloudReady workshop featured six individuals who had gone through Microsoft’s 100 Days to Cloud transformation, essentially acting as guinea pigs to gauge the efficiency and quality of the program.

A job ‘well done’ would be an understatement.

The individuals — equipped with real life examples from their own journeys — provided highly-valuable tips and information to help break down any doubts about the journey to cloud adoption.

“You’re not selling Power BI, you’re selling a solution,” said James Farhat, CEO of ACTS, Inc., and tech visionary. “Today’s the day an individual can build a business around all of this.”

Navigating the Storm: 100 Days to Cloud with Microsoft Partner Network

Local Impact

What stood out specifically about Friday’s workshop was the focus on Washington state’s local economy, aimed primarily at helping smaller-to-mid-sized business to become cloud ready.

In the current infrastructure, it’s approximated that 37 percent of small businesses (US SMBs) are cloud-ready; that figure is projected to be at 78 percent by 2020.

Inspired by the Ignite Washington presence at the workshop, a portion of Friday’s discussion honed in on making sure smaller local businesses are taking advantage of the shifts in technology. Whether it was a specific on banking, or inquiries about HIPAA-related processes, the conversation allowed for these individuals to have their voices heard and solutions presented.

As Chaitra Vedullapalli of Meylah pointed out, it’s not just a matter of building on the cloud. 98 percent of small business are not mobile ready; 70 percent cannot transact online.

Those not grouped in with the 78 percent by 2020 will be left out of the stitches in this solution fabric that’s being developed.

Pitch Competition

Quite possibly the most rewarding aspect of the workshop was the cloud-ready pitch competition near the end of the day. By discussing one’s company and pitching its potential IP, individuals were able to not only get real-time feedback and guidance, but also receive five hours of free consultation directly from Microsoft’s technical consultants.

Attendees were given some time to jot down notes and highlight what makes their IP a true solution to a problem in the market. By having an open forum to discuss ideas — all received without judgement, but plenty of critique — attendees were able to properly understand what ultimately makes someone successful in the cloud.

“I don’t care if I win or not, I just want the chance to share my idea with you,” one attendee said before sharing an idea for his company’s IP. “To feel like the dream is alive again.”

The dream is more than alive; it can be a reality in the cloud with a little bit of guidance from the Microsoft Partner Network.

This article was co-developed with  Rohit Ghosh. Rohit has been working with IT Staffing for four-plus years, based out of Los Angeles, and is a content consultant for a variety of industries including IT, tech and sports. He has worked with major outlets including Yahoo! Sports, CBS, and Time Warner Cable.

Storm Photo via Shutterstock

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