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New AT&T, Microsoft Partnership Helps SMBs Collaborate

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By Edward Gately

AT&T and Microsoft have teamed up to provide a cloud-based service that allows small and midsize businesses to collaborate via voice, video and Web from any mobile device.

AT&T Mobile Office Suite includes access to voice calls; calendars; instant messaging; HD video conferencing; desktop and file sharing; and more, in an all-in-one bundle for a monthly cost.

While there are an increasing number of cloud-based services available, limited budgets and a lack of technical support often prevent small businesses from adopting them and fully implementing them.

“I’m constantly hearing from small and midsize businesses how important productivity is to them in this mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said Stephen Elop, executive vice president of Microsoft Devices Group.

AT&T Mobile Office Suite is now available on AT&T devices running Windows Phone, iOS or Android.

Chris Marsh, 451 Research’s principal analyst of enterprise mobile app strategies, said there “should be good business to be had in bundling up low-hanging-fruit productivity applications for mobile workers, especially as low-effort subscriptions.”

“With the first iPhone debuting in 2007, we are now arguably eight years into the mass smart mobility revolution, yet business mobile productivity remains an elusive creature,” Marsh said, commenting specifically on a ZDNet article. “It’s arguable how heavy the usage of Microsoft’s Office applications will ever be on smartphones and tablets beyond reading, light editing and content sharing, but for now, that is likely to suffice for companies desperate to raise the productivity of workers outside the office and roaming around office spaces, especially when bundled with core communications services.”

Key elements of AT&T Mobile Office Suite include:

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  • Access to cloud-based productivity tools such as Lync, Exchange, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneDrive from a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet;
  • Expanded click-to-call function for Lync Online that enables small business users to make and receive any type of domestic or international voice call while in the United States, including those from Lync, Skype, wireless and landline phones;
  • Works with AT&T’s wireless rate plan; and
  • Transition planning and onboarding, data migration and deployment services, and ongoing technical support.

AT&T also plans to add global audio conferencing later this month so that users can join Lync-based meetings from almost anywhere.

AT&T and Microsoft previously have teamed to increase access to cloud services. In 2013, for example, the software giant announced a joint venture with the carrier in which AT&T customers received VPN access to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.


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