Microsoft has announced the availability of Office 365 in nine new territories across the African continent. The entire suite of Office 365 packages is now also available in Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, Senegal and Zimbabwe. Office 365 is the next iteration of the company’s flagship Office product line which is made available for consumers, businesses and educational institutions via the cloud.
“Office 365 is available in various packages, each one specifically designed to meet a particular need,” says Marc Israel, Office Division Group Lead for Microsoft West, East and Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands. “This means that whether you are a consumer, educational institution, small to mid-size business or a large enterprise, we have an Office 365 package that will meet all your software requirements in in an always-up-to-date cloud service, at a predictable monthly cost.”
In Africa, in particular, the Small and Medium Business sector continues to play a big role, contributing heavily towards GDP growth and employment.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) estimates that SMEs represent over 90 percent of private business and contribute more than 50 percent of employment and of GDP in most African countries.
“One of the biggest challenges SMBs face in today’s harsh economic conditions is finding technology that meets their needs without breaking the bank,” says Marc Israel, Office Division Group Lead for Microsoft West, East and Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands. “Just because your company is smaller, it does not mean you should have to compromise on the type of technology available to you.”
Designed for companies with between 1 and 10 employees, Office 365 Small Business Premium gives organisations access to the richness of Office applications, extending the functionality to make it available via the cloud. The pay-as-you-go model can save customers between up to 20% of their software budget, without them having to compromise on the technology they have within their organisations. “Very few smaller organisations can afford the level of sophistication they need in terms of software,” says Israel.
Office 365 is more affordable and less complex – within 15 minutes a company can be up and running with a domain, website, email addresses and the other functionality they require to function. “Microsoft Office 365 has delivered on its inherent promises,” says John Robbins, President and CEO of Pear Workplace Solutions. “That’s why we deployed it, and it just works.”
Mobility is also critical in the African context and Office 365 allows users to access functionality across multiple devices at no extra charge. “We have employees based in regional offices in a number of countries around the world, and they expect to be able to connect to their email or other services from anywhere at any time, and from any device,” says Daniel Roach-Rooke, IT Infrastructure Manager at Aston Martin. Office 365 works the same on Windows PCs and Mac, and is compatible with iPads and Android tablets, enabling a mobile workforce and allowing organisations to overcome physical infrastructure limitations.
“Cloud computing has the potential to transform the region,” says Israel. “It enables global growth for businesses in emerging markets who are seeking to engage world markets in spite of a lack of traditional infrastructure.”
“As a cloud solution, Office 365 is accessible virtually anywhere, driving productivity and efficiency for Professionals, SMEs, and large enterprises,” says Israel. “It also allows for much simpler deployment, management and security through the easy to use web admin console, industry-leading virus and spam protection and a financially backed 99.9% uptime guarantee,” he concludes.