Have you ever found that the fall, meaning September, is like the start of a new year? School starts in September, whether you’re in college or university or your children are going to school. Back to school means back to work for business owners as well. Just by chance, my fiscal year starts September 1st, so it’s a new year in my business. Last week, I kicked off my “new year” early with several members from Women in Biz Network. We were invited to tour Microsoft’s Technology Centre in Mississauga, where we, business owners, had a candid sit down with the Microsoft Small Business Staff. We shared the trials and tribulations (aka challenges and frustrations) of our businesses in relation to technology, how Microsoft has served us in the past and where we could go in the future.


As a professed tech geek, I was quite impressed and enamoured by their “toys”. They had several fully loaded meeting rooms with smart boards, like the ones that our children’s classrooms have, and a teleconference device that can scan the room (360 degrees) to capture and focus on the person/people talking.

But the jewel of the department is their broadcast room. There they can showcase different (simultaneous) scenarios with someone at a bus station/stop, office in another country, in their home, or coworking space and how one can work remotely and instantly with their products and solutions.

Lisa Gamble-Smith, SMB Sales Director, Microsoft Canada SMB listened carefully to our questions and had amazing suggestions for each of us and best of all – committed to help us find answers to our challenges. Lisa was so personable and approachable throughout the event – really putting us all at ease. The event was topped off with a lovely luncheon.

Sharing our challenges was when I realized that I wasn’t alone. We had common issues, and here are some of the themes that came up:

• Multiple uses for device/platform (including Apple/Mac integration)
• Project management
• Collaboration team/coworkers/clients
• Accessibility
• Use(s) of Mobile/tablets: device form factors
• Technology roadmap/solution: Apps
• Working with existing tech
• Support/Education Training in MS products

Some of the recommended Microsoft solutions to our issues were:
• OneDrive/Office 365
• Lync Webinar Software
Microsoft Surface Pro

The Microsoft SMB team is providing follow-up with various individual issues – including one of our members who is blind and requires assistive technology. If you find that you have similar challenges, be sure to watch for your invitation for training opportunities at the Microsoft Store with WIBN. I definitely can’t wait!

Do you have questions for Microsoft Canada SMB? Connect on Twitter @MSFTWork_ca


All photos taken by Doris Chung © 2014