Our team helped create Microsoft’s first Hardware-as-a-Service offering for SMBs
Capturing the small to medium size business segment has been Microsoft’s biggest challenge. We took the first steps along with Microsoft Retail, and in partnership with Windows and Office, to approach SMBs in a whole new way: through an affordable and innovative new offering that allowed small businesses to spend less time worrying about acquiring the right hardware, software, and support, and more time growing their business.
The SMB segment is massive and something that Microsoft has struggled with. They own the Enterprise segment, but barely claim 5% of the SMB segment as their own. But the opportunity is huge and through the right approach, the best partners, and thinking way outside the box, we helped them take the first steps towards this seizing opportunity.
So what do small businesses really want?
A small business wants to grow. With limited capital, large outlays on computer hardware, software, and support is a no go. Our solution did away with these large expenditures, in favor of “leasing” approach, or a Hardware-as-a-Service approach as some may call it. Taking ownership out of the equation allows SMBs to pay a small fee every month and be entitled to the latest laptops, running the best Windows 10 Pro software with Office 365, and having access to the best support in the business. On top of all that, at least pre-Covid, one could get personalized help in any local Microsoft Store right around the corner. In part through our efforts, Microsoft Stores carved out a section geared specifically for the small business customer.
There’s a secular movement that’s happening…more to an annuity relationship as well as a subscription relationship. These are the long-term relationships we want to have with all customers,” Satya Nadella
Subscription services are of course all the rage these days, to the point that many now feel they may be another sign of corporate greed. We understood that, and along with our OEM partners, positioned this offering in a very attractive light. For as little as $35/month our prosumer customers gained access to a $1k laptop that gets refreshed every 2 years, enterprise level support that normally cost upwards of $25/month by itself, and with the full suite of Microsoft business software, of course subsidized to make this an even better deal, it was really a no-brainer solution for any small business customer.
We originally worked with Microsoft’s primary OEM partners Dell, Lenovo, and HP when piloting this offering in Microsoft Stores. We then expanded to other hardware manufacturers and other retailers around the world. Working with the ‘Best Buys’ of France, Germany, Japan, and elsewhere we brought a similar package to business customers everywhere.
Not just for business customers
This HaaS value proposition isn’t just for business customers. As a consumer such a package becomes pretty compelling too. Alongside our OEM HaaS offering, Microsoft ran its own Surface Membership option geared towards consumers. While it used different machines, support, and financing it still offered the same peace of mind of a large well-respected company having your back in the trying world of tech.