Microsoft and AT&T are partnering to provide small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that are invested in the Office 365 ecosystem with a new cloud-based solution that incorporates the productivity platform across mobile platforms (Apple iOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows).
AT&T Mobile Office Suite, announced today during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, is aimed at helping SMBs with limited IT know-how and resources leverage Microsoft Office's mobile collaborations features, regardless of device. The bundled offering, which works with smartphones and tablets on AT&T's network, includes access to Office 365 Online (Lync, Exchange, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneDrive) along with voice-over-IP (VoIP) integration and technical support.
"I'm constantly hearing from small and midsize businesses how important productivity is to them in this mobile-first, cloud-first world," recounted Stephen Elop, executive vice president of Microsoft's Devices Group and former Nokia CEO, in a statement. "So, it's especially exciting to introduce a solution that offers a mobility of experiences across devices."
Once confined to Windows PCs and Macs, in recent years Office has expanded onto the Web and popular mobile platforms. On March 27, 2014, shortly after taking the helm at Microsoft, CEO Satya Nadella launched the long-awaited native Office apps (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) for Apple's market-leading tablet, the iPad.
One of the bundle's big hallmark features is Voice Connection, according to AT&T's Abhi Ingle, senior vice president of Big Data and Advanced Solutions for the telecommunications giant.
"With this exclusive AT&T feature, business users get an expanded click-to-call function for Lync Online that enables them to make and receive any type of domestic or international voice call while in the U.S., including those from Lync, Skype, wireless and landline phones," he said in a March 2 blog post. Lync, soon to be Skype for Business, is Microsoft's enterprise VoIP and messaging platform. AT&T is also working on adding Global Audio Conferencing sometime this year, enabling users to attend Lync-based meetings from their device, regardless of where they roam.
Also part of AT&T Mobile Office Suite is a dedicated number that roams between mobile devices and landlines. "This allows employees to conduct a video conference directly from a job site using their tablets, or ensure their customers can reach them on their numbers almost anywhere, at any time, via voice calling or instant messaging," Ingle asserted.
AT&T also wants to make it easier for SMBs to adopt the solution with new deployment services. "Recognizing that every small to mid-sized business has unique technology and cloud migration circumstances, we include customized consultation, onboarding and transition services to help businesses get up and running quickly on the suite of tools and services," stated Ingle. SMBs requiring 24/7 technical support can resolve issues on AT&T's Web-based Productivity Suite portal.
AT&T Mobile Office Suite is compatible with the company's SMB wireless plans. As is the case with most cloud payment plans, the "all-in-one bundle is available for a predictable, flat monthly rate on any new or existing AT&T Windows Phone, iOS or Android smartphone or tablet," added Ingle.