Microsoft Survey: Small Businesses Increasingly Use Technology to Help Achieve Sustainability

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 29, 2008 — Small businesses increasingly rely on technology to help the environment and save money, according to results of a survey released today. Findings show that 60 percent of small-business decision-makers save money by using sustainable technologies.

The telephone survey — conducted on behalf of Microsoft Corp. by KRC Research — of 250 small-business IT decision-makers nationwide discovered a growing focus on environmental concerns. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported that their companies are more focused on being environmentally friendly than they were one year ago.

An overwhelming majority (69 percent) of respondents reported that environmentally friendly practices are important for their business. When it comes to methods for greening their business, 94 percent of those surveyed also believe technology is an important tool to help accomplish that goal.

“Technology can play a significant role in helping businesses lower their impact on the environment,” said Francois Ajenstat, director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft. “Microsoft helps by reducing the energy consumption of technology, helping manage environment footprint and rethinking business practices. This enables organizations to improve both their bottom line and the sustainability of their operations.”

The survey results reveal practices that small businesses see as most beneficial for the environment. Respondents identified a paperless office as the No. 1 green IT practice they feel also offers the greatest cost savings.

One survey participant, Joseph Hommel, chief operating officer and co-owner of Maui Office Machines and Furnishings, considers environmental practices for his business a natural extension of his personal lifestyle.

“Living and working on an island, being green is a necessity,” Hommel said. “To practice paperless communication, we use Microsoft Outlook to handle all client proposals. By sending everything electronically, we are able to include color and images in proposals easily for more effective communications. We have a very high rate of deal closure, and clients routinely tell us it’s because of the quality of our communications.”

Curtis Ryan, owner of EuroTan in San Antonio, Texas, switched to online marketing almost exclusively to promote his businesses, and the results benefit the environment and his bottom line.

“We used to send several bulk direct-mail pieces each year, with significant expense in design, printing and postage, but very low success rates,” Ryan said. “Now we’ve eliminated that waste of paper, and instead I use Outlook to send special promotions to our client database for a fraction of the cost and with outstanding results. I also use Microsoft Publisher to create and manage our Web sites, which has eliminated the cost of an outside vendor as well as the costs to maintain a listing in a printed telephone directory.”

The survey results highlight sustainable practices that small-business decision-makers believe represent the most savings potential for their business including the following:

  • Setting up standards to manage power consumption for computers, such as setting computers or monitors to sleep mode after a period of not being used (28 percent)

  • Allowing employees to telecommute (26 percent)

  • Upgrading server infrastructure with the most energy-efficient technology available (16 percent)

  • Using mobile technology (15 percent)

  • Conducting live meetings that share resources over the Web such as presentations (14 percent)

Microsoft offers solutions to help small businesses implement environmentally friendly IT practices. When it comes to creating paperless offices, Microsoft Office Live provides businesses with programs such as an online filing cabinet, where documents can be stored, shared, edited or read by anyone in the company. With devices equipped with Windows Mobile technology, these documents can be accessed from nearly anywhere, allowing more employees to work from home and keep their cars off the road.

Microsoft solutions also help reduce energy consumption. Windows Vista provides substantial energy savings compared with Windows XP. In fact, several independent analyses found that businesses switching to Windows Vista can actually reduce their power consumption costs and carbon emissions by half. The same holds true with Windows Server 2008, which is 10 percent more efficient than its predecessor.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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