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Now Online: A Century of Women’s Entrepreneurialism

REDMOND, Wash. – March 28, 2013 – At Microsoft, advocating for women in business is rooted in the corporate conscience, along with the belief in women’s power to blaze trails and shape their own destinies through entrepreneurship. In recognition of March commemorating both International Women’s Day and National Women’s History Month in the United States, Microsoft is shining a light on the stories of women entrepreneurs around the world and showcasing how technology has played a transformative role in enabling entrepreneurship.

Over the last 100 years, the upward trajectory of women entrepreneurs has been significant. Today, the proportion of the world’s sole-proprietor enterprises that are women-owned is between 20 and 40 percent. Women entrepreneurs have long fought to reach this level of representation in the world of commerce and enterprise, and they continue to fight for the continued advancement of women in business.

American W omen E ntrepreneurs

To explore these stories, Microsoft partnered with the U.S. National Women’s History Museum to launch a new online exhibit that examines the journey of American women who have started businesses over the last century.

Decade by decade, the exhibit explores the experience of women on their paths to economic and professional empowerment through stories, biographies and information about the socio-economic forces that have both hindered and helped this group over the last century. The exhibit also explores the pivotal role of technology in enabling women to launch and grow their business concepts, while balancing competing demands of work and life.

To add contemporary context to the conversation around women’s entrepreneurship, Microsoft commissioned a study among “new” and “established” entrepreneurs (those in business less than five years, and more than five years, respectively) to analyze the motivations, challenges and impact of technology associated with starting a business today. Among the findings was that technology has had a positive impact on an entrepreneur’s ability to launch a business: 71 percent of new entrepreneurs and 56 percent of established entrepreneurs agreed technology reduces the time needed to get a business up and running, a reality that is reflected in millions of tech-era success stories, both in the exhibit and continually unfolding around the globe.

Women E ntrepreneurs A round the World


Business technologies have catalysed women business owners to carve out corporate niches and independent professional identities. For example, Natalia Dimitrova recently founded Acta Verba, a PR company based in Bulgaria. Dimitrova launched her own business because she wanted to develop her professional passion in consulting, while striking a more flexible work-life balance that allowed her more time with her children.

Dmitrova uses Microsoft technology, including Lync, Outlook and Word, for the day-to-day activities of her business. She says she chose Microsoft because of a user-friendly interface, quality and security, which ultimately enables her to complete tasks efficiently, achieve greater organization and devote more time to family and friends. “Microsoft has taught me that if one follows her dreams, success is right around the corner – it’s just a matter of time to reach that corner,” she says.

Microsoft research and conversations with women entrepreneurs have also revealed that the desire to be one’s own boss, and the associated potential for greater flexibility and work-life balance, is a leading reason women start businesses. In this context, technology is a critical asset in facilitating business communications and operations, and in bridging businesswomen’s personal and professional interests. Cloud productivity solutions like Microsoft Office 365 have facilitated the entry of many women entrepreneurs in both established and emerging markets. Removing many traditional barriers to marketplace entry, including resource constraints and lack of deep technology knowledge, cloud technology offers secure and mobile business collaboration and productivity options at a price point affordable for many small business owners. Its accessible productivity and collaboration features allow women entrepreneurs to present their concepts and operate on a level playing field with large, established competitors.

For more examples of women-owned businesses launched by technology, check out the slideshow below. Visit the Microsoft Business Hub to explore the exhibit and additional stories of female entrepreneurship, as well as find business-building resources for all small businesses and entrepreneurs.


Bing Hosts an Exclusive Dinner With New York Foodies and Chef Marcus Samuelsson

NEW YORK — March 28, 2013 — Bing recently hosted a special night in New York City with Chef Marcus Samuelsson at his Red Rooster Harlem restaurant to share a night of delicious food, great company of like-minded New York foodies, and demonstrations of how to bring technology to the dining experience. Chef Marcus served up a variety of dishes for guests to enjoy, as he shared his love for technology and how he uses Bing in the kitchen and when he travels. Guests were able to experience Bing Translator and Bing Local Scout throughout the event, including using Translator to interpret a French recipe to English.

First U.S. We Day Inspires 15,000 Youth to Change the World

REDMOND, Wash. — March 27, 2013 — Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer joined the We Day stage, along with Free The Children co-founders Marc and Craig Kielburger; award-winning musicians Macklemore, Jennifer Hudson and Nelly Furtado; social activists Mia Farrow, Magic Johnson, Martin Luther King III and Martin Sheen; and other inspiring activists, to help 15,000 local youth celebrate their passion for making a difference.

The support springs from the company’s YouthSpark initiative launched in September 2012, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world over the next three years. Kids attending We Day Seattle explored how they can make a difference by turning their passions and talents into social action. In fact, every young person in attendance made a commitment to contribute their time to one local and one global social action project through We Act.

To Celebrate Kids Helping Kids Across the Globe, Microsoft Sponsors First U.S. We Day

SEATTLE — March 27, 2013 — At the age of 12, while looking for the morning comics in the newspaper, Craig Kielburger stumbled upon a news item about a 12-year-old boy killed in Pakistan for speaking out against child labor. Outraged by the story, he desperately wanted to do something to help. After a number of phone calls and attempts to contact nonprofit organizations, Kielburger realized it wasn’t so easy for kids to get involved with social activism. That’s when he got an idea.

That same year, the young Canadian founded his own nonprofit, Free The Children, to pave the way for kids to help other kids around the world. Twelve years later, in 2007, Kielburger took his organization to the next level, launching the We Act program in schools across Canada and creating a more widespread approach to helping youth make a difference. As part of the program, Free The Children hosts a celebration in each participating city called We Day.

Today Microsoft Corp. is helping bring We Act to the U.S. by sponsoring a We Day event at Seattle’s KeyArena. The support springs from the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world over the next three years.

Young People Celebrate We Day
Young People Celebrate We Day
March 26, 2013
Youth gather at We Day to discover how they can channel their talent, energy, focus and expertise to solve societal challenges in their local communities and around the world.
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YouthSpark and We Day: An Inspiring Fit

Kids attending We Day Seattle will explore how they can make a difference by turning their passions and talents into social action. They’ll also get to rock out to live music, be creditunionagent.com inspired by celebrities and activists, and connect with one another around their common desire to change the world. In fact, every young person in attendance today has made a commitment to contribute their time to one local and one global social action project. This stadium-sized celebration rewards kids for their participation in the yearlong We Act program, which provides Seattle-area students and educators with free educational resources, pre-packaged campaigns for students to lead in support of community service and international development projects, and guidance to help kids use their passion and talents to get involved in their local and global communities.

As part of the Seattle We Day event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will speak to the audience of 15,000 youth about his passion for technology and how it can help change the world. The celebration also will feature presentations by world-renowned activists, such as Martin Luther King III, Magic Johnson, Mia Farrow and Martin Sheen; musical performances by award-winning singers and musicians including Jennifer Hudson and Nelly Furtado; and testimonials from local heroes who have made a difference either in the Seattle community or around the globe.

“We Day fits right in with our YouthSpark initiative, which is about empowering young people to imagine and realize their full potential,” says Lori Harnick, general manager of the Global Citizenship and Public Affairs Team at Microsoft. “Technology plays a big role in this empowerment by providing young people with the tools and skills to pursue their dreams, and an event such as We Day provides the inspiration to turn talent into transformation.”

At We Day, young people come together to discover how they can channel their talent, energy, focus and expertise to solve societal challenges in their local communities and around the world.

“Free The Children’s mission is about freeing children all over the world from poverty, exploitation, violence, bullying and all the negatives, but it’s also about freeing young people at home from the idea that they’re too young to make a difference and from the limits that are often put on their potential,” Kielburger says. “When you come to a We Day event, you stand in a stadium with all these other kids who feel as motivated as you do and you realize that changing the world is possible.”

Along those lines, Free The Children created We Act to bring community service learning to youth in a more effective way. The We Act program uses a simple equation to motivate young people to take steps toward making a difference: Gift + Issue = Change. By helping kids apply their unique gifts and identify their personal issue, We Act shows them how simple it is to make a difference.

“We want to establish community engagement as an educational pillar in every person’s life as much as reading, writing, arithmetic, music or sports,” Kielburger says. “We’ll have more than 100 school districts across Washington taking part in this program. We would never have had the opportunity to provide We Day, along with the We Act program in schools, without the financial support of an amazing corporate citizen such as Microsoft.”

Big We Day Event
Big We Day Event
March 26, 2013
Microsoft and Free The Children welcome 15,000 youth to the first U.S. We Day to listen to great, live music; be inspired by celebrities and activists; and connect with one another around their common desire to change the world.
Downloads:
Web

Microsoft also has supplied volunteers and technology to power the state-of-the-art event. Kids at the event will have an opportunity to connect online with communities around the world, and special guests will dial in via Skype to share their community service experiences. In addition, event attendees and We Day online viewers will have the opportunity to write a short statement about their commitment to change the world and enter a sweepstakes to win Microsoft Surface or Windows Phone 8 devices. Beyond helping make We Day possible, Microsoft has supplied Seattle-area middle and high schools participating in the We Act program with technology and other resources to help support students and their commitment to changing their world.

YouthSpark Ambassadors and Reporters

Specifically for We Day, Microsoft has equipped 50 YouthSpark ambassadors — selected from schools participating in the We Act program — with a Microsoft Surface device, which they will use to share their experience at KeyArena with their classmates, friends, family and those tuning in from around the world (click here to stream the live webcast). In addition, three youth will have special access to roam the arena on We Day and interview participants, including celebrities, business participants and community leaders, about their experiences; capture backstage excitement; and tweet and blog about the event as a Microsoft YouthSpark reporter.

Oklahoma City Thunder Scores With Microsoft Dynamics

REDMOND, Wash. — March 20, 2013 — In only its fifth season, the Oklahoma City Thunder already possesses one of the best home court atmospheres in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Welcome Home Thunder
Welcome Home Thunder
March 19, 2013
More than 4,000 fans showed up at Will Rogers World Airport to welcome home the Oklahoma City Thunder following its first appearance in the NBA Finals.
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In 2008, Oklahoma City began building an NBA franchise from the ground up, aiming to develop a sports institution deeply rooted in the city’s culture and identity. To generate and maintain fan loyalty, the Thunder also strove to create an experience that went beyond just having a great basketball team.

“We knew we needed a business strategy that focused on our fans,” said Scott Loft, vice president of Ticket Sales, Retention and Database Operations for Oklahoma City Thunder. “Our vision was to make the Thunder the most fan-centric organization in professional sports. When fans enter the Chesapeake Energy Arena for a Thunder home game, we want them to feel like guests rather than customers or numbers.”

Plans to deliver exceptional customer service were executed to personalize the fan experience. The Thunder customer service team promoted various campaigns, collected metric-based research data and shaped its training programs. To succeed in these efforts the team needed a user-friendly customer relationship management (CRM) system to help manage all aspects of guest satisfaction.

The franchise selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 over Salesforce.com because of its flexibility, ease of use, integration capabilities and lower total cost of ownership. The Thunder wanted to use the industry-standard Ticketmaster solution for ticketing, and Hitachi Solutions helped the Thunder build a Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation that wrapped every touch point of the fan experience process around the ticketing package.

“We used Microsoft Dynamics CRM to design a CRM system that allows us to personalize our fan experience,” Loft said. “It provides our staff the right tools and knowledge to create memorable guest experiences.”

This focus has paid off. According to the team’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a system that helps businesses measure customer satisfaction, the Thunder has an NPS of 91.2 percent — more than twice as high as the NBA average.

Oklahoma City Thunder Fans
Oklahoma City Thunder Fans
March 19, 2013
Fans cheer on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Web

Microsoft Dynamics CRM created accountability within and standardization of the company’s guest care best practices and now serves as the centralized repository for all customer information, providing a 360-degree view of franchise guests. The Thunder also uses four additional solutions that work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to verify data that closely measures guest satisfaction.

“We endeavor to provide a memorable experience that keeps fans coming back for more,” said Karlis Kezbers, director of Season Ticket Retention for the Thunder. “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can do just that by creating fun fan experiences even outside basketball season. The opportunities to enhance the guest experience in a nonbasketball setting are endless.”

More than 18,000 fans visit the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thunder game nights. The team’s CRM system contains preferences for thousands of fans, which helps customer service representatives tailor each guest’s individual experience. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has allowed the Thunder to capture valuable personal data about guests through a Season Ticket Member Preference Center.

Bison Hug
Bison Hug
March 19, 2013
Rumble the Bison makes friends with an Oklahoma City Thunder fan.
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All data from that preference center and an online survey program are transferred in real time as captured into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, making it easy to view important information individually. To date, the team has had 60 percent of its season ticket base provide basic information about their favorite players, favorite opponents, birthdays, family members’ information and lifestyle activities, such as hobbies, favorite foods and social networking data.

“When guests share their Twitter and Facebook profile names, that opens another channel of engagement between our organization and customers,” Loft said.

The franchise provides guests with the means to keep in touch with the team and other fans via social media and encourages fan feedback through telephone, email and online surveys. This data is fundamental to ensuring the customer support team can consistently improve.

All interactions are compiled into a monthly trending report that delivers a snapshot view of the current level of customer service. At the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2013 conference in New Orleans, the Thunder shared how these customer satisfaction scores have soared since the team implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In fact, the Thunder has been ranked the top NBA team in terms of the overall fan experience; 99 percent of guests have rated their overall experience as “good” or “excellent.”

“Our loyal fans are the driving force behind everything we do,” Loft said.

Chobani Increases Its Appetite for Business Growth With Microsoft Technologies

REDMOND, Wash. — March 19, 2013 — When Chobani's operations began in a shuttered factory in 2005, its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, had no idea the company would rapidly become the No. 1-selling yogurt brand in the United States. He simply wanted to create a delicious, high-quality product for consumers. At the time, Chobani’s original five employees used just one truckload of milk each day to make their tasty product. Today, the company needs enough trucks to ship more than 2 million cases of yogurt each week between its two production facilities in New York and Idaho.

Chobani Plant in Twin Falls, Idaho
Chobani Plant in Twin Falls, Idaho
March 18, 2013
Chobani’s Twin Falls, Idaho, plant is the largest of its kind at 1 million square feet.
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Rapid business growth can be too much of a good thing unless you have the proper technology to keep up with the high-speed pace of sales.

As a startup, Chobani had limited IT resources in place, and employees did most of the production and customer tracking work in Microsoft Excel. This approach was fine when the company was small; however it quickly became insufficient as the staff size skyrocketed to more than 2,200 employees who process more than 2 million pounds of yogurt daily and contribute to roughly US$1 billion in annual sales in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

To sustain — and ideally even surpass — this rate of growth, executives knew they needed to implement a robust business solution to provide inventory control as well as supply chain and warehouse management. They went looking for a system that was easy to use and could scale with the pace of their business. Most important, the system needed to allow the staff to remain focused on ensuring the production of high-quality, authentic, strained Greek yogurt.

“At Chobani, we’re focused on making one cup of quality yogurt at a time,” said Maureen A. Hurley, vice president of information technology at Chobani. “We guide all of our decision-making processes — from milk selection to IT solutions — on the desire to lead and grow while keeping things simple, efficient and focused on producing the perfect cup each and every time.”

After researching a range of options, Chobani selected Microsoft technologies, including Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to meet the needs of its people and keep pace with its aggressive plans for future growth.

The Chobani team especially liked the flexibility Microsoft business solutions enables, since workers can roll out new modules swiftly and add functionality over time as needed. The system is used throughout the company to review production numbers and distribution levels to more deeply understand and analyze the company’s performance and current business challenges.

“Microsoft Dynamics AX lets us track the entire process of transforming milk and cultures into fresh yogurt — from the processing facility to distribution channels and, finally, right to grocery store shelves,” Hurley said.

Yogurt Production Begins in Twin Falls, Idaho
Yogurt Production Begins in Twin Falls, Idaho
March 18, 2013
The first cups of yogurt produced at the Chobani facility in Twin Falls, Idaho.
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As a result of implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX, Chobani experienced lower production costs, inventory control and reduced employee workloads. The company had its state-of-the-art processing plant in Idaho, the largest of its kind at 1 million square feet, up and running on Microsoft Dynamics AX in just 27 days, which helped increase shipment speed to various distribution locations.

Another large portion of Chobani’s success stems from its interaction with consumers, which Microsoft Dynamics helped enhance.

“As our company grew, so did the volume of messages from consumers across the world. We receive hundreds of contact messages and phone calls daily,” Hurley said. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM has enabled us to make that feedback actionable, to better track and understand what our customers want, and to continue to provide best-in-class service. This has helped us build deeper, more immediate connections with our fans and continue our growth.”

Further, the business suite has helped the company get beyond the online space and connect with customers face to face. Chobani SoHo, a one-of-a-kind Mediterranean yogurt bar in New York, invites customers to experience an artisanal menu starring fresh Chobani. In 2010, Chobani launched the CHOmobile, a truck that samples the company’s products at various events across the U.S.

“Our CHOmobile travels to festivals and events, delivering hundreds of thousands of cups of our freshest yogurt directly to customers,” Hurley said. “We can then track these interactions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to see a complete picture of our customers’ preferences and habits.”

Maureen Hurley
Maureen Hurley
March 18, 2013
Maureen A. Hurley, vice president of information technology at Chobani.
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Chobani’s customer loyalty team works directly with customers, using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to track nutritional inquiries, complaints, coupon requests, product donation requests, recipe submissions and more. The Microsoft Dynamics solution gives Chobani employees crucial feedback, helping them understand what customers want and better connect with them to continue providing exceptional service.

“We are very passionate about our commitment to deliver beyond what we produce. Our philosophy is ‘nothing but good.’ And we live those words every day,” Hurley said. “Nothing but good is what we say; that's what we deliver. It guides who we are as people, as employees and as a corporation.”

The “nothing but good” philosophy also drives Chobani’s employees to give back to local communities whenever they can. Despite its rapid growth, Chobani has stayed true to its roots, giving 10 percent of its profits to individuals working toward positive, long-lasting change through its Shepherd’s Gift Foundation.

This morning at the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2013 conference in New Orleans, Chobani discussed the ways in which its technology suite has helped the company grow while maintaining its commitment to quality, customer satisfaction and community involvement.

“Microsoft Dynamics has contributed to our success and consistent growth,” Hurley said. “We can’t wait to see how it keeps us one step ahead as our business continues to flourish.”

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