Microsoft expands bCentral with new services

Microsoft announced this week that its bCentral small business service has been expanded with three new subscription-based services that add to the Web hosting, email, and marketing services that were already provided. Microsoft bCentral, which the company positions as a small business Web portal, aims to Internet-enable and simplify business processes, so that businesses of any size can more effectively compete in the global market. With the release of these new services, which include commerce, customer, and financial management, Microsoft hopes to make bCentral a one-stop shop for small businesses.

"To date, relatively few small companies have really begun to harness the full potential of Web-based technologies," says Kathleen Hebert, the vice president of the Small Business Division at Microsoft. "The Internet is still mostly used for marketing or information gathering. With bCentral, we have the opportunity to provide small businesses with a completely new level of services: real-time customer interaction, customer self-service, powerful communication and information exchange, buy and sell capabilities, supply chain efficiencies, and process automation."

Microsoft's new services include the bCentral Commerce Manager, which will help small businesses manage every aspect of their e-commerce activity; the bCentral Customer Manager, for managing leads, customers, and partners; and the bCentral Finance Manager, a Web-based application for managing finances and accounting. The services will be phased in between November and early 2001.

For more information, please visit the bCentral Web site

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