How Office 365 launches your business focus into the future.
Now perhaps more than ever is a time for maintaining productivity wherever possible. Circumstances have changed dramatically for businesses in a very short space of time, but we are fortunate that most of us already have the tools to keep working and keep our organisations and our economy ticking along. And one of the key tools already widely out there is Microsoft’s Office 365. With it, your IT systems are future ready. You can see further, go further and achieve more every day.
Along with connectivity, the prevalence of laptops and other mobile devices means a good deal of the workforce has everything they need to take productivity with them. When Office 365 is added to devices and connectivity – or even better, it’s slightly beefier cousin Microsoft 365 – you have a powerful, secure and highly functional setup for getting the job done anywhere.
Having spent the past 18 months moving most of our customers into the Microsoft cloud (including Azure), they might not be in the office, but they are at work. That’s the go further bit; be just about anywhere and your office is along for the ride.
Now, the naming conventions for the Office 365 suite can be a little on the confusing side. To explain, Office 365 is the ‘usual’ productivity solutions we all know and love, like Word, Excel and Outlook, as well as OneDrive. Depending on the subscription type, Office 365 can include other solutions like Yammer, Teams and Planner.
(To add to the confusion, Microsoft has recently announced that Office 365 is to be renamed Microsoft 365 with Personal and Family subscriptions from 21 April 2020).
Microsoft 365 has all the features Office 365 , but also includes Microsoft EMS (Enterprise Mobility + Security), Windows 10 Enterprise, PowerApps and PowerBI. Microsoft 365 is designed for business and underpins the Modern Workplace (a distributed workforce); but the crucial differentiators really are EMS on the one hand, and PowerBI/PowerApps on the other. We’ll see why in a moment.
The power of Teams
First, I’d like to discuss one of the real gems within the 365 solution set, Teams. You’ll achieve more with teams because it drives your ability to conduct highly successful remote business and in fact, I’d describe Teams as probably the world’s best collaboration system. It’s not for no reason that Teams has seen massive growth this March, expanding by 37 percent in just one a week.
The obvious question for those who haven’t yet tried it is ‘What makes Teams so great?’ The short answer is that it is the hub for teamwork in Microsoft 365; if you’re new to Teams, check out this great video from Microsoft Mechanics.
The longer answer is that when working from home (or anywhere), Teams acts like the glue which keeps your actual teams together.
It does that by combining chat, video and voice call into a single solution, facilitating group conferences and virtual meetings with colleagues, customers and suppliers. Used in combination with Planner, you can see where your team members are, what they are working on, and when they are available to take on new tasks. And with SharePoint, group spaces facilitate rapid and convenient collaborative work, directly targeting that most common of bugbears, versioning.
Teams means it doesn’t matter where people are, because everyone is just a mouse click away. Right from one interface, you’re video chatting, using Instant Messenger, sharing screens and documents and more. With inclusion being such a challenge in today’s climate, Teams goes a long way to help make everyone feel like they’re on board and pulling in the same direction to achieve more
Security has never been more important
Coming back to EMS and the strange state businesses everywhere find themselves in, it’s arguable that sound security practices have never been more important. Corporate security policies and enterprise grade security must reach right into the homes of every team member, but at the same time, facilitating ease of collaboration has never been more important too.
That’s where EMS absolutely shines. What makes this combination of security essentials so good is its tight integration with the applications you’re already using every day (see the full detail of the EMS products here).
Along with the disruption of dispersing your operations, the threat environment is heightened as hackers won’t let a crisis go to waste – multiple ‘Covid-19-themed’ threats are emerging, so vigilance is needed along with great software. Microsoft has given mobile worker security a lot of thought, making things not only secure but (crucially) conveniently so.
PowerApps and PowerBI
While Microsoft 365 is a ‘one size fits all’ solution in as much as the general productivity applications are concerned, there’s (even) more to it than that. With PowerApps and PowerBI, custom connections and applications which do specific things for your business, and your business alone, are now on the table. You can see further into your own organisation and the broader world out there.
As the name implies, PowerApps enables building ‘low-code’ custom apps. It’s great for bridging gaps in processes, taking care of minor automations and integrations and – well, once you start using PowerApps with its built-in AI components and extensibility into Azure, your own horizons of the possible will expand.
PowerBI, on the other hand, puts sophisticated data analysis and visualisation in your hands. This is a tour de force because just as business continuity was once seriously costly (but now doesn’t cost anything extra), PowerBI puts business intelligence and valuable insights squarely in your hands. And I’ll stress the visualisation bit again, because not only do you get analysis, but the results are presented in a truly engaging way – one which doesn’t require a PhD to understand!
Business as usual, just not in the office
For those who have moved to Microsoft 365, the benefits are abundantly clear, particularly in the present climate. It’s keeping the Mercury IT staff working, connected, and engaged. Many of our customers are experiencing the same benefits, even if having to conduct business from home wasn’t an original reason for making the leap. Data is safe and secure – crucial for us as a Managed Services Provider, and crucial for every organisation.
Along with flexible licensing which allows installation to up to 5 devices (recognising the fact most of us have several gadgets we use together), Microsoft 365 is affordable, powerful and to many, ourselves included, indispensable.
We’re bringing the future to you this April
For tips and insights from IT thought leaders, register now for Mercury IT’s free webinar series. Wherever you’re based – at home or in the office – we’ll help you bring the future into focus with the Microsoft cloud.
Author- Sally-Ann Bird
Chief Sales Officer