Most people think Microsoft’s Office 365 is Word/Excel/Powerpoint and a bit of email in the cloud.
Office 365 is Microsoft’s name for a suite of software and technology solutions which are available under a subscription. There are 5 key elements we’ll be discussing these and how they can benefit your business.
The 5 key elements are:
- Microsoft Exchange Online
Microsoft Sharepoint Online
Microsoft Office 365 Applications
Microsoft OneDrive for Business
Microsoft Skype for Business (formerly Lync Online)
In addition, to the key elements, there’s also additional online services which are outside the scope of this overview.
Microsoft Exchange Online
Simply put this is your business email system in the cloud. Back in 2009 when the word “cloud” was fairly new, most businesses were skeptical of anything related to cloud. IT managers were up in arms about moving email to the cloud but that’s all changed.
Why? Well, it’s common sense really. Your email system at home is probably with a service provider like BT, Yahoo, Hotmail etc – you’ve never had a problem with it – it just works.
The business email system is a completely different story. You need a server onsite, someone to manage the server, take backups and make sure it’s secure, working and a rock solid internet connection.
There’s a lot of overhead in the on-premise email server (hidden costs) as well as a lot of risks built into the system. Fortunately most IT professionals have seen the light and email in the cloud is the new normal, anything else is either a risk to your business or an additional cost once if you look closely enough.
Antispam, email security, and backups are all taken care of by Microsoft Exchange online to boot.
What’s the most beautiful part to this service? The beauty of the system is its ease of use and management for your IT supplier or department. Because of this, it reduces time spent managing the system which effects the bottom line of your business.
Simple? Yeah well, let’s get onto something a bit more complicated within the mix…
Microsoft Sharepoint Online
Sharepoint is like a blank canvas we could talk to sundown on what the possibilities are. Let your imagination go wild – it’s all possible in Sharepoint.
There are even companies that exist who only deal with SharePoint but this is an overview so we’ll stick to the basics and what you should be thinking of using it for and how to get the most value out of it without employing a Sharepoint specialist.
Sharepoint Online allows you to create private or public websites to assist with the “sharing of information” in the business.
We’ll be talking about the private sites in this overview and assume you already have a public facing website on another platform.
Sharepoint sites are hosted within the Microsoft cloud there’s no need for server or maintenance – just like Exchange Online it’s super simple to get things started. But what do we start?
Well getting the basics right, asking the correct questions – like:
What information would you like to share within your company that can be accessed from anywhere? Sharepoint is not a replacement for an existing file server that might store your files centrally.
It’s an addition and should be thought of as such otherwise you run the risk of confusing staff and paying for something you don’t need.
Sharepoint makes it easy to communicate and share key information within the company but if it’s only two files that your sharing between two staff members as email attachments – SharePoint is not going make anything more efficient for you.
Where SharePoint works best:
- Central communication area for staff and company information Internal communications channel
Repository for company policies & procedures
Workflow management for business processes
ISO 9001 Document management, store, track, audit, and trace.
Team sites & project work.
Extranet sites and client portals.
This is by no means a definite list, as mentioned Sharepoint is like a blank canvas, it’s all about getting the basics right.
Microsoft Office 365 Applications
At Office 365’s core is the standard list of desktop applications everyone in business is familiar. As of 2015, the core applications are also available on not only your desktop PC or Mac but also android and Apple phones & tablets.
The beauty of the Office 365 version of these apps is the fact that you always have the latest version to hand. The old school way or purchasing Microsoft Office required an actual physical CD/DVD or download copy of Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013. You get the idea basically the version you purchased is the version you were stuck with.
As part of the Office 365, license subscription you’re entitled to the latest version of Office 365 – currently, at the time of writing the latest version is Office 2016. Why is this good for your business? Well, it means your staff are always on the latest version across the whole company – no legacy problems with 13+-year-old excel documents that hold the company account formulas and can only be opened by a select few computers.
Onedrive for Business
Microsoft’s answer to Dropbox and every user gets 1TB of space as standard.
The OneDrive application sits in your desktop tray and integrates with all Office applications and Microsoft Windows. OneDrive acts as a personal storage area where you can save files to.
The Onedrive application syncs these files to your OneDrive account up in the cloud. Because the files are synced to the cloud it gives you the ability to access and save files no matter where you are and on what device.
There are 2 flavours of OneDrive. “Onedrive for business” and just “OneDrive” they are very similar but the business version also allows you to sync libraries from a SharePoint site.
Skype for Business.
Formerly called Microsoft Lync this application has been around for a good few years now. It integrates with your outlook calendar. You can skype have meetings/presentations online using:
- Instant messaging
Desktop presentation and sharing
It’s also a really useful tool in the office for instant messaging between colleagues or clients. You can get an instant reply to a question you might have without the need to send an email which can result in a series of internal emails. Once your colleagues and yourself get into the habit of using this application you can reduce the number of internal email communications within the business.
In addition, to the instant messaging function, it can also work as a presence indicator allowing you to see who is in and out of the office.
This rounds up the overview of Office 365 we hope to have painted a good picture of what Office 365 actually is. If you have any questions or would like more information about Office 365 for your business get in touch with us by clicking here.