Microsoft Office is a well-established, widely used business productivity platform, but many users have a tough time understanding what Microsoft Office 365(O365) is. Often O365 is compared with the traditional Microsoft Office product line. Usually, the belief is by purchasing O365, a user simply receives Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. in a “cloud” version. Although that is true, Microsoft’s cloud offering comes with new, additional benefits that can significantly improve your workflow.
What is the difference?
Although Office 365 does provide the actual Office package, it is a small part of the features that come with O365. The real benefit is frequently underrated or even overlooked entirely. Office 365 creates an integral and strategic direction within the enterprise with the tools it provides. Besides traditional features such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, or Skype for Business Online, O365 provides security functions, data analyses, project work, real-time communication, social networks, and much more.
What’s the Motivation to Subscribe to a Cloud Service Like Office 365?
The driving factors in moving to a cloud subscription delivery of software are varying on your individual business needs. Here is just a few examples:
- A company is keen to focus on its core business that generates revenue. In very few enterprises, this is the establishment and maintenance of an extremely complex IT infrastructure.
- It is too expensive for the company to provide this kind of infrastructure with high availability and failsafe operations.
- A company does not have the human resources required to operate a complex IT infrastructure.
- A company would like to cut back on costs, e.g., for software licenses, storage capacity for many mailboxes, and the corresponding archive.
- A company is determined to use the latest software version at all times but shies away from the effort involved in ensuring that the latest updates are always installed in its IT infrastructure.
- A company plans to collaborate with external persons without being exposed to additional expenses for licenses or to security concerns.
These are just a small selection of standard application cases. A significantly more significant number of scenarios is conceivable if one considers the extensive features that O365 provides. Resolving the issue of whether O365 meets the needs of a company is only possible based on a profound knowledge of the available functionalities, reasonable restrictions, the effort involved, the complexity of integration, and an overview of costs.
Why Should Companies Use Office 365?
This question leads us back to the question of why O365 should be implemented. It would exceed the capacity of this article to produce any definitive answer to this question. You could write an entire book on the topic! So we will pick just one example that we hope gives you an idea of the why.
Let’s look at a medium-sized enterprise in the automotive industry. Of course, this company will also be reliant on a sound IT infrastructure. It follows, therefore, that resources, technology, and a budget will be made available to create a suitable IT environment. Besides being secure, current, and highly available, it also needs to be easy to maintain. Now we’ll pick the issues of maintenance and currency as our examples. The indicators of these two areas might be as follows:
- I need to maintain my systems to provide proactive protection against downtime.
- I need to maintain my systems to ensure their high-performance operations.
- I need to maintain my systems to protect them against security vulnerabilities.
What About Currency?
This does not mean just updating management or security patches. Instead, it is a question of creating a modern workplace. These days, some students or apprentices have better hard and software at their disposal than any number of companies. Many universities provide their students with a new Office package free of charge. Even O365 is starting to make inroads into university life.
So how will this influence our medium-sized enterprise? It’s straightforward: Today’s students expect similarly good technical equipment at their workplace as they are used to at home and school. Every young professional and new employee, regardless of whether they had previously been students or apprentices, would like to work in a modern and innovative company. Very often the conversations when sharing a drink after work are the same as they would be among five-graders in the playground: “Which telephone did you get from your employer?”, “Which Office version do you use?”. And who does not want to score points here as an attractive employer?
That’s just the one side. Another side presents the company with an even stiffer challenge. After all, how can I introduce a Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) solution without it taking forever? How quickly can I roll out the new Office, and will it then be compatible with my backend? Which resources and budget will I need to manage these projects?
There are plenty of arguments that favor the new software, and these examples are just two of them.
One Software Life-cycle
Now let’s take a look at how new versions of software or an IT solution are implemented in a company:
Source: Microsoft. The software life-cycle
2008: A new software solution is introduced, which satisfies the expectations of its users. In most cases, nothing will change for a few years after rollout. The lack of change has the following reasons:
- No budget
- No resources
- No management focus
So the software remains in use until the company is compelled to act. The push to upgrade may be prompted by the users, or by a cancellation of support.
New software versions with improved features are continuously released on the market between 2008 and 2020. IT decides to omit these versions. The decision comes with many disadvantages:
- User dissatisfaction
- New features are not available
Moreover, it becomes substantially more difficult to switch from an outdated version to a new one if several intermediate versions are left out. There are more than enough examples: Server 2003 to Server 2012, Office 2007 to Office 2016. And so on…
O365 means that companies always use the latest version without the need to implement significant migration projects or to provide substantial resources. The newest Office, Exchange, SharePoint, or Skype for Business product is available at all times. And this is precisely why the company should choose O365.
One of the significant advantages of O365 is the constant stream of innovation that is possible on a cloud platform. From products like Team, Planner, Flow, and others, there is a consistent development and release process that provides innovative tools that can enhance your workflow. A cloud solution does allow for a quacking and more efficient release cycle.
Microsoft’s O365 is a deep and impressive cloud offering for business productivity. Understanding what the capabilities are is critical to making an informed decision on selecting products that fit your business need and processes. We believe that O365 is a robust product that can provide exceptional value for a wide variety of businesses and should be vetted carefully.
Can we help? Do you need more details about Microsoft Office 365 and how it could work for you? Our experienced team of O365 experts can help and love to support you.