Microsoft has millions of subscribers to Office 365 services, but what is it about this platform that attracts so many businesses? Our five top reasons are:
Collaboration – Having an effective method of document collaboration has always been a bit of a sticking point for businesses. In the past, there have been all sorts of “solutions”, everything from, emailing the file back and forth to saving the document on the local file server, where only one person can access it while everyone else gets the dreaded “read-only” message. With the latest Office 365 OneDrive client syncing your central Sharepoint document library, multiple staff running Office 2016 can access the same file and see changes being made in real-time, while only restricting others’ access to the bit that you’re working on.
Skype for Business messaging and screen sharing – previously called Office Communicator and then Microsoft Lync, this handy little tool has really changed the way that staff communicate with both internal staff and external clients. Rather than writing up a lengthy email, you can just shoot the recipient a quick message. Office 365 has taken on a lot of the legwork typically associated with installing and configuring Lync/Skype for Business (SfB), and then configuring ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services) to allow communication with external companies. With other Office 365 clients, or companies running properly-configured SfB and ADFS, all you need is their email address. Another handy feature is the ability to make calls (to individuals or groups), and share your screen – to allow for remote support or presentations.
A unified platform – integration with other Microsoft products – With Azure Active Directory handling authentication behind the scenes for Office 365, Microsoft is really looking to give Office 365 users a true single sign-on experience for as many of their products as possible. At present, you can use your Office 365 username and password (and in some cases, multi-factor authentication token) for a number of MS products – Windows 10, the full range of Office products, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Azure, amongst others. More products and services are being added all the time.
Pricing that is both flexible and predictable – this is, for many small businesses, one of the most appealing features of Office 365. Costs are calculated on a per-user-per-month basis, and you can choose the length of time you want to purchase a license for. If the number of employees your business employs fluctuate regularly, you’ll probably benefit from purchasing month-by-month licenses, without the need to pay for licenses you no longer need. If the number of employees is more stable, you can save on the overall monthly cost by committing to a full year’s subscription.
Simplified licensing – let’s face it. Microsoft licensing can get confusing, and in a traditional on-premises environment, can quickly become unmanageable if not carefully maintained. This can lead to extensive and unplanned-for costs further down the road in the event of a Microsoft audit. Office 365 removes a lot of this complication and can help avoid any nasty surprises in the form of a hefty licensing bill that’s definitely not in the budget.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what Office 365 can offer, and as with all such decisions, the needs of the individual business assessing the jump to Office 365 need to be assessed before making a decision. If you would like to learn more about how Office 365 can benefit your business, or have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Starboard IT.