Are you really using Microsoft 365 for Digital Transformation?
Are businesses truly making the most of Microsoft’s flagship productivity suite?
Microsoft 365 provides extensive flexibility between office working and remote working. In our current COVID-defined work landscape, this has the potential to permanently transform work environments; and many businesses believe this is exactly what Microsoft 365 is doing. However, others are only scratching the surface of Microsoft 365 capabilities and are missing out on the full potential of the suite. To examine the untapped potential of Microsoft 365, we need to understand its most important components.
The centrepiece of Microsoft 365, the Office apps, include Microsoft’s flagship productivity programs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more. These are the applications that most people are familiar with, and until recently Microsoft 365 was named Office 365. Today, the Office apps contain numerous features to assist with collaboration and workplace flexibility, allowing easy file- and work-sharing between employees. This alone is a key enabler for flexible productivity in the modern business, but it is far from all that Microsoft 365 has to offer.
SharePoint provides a virtualised intranet – just like a familiar office intranet, but with the flexibility of cloud-based long-distance communication. This offers all the features of a cloud storage app for your files replacing more traditional on-premise file servers and works collaboratively with OneDrive, the Office suite and Teams to increase productivity and improve efficiency. More importantly, it allows management to set clear parameters for staff behaviour, and the ability to track activity for record-keeping and auditing.
InTune allows remote management and control of company-owned devices and apps. Policy-based parameters allow finely tuned control over what users can do with shared files, letting management set file restrictions, protect valuable information and prevent data loss. InTune allows you to enforce policies to protect your organisation and data to ensure you are compliant. An example policy could be the location in which the device is connecting from, if they are 2FA protected, if the user’s mobile device has a secure PIN enabled, if Windows and anti-virus are up to date and the device is encrypted with BitLocker. With the additional benefits of Auto Pilot, admins can configure a device in the InTune portal and then deploy the Office applications, domain services and apps centrally, this reduces the time to setup a device and allows for global setup without the expense of travel and onsite visits.
Previously known as Microsoft Flow, Power Automate is a flexible and customisable automation solution that can synergise with over 220 services, allowing a business to save on time and labour even in a decentralised work environment. This lets businesses work without clunky email attachments and streamlines the review and approval process, allowing managers to keep work flowing smoothly.
An update to the concept of video conferencing, Microsoft Teams is an integrated long-distance meeting and team management application. Its functions include multi-user chats and conferences, business calls and Office-integrated collaboration, allowing multiple users to make real-time edits and additions to documents. A more recent Direct Routing feature allows incoming calls to be routed directly to specific staff, making Teams a potential alternative for Skype, Zoom and a traditional reception desk – but all in one application.
Between all these apps and components of Microsoft 365, businesses have the potential to run completely in the cloud, with effectively a virtual office space and all the options for file-sharing, security and management that a traditional workplace offers. The flexibility available from 365 also allows a hybrid workplace sitting at any point between our traditional physical offices and this combined cloud-office. However, full potential cannot be realised without proper implementation, which many businesses are neither pursuing nor achieving.
Yet businesses don’t maximise the services they have at their fingertips
Considering the scope of Microsoft 365 capabilities, most organisations are severely under-utlising the suite, even while their directors believe it is already revolutionising their workplace. Microsoft 365 is often treated as a simple productivity suite with cloud storage and basic file-sharing, without diving deeper into how Microsoft 365 can fully aid productivity.
In the U.S., 4.7 million people were working from home even before the pandemic. This will have risen through 2020. In the UK, the number of people working exclusively from home rose from 21% of the workforce to 24% of the workforce . The COVID pandemic has merely accelerated a process that is already happening. OGL Computer has been helping businesses adjust their strategy and workflow to maximise productivity in this rapidly emerging landscape of telecommuting and work-at-home, and Microsoft 365 is a key piece in this process.
As things stand, many companies are using Microsoft 365 but not getting the best possible return on their investment. With so many businesses and enterprises struggling to stay profitable – or even operational – during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to revolutionise the workplace for the benefit of both the business and its employees.
What businesses can do
The business world has never had a greater incentive to transform its operations with flexibility and versatility, ready for the digital age. As we transition into a new world, we are seeing a greater than ever need for businesses to take this opportunity, to transform themselves and adapt. Microsoft 365 offers huge potential to enable this, but executives and managers need to be ready to fully unlock its capabilities before it can be deployed effectively. Businesses need to establish a road map to define how Microsoft 365 is going to be incorporated into its workflow ‒ and needs to be ready to train its staff to manage these adjustments.
This can only be achieved with an intimate knowledge of Microsoft 365’s features, use-cases and limitations. Microsoft 365 in its current state is still new to the industry and while there are plenty of long-time Office users in the workplace, managers and directors with in-depth experience of Microsoft 365’s other apps are rare.
It is likely that many organisations will need to engage an IT services provider to get beyond scratching the surface of what Microsoft 365 can offer. Ideally, an enterprise would engage a bespoke service that will use its expertise and work along with the client business. OGL Computer’s Solutions Architects have been working with IT Directors to maximise their use of Microsoft 365 and benefit from the full potential scope of the product in the best way for their business. For example, Lifestyle Appliances, uses Office 365, which not only helps the company create a modern working environment by being able to work remotely, but it supports IT security, as hosting emails in the cloud allows them to be safely backed up.
As it is currently being deployed by many organisations, Microsoft 365 is a good, reliable productivity suite with plenty of modern-day features. If management were given the knowledge and familiarity to make full use of the suite and deploy it strategically, it would open the door for any business and its staff to find the absolute best way to adapt to the changing times.
The only obstacle is that lack of intimate knowledge of Microsoft 365’s full capabilities. Our solution is to engage an effective consultancy and support service that will take the time to fully understand a business and its needs before developing and implementing a plan to meet the future of the IT and cyber landscapes.