Microsoft Office 365 as a SAAS solution for the Digital Workplace

    Take a look at Microsoft Office 365 from a Digital Workplace perspective, including real game changers: collaboration, sharing and contextualisation.

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    People don't understand why the tools they use in the office should be more complex than the tools they use at home. They want to work when, where and how they want, on the devices of their choice. Enter the buzzword "‘The Digital Workplace’. The Digital Workplace encompasses all the technologies people use to get their work done in new, flexible and innovative ways.

    "New, flexible and innovative ways": that is exactly what businesses are struggling with. They already have e-mail, intranet, instant messaging, enterprise social media or an office suite in place, but getting work done isn't getting easier or more productive. Applications often lack integration, or they don't work outside the company firewall.

    From the perspective of employees, this can be quite a frustrating experience. In the Digital Workplace Manifesto, we read that "Work is no longer a place" - a good starting point to explore SAAS (Software As A Service) solutions for Digital Workplace solutions. In this post, we'll be giving an overview of Microsoft's Office 365 from a Digital Workplace perspective.

    Microsoft Office 365 as SAAS: (basic) advantages

    SAAS solutions are subscription based software solutions where the software is hosted in the cloud. SAAS products, such as Microsoft Office 365, obviously eliminate infrastructure costs and some of the licensing costs. Office 365 also makes the most common Microsoft applications, such as Office, Outlook and SharePoint available anywhere, anytime and from every device.

    Integration between all the different products within the Office 365 suite is getting increasingly better. For example: it is now possible to start a Yammer discussion from inside the Word Online application. And from within Outlook, you can mail a OneDrive file as a link; the permissions are adjusted accordingly. With this link, your contacts always access the latest version of the document.

    Cloud-only features in Microsoft Office 365: four real game changers

    Whilst in the beginning the difference between on-premise and SAAS products wasn't that big, SAAS is taking big leaps forward.

    Office 365 now offers a range of new features which are not available on-premise just yet. The new functionalities vary from full to a range of small features - all game changers and very useful productivity wins.

    The first of these is the fact that you can now use Word, Excel and PowerPoint from within the browser with concurrent editing. Colleagues can work together on the same document, at the same time and they can see each other’s changes in real time.

    An example: suppose you're working in a team on an important presentation for a new customer; Office 365 allows you to make last minute edits to the presentation on your tablet during your commute. Any changes you make can be viewed instantly by your fellow authors. That means that you and every member of your team will have the same, up to date version of the document, ready to present it to your customer.

    The screenshot below shows you how two colleagues can work on a proposal together - keeping track of each other's changes.

    You can now use Word, Excel and PowerPoint from within the browser with concurrent editing

    A second step forward is the ability to share information with people outside of your organization. Sharing content with external parties is often an obstacle, because of company firewall settings, security, confidentiality etc. You can now easily share documents from OneDrive or SharePoint with a public link; access to the document is restricted to the recipients of that link. If your documents require more security, let's say for legal documents, you can choose to have them login with a Microsoft account.

    The image below shows how you can share documents and manage security settings in Office 365.

    You can share documents and manage security settings in Office 365

    A third one is Office Delve, which exposes content from the whole suite that it thinks is relevant for you, based on the context of your documents. Assume you're attending a weekly meeting with your team, based on the meeting invitation, Delve can provide you with the slides and meeting notes from last week's meeting. Or, if you're looking for a document on a certain subject, Delve can show you content created by your direct colleagues, working in the same field, based on the structure of your organization.

    Another major benefit of using Office 365 is the fast-paced release model, where features are rolling out incrementally to everyone as soon as they are ready. We will dig a little deeper into this subject in a future blog post.

    Cloud: the place to be?

    SAAS in general and Office 365 specifically offer great advantages on our road towards a truly digital workplace. There have already been significant changes and there are more to come. On-premise solutions are long but dead, but if you want improvements now, the cloud is the place to be.

    Published on    Last updated on 01/08/2018

    #Digital Workplace, #Office 365, #Collaboration

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