office 365

Unless you have been living underneath a rock for the past few years, you have at least heard mention of Office 365. Microsoft had long been the bedrock of most business technology, making the ubiquitous products that everyone uses for business like Windows (the Operating System) and Office (the productivity suite including Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and more). But somewhere between 2005-204 or so, under the guise of their polarizing past CEO Steve Balmer, Microsoft fell off the wagon of popular appeal. Maybe it was Vista, or the Zune, or the fact that there were tons of compatibility problems. Many predicted that Microsoft would become a dying brand and serve an ever more insular business networks while the cool kids like Google and Apple revolutionized everything else. It turns out nothing could be farther from the truth. Under the new purview of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has churned out a variety of business solutions that play nice with competitive products, take productivity to new levels for any user, and cost less than ever before. The centerpiece of this ecosystem is Office 365, which has brought technology that used to cost a fortune to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Here are four ways that Office 365 can revolutionize your business.

Email: If you are using Google Apps, or any other mail provider for your business email, stop, and switch to Office 365. Office 365 is popular, according to the Okta Business @ Work Report it was the most popular cloud app in 2015 for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft has overtaken Google, SalesForce and Box to achieve that honor. In a space that is growing exponentially with lots of compelling options, this is no small feat.

It combines great security, with great integration and management. It works well on iPhones and Androids, and can be bundled to include a host of other complementary solutions like Skype for Business. Office 365 is the most popular cloud app for a reason, it is the most robust and full featured solution out there.

SharePoint Online: SharePoint is the often maligned business solution that allows customers to custom develop file sharing and workflow solutions that are presented through a webpage. It got a bad rap, in our opinion, because it is complex and misunderstood. SharePoint Online puts all the resources in the cloud and makes the development of custom solutions easier than ever.

If you didn’t already have a file server or need a file server, this could be your file server in the cloud. We use it as a custom app development platform for our clients. The possibilities with SharePoint are endless, almost like being able to design your very own Software as a Service application for your business. You will see a lot more of SharePoint in the future.

Azure AD: This is not directly tied to Office 365, but is instead part of the Azure infrastructure that happens to complement Office 365 very nicely. Azure AD is a solution that allows you to tie authentication to numerous apps. This means that you can have a single password, that verifies who you are, then opens up every application you need for work. Office 365, your server files, QuickBooks Online, SalesForce, Twitter, you name it. In reverse, you can eliminate access to all of these solutions simultaneously when a user quits.

E5: The next level for Office 365, recently released and still in its infancy, is their VOIP phone solution, named E5 (sexy, huh?). If you have heard of Ring Central or Vonage Business or 8×8, this is a solution just like that but built with Enterprise grade features and hosted on the most robust infrastructure platform in the market (Azure). It is a complete phone system, ready to work with hundreds of different handset models, and it only costs $15/month. It is still a little early to begin dumping your trusty old phone providers, but it is part of why Office 365 will (eventually if not sooner) revolutionize your business.

From business security to functionality, 365 is a great solution. But it’s more about what comes next that makes it so compelling. Microsoft has been hooking together their products and adding bundled features to Office 365 since its inception. Now they have tied everything back together with Azure. We tell many of our customers that they own the last server they will ever buy, and Office 365 is the on-ramp for them. In the past, Managed IT Service Providers diversified their product offerings to clients to compensate for the shortcomings of Microsoft’s software solutions. With the advent of Azure and Office 365, we are finding it more and more compelling to move everything to Microsoft for our clients.