Many Office users have difficulty working out what Microsoft 365 actually is. Frequently it is equated with the "classic" Office product. The users therefore assume that they simply receive Word, Excel and PowerPoint, etc. "from the cloud". But precisely this aspect comes with new, additional benefits. We explain what they are.
What is the difference?
Although Microsoft 365 does provide the actual Office package, this is merely a fraction of the features on offer. The real benefit is frequently underrated or even overlooked entirely. My personal view is that Microsoft 365 creates an integral and strategic direction within the enterprise. Besides features such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online or Skype for Business Online, Microsoft 365 enables 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 Microsoft 365?
There is a whole range of reasons. Here a few examples:
- A company is keen to focus on its core business that generates revenue. In very few enterprises will this be 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 innumerable 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.
This is just a small selection of standard application cases. A significantly larger number of scenarios is conceivable if one considers the extensive features that Microsoft 365 provides. Resolving the issue of whether Microsoft 365 meets the needs of a company is only possible based on profound knowledge of the available functionalities, possible restrictions, the effort involved, the complexity of integration, and an overview of costs.
Why should companies use Microsoft 365?
This leads us back to the question of why Microsoft 365 should be implemented. It would exceed the scope of this post to provide any kind of definitive answer to this question. You could write an entire book on the topic! So we will pick just one example.
Let’s look at a medium-sized enterprise from the automotive industry. Of course this company will also be reliant on a good IT infrastructure. It follows, therefore, that resources, technology and a budget will be made available in order 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 for these two areas might be as follows:
I need to maintain my systems
- to provide proactive protection against downtime.
- in order to ensure their high-performance operations.
- to protect them against security vulnerabilities.
What about currency?
This does not mean just update 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 Microsoft 365 is starting to make inroads into university life.
So how will this influence our medium-sized enterprise? It’s very simple: Today’s students expect similarly good technical equipment at their workplace as they are used to at home. 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 a software or IT solution are implemented in a company:
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 roll out. This has the following reasons:
- No budget
- No resources
- No management focus
So the software remains in use until the company is compelled to act. This may be prompted by the users, or by a cancellation of support.
New software versions with improved features are released on the market between 2008 and 2014. IT decides to omit these versions. This comes with a number of 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 …