Microsoft is the essential business productivity suite. There’s no getting around it. If you want to create files to share with the world, it better be in a Microsoft format. Unless you like to spend time on the phone, explaining what program you used and where to download it. Everyone in the business world knows Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If not, a quick web search allows a user to quickly grow from beginner to intermediate without many headaches, thanks to the masses using online forums and tutorials to grow their skills.

Office has always had its drawbacks. The full purchase price usually begins around $150 for each user. That’s one installed software suite on one system. The suite version that most businesses required was typically double that amount, to get advantages of Outlook, Access, or Publisher. The drawback to the higher cost means that companies often wait to upgrade the Office versions, usually only getting new versions when packing the new software into the purchase of new desktop. Since most small companies only replace a few computers at a time, that usually meant there were various versions of Office floating around. Not a huge deal most of the time, unless one person has a really older version of Office, say 2003 (12 years old now) versus someone with 2007 and above. Sure the versions can open each other’s documents, once you downloaded and installed the compatibility pack. That brings up another issue with this style of software purchases; support becomes more time consuming and costlier.

So how does Microsoft Office 365 change the game?

Productivity

Let’s start with greater productivity. Productivity is a word that management-consultant types love to use, often to a point that it generates more eye rolling than discussion. In the real world, productivity can be boiled down to one question: Can you do the job easier or not? Microsoft has spent a tremendous amount of time to make the user and administrator experiences of Office 365, easy and simple as possible.

The idea here is simplicity yields greater productivity. This could be a User simply creating a new document, or an administrator setting up a new employee. Technology gets out of the way, so you can focus on the job.

Mobility

For years now, mobility has been a crown jewel for businesses. With software over the internet, all your employees need is a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone – and an internet connection. Office 365 is actually ran from Microsoft’s data centers, accessing Microsoft Word is simple as connecting to the Coffee Shop Wi-Fi.

Also built into the 365 suite, at the business level, is Sharepoint Online. This allows for businesses to centrally locate data for easy access, from anywhere. Whether you are in the office, or on the beach in Florida, as long as you have an internet connection. This allows for documents to always stay up-to-date. Say goodbye to emailing documents back and forth between employees. No more clunky VPN software that doesn’t like to work when in cheap hotels, or when internet speed isn’t the best.

How about the ability to collaborate on a document in real time? Not a problem, the only thing you need is a web browser. Need to make sure no one else changes a document while you’re working on it? Also easily done with Sharepoint controlling versions and allowing you to “check out” a document, so no one else can edit.

File security can be as strict or as lenient as desired. Much like a business file server, documents can be locked down to a single person, group, or left open for the entire company. Which brings me to my next point

Security and IT Relief

Microsoft has taken on the responsibility for security and reliability, allowing your IT staff to worry about more critical items, such as helping users get the most out of enterprise software.   Microsoft has also gone out of its way to create an unprecedented level of control for administrators that in the past, has been near impossible when it comes to Microsoft Office. Not only does 365 give administrators control over the environment, it also actually designed it to be simple and intuitive. Security, Compliance and privacy are built into Office 365 to help ensure that company data is always protected and to make sure that compliance standards, such as HIPAA and FISMA are always met.

Cost and Maintenance

Even in today’s ever improving economy, many companies have a hard time seeing the benefit of paying for upgrades of Microsoft office. With Office 365 being a low cost, monthly subscription per User, it doesn’t make sense not to upgrade. With the subscription comes the ability to upgrade your software, anytime Microsoft releases a new version without any extra costs. This will also help with security, ensuring the latest security updates and patches are available to every machine in your organization.

Are you like every other person living in the 21st century and have multiple devices? Computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones? With Office 365 Business suite and up, you have the ability to install Office 365 on up to 5 different devices with the same account!

Does your company still have an Exchange server on premise? When does the warranty expire? How much will a new server cost? What will be the labor cost to migrate to a new server? What happens when the power goes down in your building? Or the local cable company accidently cuts your TELCO internet connection? The On-Premise server is going the way of the Typewriter, functional but not needed. All of Office 365 runs on Microsoft’s latest platform technologies. With your business subscription, you get access to Exchange Online without the overhead cost and worry of deploying it in-house. Multi-billion dollar companies are seeing the cost savings factor with switching to Exchange Online for their thousands of employees, without missing any benefits of an On-Premise server.

You also can have access to other online services from Microsoft with your monthly subscription. We’ve mentioned Office applications, Exchange Online, and Sharepoint Online, but how about real time communications, i.e. Instant Messenger. Lync Online is Microsoft’s Enterprise Instant Messenger with the ability for audio and video calling between PC’s, web conferencing and presence.

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