Office 365 - Feature Overview

Office 365: Feature Overview

Hi. My name is Rick Rietz; I'm Director of Consulting Services at DMC. Today I'd like to introduce you to some of the features of Office 365 in a little bit more detail. Hopefully you watched my previous video introducing you to Office 365 and the Cloud. This is going to take a deeper dive into some of the features of Office 365.

First of all, why would anybody consider upgrading to what's known as 'The New Office - Office 365’?  First off, if you have an old server, maybe a server that's 4 or more years old, that's probably one that's due for replacement. Office 365 is a great way to replace that server in a cost-efficient way. Also, perhaps you're growing; you've added additional employees and you need a new server within your IT infrastructure to take on the extra capacity. That's another situation that's great for Office 365. Perhaps you've adopted too many different technologies and those technologies aren't working well together; Office 365 is a great way to address that. Everything contained within the Office 365 platform was designed to work together, so it works together really, really well. 

Finally, you might be using the old Office, maybe as far back as Office 2003. Perhaps your desktops are all running Windows XP. As many of you have probably heard, both of those go out of service next year. They reach their end-of-life on April 8th, 2014.  If you are faced with that situation, I think Office 365 is a very cost-efficient way to setup a new blueprint to establish your new infrastructure moving forward.

What's included in Office365?  First off, you have the Office Desktop Suite that you're all familiar with: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, among others. These are the full versions of the client applications. They'll run on your PC just like they always have, but Microsoft has now introduced the ability to run those applications inside of a browser, so you can run it on a variety of different devices. They also will allow you to install it on up to 5 different devices; they can be at home, at work, or on a mobile device. Really, it's a fantastic value.

Secondly, you have the SharePoint Online features. SharePoint is commonly used to share documents, to create an intranet to facilitate corporate communication, and to collaborate on projects. You can also create workflows to improve the efficiency of different activities that your business performs. You can also implement dashboards, so you can measure the health of how your business is doing based on key performance indicators.

There's also Exchange Online: that's email. Email doesn't have to change. If you're using Outlook today, you'll be able to use Outlook in the future. It's just the backend that has changed, and you're basically going to move that server off of your on premise infrastructure into the Office 365 Cloud that's managed by Microsoft. 

Finally, we have Lync Online. Lync Online is something not that many people are familiar with, but it provides you with the ability to instantly start virtual meetings. You can instant message, you could share desktops, meet via video conferencing, or just use audio to communicate; it’s your choice.  Lync provides an instant way in which you can collaborate with other people on your team.

Just recently, Microsoft added Microsoft CRM Online to the Office 365 platform. If you need to track sales, track contacts, and then track all your interactions, opportunities, and how your salespeople are doing and interacting with people, CRM Online is a great solution. As I mentioned before, with Office 365 you will be able to access your documents pretty much from anywhere on just about any device. It could be a Mac or a PC, it could be a tablet, it could even be a mobile smartphone. With SharePoint and an Internet connection, you'll be able to get to your documents from anywhere, anytime.

You can download Office anywhere, anytime. Let's say you're at your parents' house and they don't have the latest, greatest version of Office. You can actually stream Office to that PC. It happens in just a couple minutes, and you'll be up and running. When you're finished, you can close down the Office application that you're working with and no trace of the documents you've been working on will be left behind.  If you're at a hotel and you need to use their temporary computer, you can stream Office to that computer, as well.

As I mentioned, the Office suite is also available via a browser. Basically, you can fire up Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari, and you can run Word, Excel, and PowerPoint inside the browser.  Every quarter, Microsoft is releasing new features for the Office Web Apps. These web apps are now coming pretty close to on par with the full desktop suite. Look for that to continue in the future. 

In addition to the Office Web Apps, we have the Lync suite. Lync, again, is what you'll use to do instant messaging, desktop sharing, video conferencing, audio conferencing. All these features are available, really, with just a click of a button. You select the person that you'd like to have your meeting with and you can instantly start collaborating with them.

A new feature that's an Office 365 exclusive is the ability to be able to share documents instantly with people outside your organization. If you're working with various partners or vendors, with one click, you can hit the Share button, and you'll instantly be able to send them a quick email. It will include a link so they can access the document that you'd like them to access.  This feature is just like DropBox, but it’s fully integrated into SharePoint Online.  A lot of organizations will find this feature to be a tremendous benefit.

Microsoft has also introduced some social features into the SharePoint Online experience. Think of it like Facebook for the enterprise. You can keep tabs on what other people are doing, you can start various communities, have people join, discuss topics, stay abreast of comments people are making on different topics, documents they've posted, comments they've made - all those types of things.  These social media features are brought inside your organization’s private four walls through the Office 365 social features. 

In addition to the social features, project management has really been built up into a full enterprise-class system. You'll be able to more easily manage your teams. There are now team site mailboxes, so you can very easily just forward an email to your team site mailbox and everybody on your team who has permissions will be able to view those emails. You can setup alerts as well, so when new information is posted, people can be notified that new information has been posted to your team site. In addition, they've introduced the timeline view. This makes it a lot easier for people to visualize exactly what tasks are due at what time. I think a lot of people find that to be a big benefit.

Office 365 also has anti-malware, anti-spam. A lot of the things you're usually paying extra to maintain in your own environment, Office 365 includes at no extra charge. In addition, the Office 365 suite has introduced some mobile security measures as well. You can force people to have PINs on their smartphones in order to access their email. You can force strong passwords. In addition, if somebody loses their smartphone, you can actually wipe the email data remotely from a central admin console.

With Office 365 you can run the Office 2013 suit on your desktop alongside Office 2010. If you've invested heavily in maybe some custom macros or some crazy Excel spreadsheet macros, you don't have to rewrite the macros in order to port it to Excel 2013; you can just continue to run Office 2010 alongside of Office 2013.

Office 365 includes valuable business continuity features. All the data that you store within the Office 365 Cloud is replicated on another geographically-redundant server. In case the Cloud system that you're directly saving data to goes down for some reason, like a natural disaster, that data is replicated to another datacenter in another part of the country.  This backup process is typically more robust than most organizations have in place today.

If you're interested in learning more about Office 365, please contact DMC. We're a Microsoft Gold partner, very familiar with Office365, Azure, SharePoint, Microsoft CRM, as well as custom application development and system integration using the .NET platform.  We welcome a chance to work with you and your organization. Thanks.

Rick Rietz, Director of Consulting Services, DMC, Inc. 2222 N. Elston Ave., Suite 200 Chicago, IL 60614 (312) 255-8757