Microsoft Office has long been the backbone of many businesses, helping them to plan, pitch and calculate their way to success. Its latest iteration is the Cloud-based Microsoft 365 – and if you aren’t using it, you’re missing out on a whole host of developments.
Microsoft 365 has many of the familiar trappings of the old Office suite, but comes with new benefits, new software and fresh opportunities. Here’s a quick look at everything Microsoft 365 has to offer – and how using it to its full potential could help to transform your business.
What is Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 is the new name for what used to be called Office 365. The name change is due to the expansion of 365 beyond Office applications such as Word or Excel. This includes business-oriented software such as Lists and Forms, as well as apps such as Teams and OneDrive, which play such a crucial role in the new world of remote working.
While the main connotation of 365 is obvious – owing to its role in daily life – it’s also a way to set the new Office suite apart from the old one. Where Office was previously static software that you installed on a computer and updated periodically, Microsoft 365 is now a Cloud based platform, where the software is hosted online.
What this means in practice is that all Microsoft 365 apps can now be accessed from your browser, without having to install them (although this is still an option for business customers). Files can also be saved to the Cloud and worked on in real time, allowing you to access and collaborate on documents from any location or device.
In many ways, Microsoft 365 is an ideal introduction to the power of the Cloud. Moving from an older version of Office to Microsoft 365 allows you to retain the familiarity and functionality of the software, while also gaining access to a range of new productivity tools. This makes it ideal for transitioning from office work to remote work, or maintaining a hybrid of the two.
What are the benefits of Microsoft 365?
The most obvious benefit of Microsoft 365 is in the transition to cloud computing. Instead of needing to install the software on every computer, all of the 365 apps can be accessed online across devices. As files are constantly being saved and uploaded to remote servers, this eliminates the risk of files being lost due to hardware or power failures, or being stranded on a machine that otherwise can’t be accessed.
Whether you are using the software in a browser, as a mobile app or as a traditional piece of computer software, you’ll benefit from constant software updates and shared storage space. Admin tools allow you to manage access to these files, giving certain users permission to view and edit files, and enabling different parts of your organisation to work on files together.
More specifically, the software in the Microsoft 365 suite provides a whole host of opportunities, with tools to improve productivity in almost every area. Teams allows you to communicate and schedule tasks remotely, Outlook allows you to access your emails and calendar from any location, and Word and Excel allow you to produce and share professional documents and spreadsheets.
Transforming your business with Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 is an ideal way to upgrade from previous versions of Microsoft Office, and to work more effectively across multiple locations. However, seeing Microsoft 365 as just a more modern implementation of Microsoft Office is understating how much it adds, and what a transformative effect switching to Microsoft 365 could have on your business.
Be more organised
Organising files can be a complicated business. Documents often get worked on by one person, then emailed around. This often leads to a scenario where there are multiple copies of a file out in the ether, with no obvious sign as to which is the most up-to-date. Files can also easily get stuck on one person’s computer if they are away for any reason, or lost to a software or hardware error, making it difficult or impossible to retrieve them. All of this costs time and ultimately money, and can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
By using Microsoft 365, you can ensure the integrity of your files, and benefit from a clear version history. Instead of multiple copies of a file being passed around, cloud storage allows multiple users to work on the same file, logging which changes have been carried out by who. This way you can easily access your files whenever you need them, see what has changed, and even revert back to a previous version if required – all of which should save a significant amount of time.
Work together, wherever
Cloud storage opens up a range of possibilities, making your business more flexible and more agile. While it’s possible that your employees can remotely access files on their workstations, or on a local network, these files are still vulnerable to be overwritten or lost. Different versions are also easily confused, leading people to work on the same files in isolation from one another, wasting time and forcing messy mergers later on.
Microsoft 365 enables multiple users to work on a single file simultaneously, and see the changes others are making in real time. Users can make changes and leave notes for others to see, make suggestions, and save without fear of overwriting someone else’s work. With seamless Teams integration, users can also share files in public or private channels, and talk to each other over audio or video calls as they work. This synergy between Office software and the communication tools within Microsoft 365 is an ideal way to embrace home working, or to improve your remote working setup if you are experiencing productivity issues.
Secure your files
Microsoft 365 doesn’t just help your employees to find and collaborate on files – it also prevents the wrong people from doing the same. 365 allows you to set up different tiers of file protection for different projects, ranging from baseline access to sensitive and highly sensitive data. By making files only accessible to certain accounts – and keeping them entirely within the Office ecosystem – you can prevent accidental leaks from emails, and protect against malicious access.
The admin and user controls provide substantial depth while also remaining simple to use. External sharing controls allow for individual files and folders to be shared with approved individuals, including limited guest access to folders and teams. Elsewhere, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 provides a comprehensive scanning solution, ensuring that all files, attachments and links in OneDrive, Teams, Outlook and more are safe to access. Document encryption meanwhile provides the utmost protection for highly sensitive materials, ensuring that they cannot be accessed outside of the confines of the software environment.
Microsoft 365 is both so big and so ubiquitous that it often blends into the background. Its role in most of our daily lives means we can often take it for granted, failing to make the most of its unique features and all the software it has to offer. By taking the time to explore the full software package and reassess your use of Microsoft 365, you could unlock hitherto dormant benefits – making your business even more productive.
Sota is one of the UK’s leading independent IT companies, providing professional IT support in Kent, cloud computing, cyber resilience, connectivity, and unified communications. Having worked with countless businesses over the years, they are experts in their field, ready to advise and offer tailored solutions for each and every company.