11 September 2019

Microsoft 365 and the Modern Workplace

Microsoft 365 is Microsoft’s complete solution for Business and Enterprise. But how does it work to support the modern workplace? Read our review to see if it suits your organisation.

The Modern Workplace
Modern work patterns are changing how people work and what they expect from an IT system. Work is no longer a place – it’s an activity – and we must set up our IT systems to support secure communication and collaboration from almost anywhere with an internet connection.

The traditional IT environment with on-premises servers and local applications is not well suited for this type of remote collaboration or access. Advanced security features can also be expensive to add to in-house solutions.

To address this modern reality, Microsoft 365 provides a suite of cloud applications to improve productivity, simplify communication, and protect company data.

Microsoft 365 began in 2017 as a licensing bundle for enterprise customers – a combination of Windows, Office, and Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS). The bundle has come a long way since then. Today, Office 365 subscriptions for small and medium-sized businesses, including Office 365 ProPlus, have been renamed to fit in with the Microsoft 365 brand. Together, they form an integrated set of apps and services that puts artificial intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge innovations to work for you.

A variety of Microsoft 365 versions are available for both Business and Enterprise.

Microsoft 365 is not for everyone. However, for organisations looking for a more efficient, flexible, and secure environment, here are five reasons you should consider Microsoft 365.

1. Collaboration – work faster and more remotely

Collaboration using legacy IT systems is often difficult and expensive, especially for businesses with geographically spread staff. Terminal servers or VPNs can help provide secure remote access to shared data, but they do not offer a collaborative workspace. Employees can struggle to work on shared content, with multiple versions of documents creating confusion and delays.

Microsoft 365 provides a highly scalable collaborative environment. Using SharePoint, Planner, and Teams, staff can work on documents concurrently and provide feedback on projects in real-time. OneDrive allows staff to share documents securely, even with third parties. Your teams can access these applications via a web browser or directly from their desktop Microsoft 365 applications.

2. Communication – working better together

IT systems have traditionally included an email server with a separate telephone system. Microsoft 365 replaces a siloed approach with centralised communication tools such as Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams allows staff to communicate using instant messaging, video calls, voice calls, and virtual meetings. Staff can share documents and display their screen with meeting participants, customise backgrounds, schedule sessions, and record meetings.

Presence is built into Microsoft 365 applications, allowing staff to see if someone is available or offline. The Microsoft 365 applications automatically detect if a person is in a meeting, presenting, available, or away from their desk. Instead of waiting for an email or call, staff can see if someone is online and send a quick message.

Learn more about phone calls with Microsoft Teams

Perhaps most valuable is the capacity to share and store documents with team chats. Any files you upload to a Teams channel are stored in a SharePoint folder and are accessible to anyone in that channel. For individual or group chats, shared files are stored in OneDrive and are only accessible to the people in that conversation.

3. Data Security – providing peace of mind

Security and protection of company data is a growing concern. Challenges include:

  • External threats to information and resources.
  • New data protection laws.
  • Staff accessing internal networks from different locations using their own devices.

Given the increasing need for cybersecurity, Australian businesses are turning to automated security solutions to help align internal operations with well-known informational security frameworks such as the ACSC’s Essential Eight.

With Microsoft 365, the traditional domain controller is replaced with Azure Active Directory. This cloud service provides advanced security features such as conditional access, single sign-on, advanced auditioning and reporting, and multi-factor authentication.

Microsoft 365 includes InTune for Business Premium and Enterprise subscriptions to manage workstations, create policies and control what staff can do on company devices. InTune can reduce data leakage by containing data within protected areas. Examples include stopping users from copying and pasting data between web applications or downloading files to untrusted devices. Devices can be encrypted, with data and emails able to be remotely wiped if the device is lost or stolen.

4. Integration – connecting systems more easily

Perhaps the most compelling outcome of these connective integrations is the opportunity for innovative ecosystems that streamline reporting, offering deep business insights backed by real-time visualisations of business information. This connectivity saves time and resources otherwise spent needlessly on information gathering while also enabling faster decision-making.

Organisations can easily integrate their infrastructure with other cloud applications within the same ecosystem by moving to a cloud-based system. Cloud applications use APIs to exchange data without complex data mapping and middleware.

You can integrate the Microsoft 365 suite with many applications, including CRM, document management and accounting packages. Seamless integration reduces errors, provides faster access to data where it’s needed and helps drive digital transformation.

5. Cost and scalability – no more infrastructure upgrades!

Traditional IT systems are expensive and not easy to scale. Ongoing investment in hardware and infrastructure is usually required every 3-5 years. Yes, migrating to the cloud involves a one-time investment. However, it removes the need to upgrade whenever the server infrastructure needs to be refreshed.

Microsoft Azure is made up of hundreds of data centres around the world. Their global reach means lower latency for many locations, and their distribution helps ensure resiliency in case of locational failure. Managed directly by Microsoft, these datacentres also remove the need for ongoing in-house server maintenance – with all the hardware upgrades taken care of. What’s more, pricing plans can include “pay-as-you-go” models, which allow you to grow capacity on demand and control usage costs when demand is low.

In the cloud, Microsoft 365 allows organisations to “turn on” what they need on a per-user, per month basis. This monthly cost includes the back-end platform, storage, desktop Microsoft 365 programs, and the Windows OS. The result? Your teams have access to top-tier cloud infrastructure that’s always up to date – without having to buy software upgrades ever again.

Does Microsoft 365 fit your modern workplace?

Many organisations can live the modern workplace with Microsoft 365, enjoying increased productivity and security with reduced IT costs.

  • If your IT infrastructure is due for replacement, it’s an ideal time to consider Microsoft 365 instead of new hardware.
  • If your staff needs to work more collaboratively, you can introduce the Microsoft 365 suite as required.
  • If you’re searching for a cloud-based alternative to managing on-prem hardware, Microsoft Azure offers virtually limitless opportunities.
  • If you’re looking for better ways to manage documentation accessibility and secure file storage, then SharePoint can help improve collaboration and innovation.

There are many reasons to investigate the Microsoft 365 solution platform. And while the solutions might not fit every business, they are flexible enough to help improve almost any IT environment.

First Focus has successfully helped migrate clients across the country from old, server-based environments to modern workplaces powered by Microsoft 365. And as a Microsoft Partner, we’re well placed to help you understand if Microsoft 365 is the right choice for you.

If you’d like to know more, get in touch today, and our specialist Microsoft technicians can help guide you through the process.

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