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Office 365: The giant that needs a sense of direction

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based, 24/7, ready-to-use platform with a multitude of features. Because there are so many different ways of doing things, even staying on top of updates can be a full time job, let alone implementing them and training users.

For communication alone you have email, Skype, Yammer, Teams, Groups, the list goes on. It can be overwhelming for users and even for IT professionals to know what to use when and as a result, many CIOs and CTOs are not confident to turn on a lot of the features in Office 365.

I see a lot of organisations not advancing much further than migrating email accounts to Exchange Online, even if they have licenses that offer more. While holding back is probably a better decision than just releasing everything, organisations are failing to realise the benefits that can have a significant impact on their productivity and competitiveness.

Microsoft manage Office 365, release regular enhancements and invest millions in the security of their products. Why not take advantage of the services you already pay for? If you do not provide people with the tools they need to do their work, they will find their own tools with all the associated risks of shadow IT.

Office 365 can possibly replace some of your current applications and automate outdated manual processes. Organisations can advance by leveraging this platform, even if the change for users is a challenge. Let’s have a show of hands – who wants their old Nokia phone back? In the same way, when you take the right approach with Office 365, your teams will wonder how they managed without it.

A common mistake that organisations make is to look at the Office 365 tools, and then try to figure out what to do with them. A better approach is to look at the organisation’s business needs, and then figure out which tools can assist.

For example, a project director needs to share information with the team or HR has requirements to conduct, review and approve performance reviews. They don’t say, ‘Oh, I want to use Teams,’ or, ‘Let’s try Planner’ – they just need to get their jobs done. End users are busy just trying to work.

They don’t have time to figure out the technology landscape and that’s where IT should be able to provide some solutions and take them on the use case journey. It’s not enough to hand over OneNote or Flow and say ‘good luck’, as most users will not bother to work out how to use it and will stick to Excel and email.

One solution to this problem is an intranet or Digital Workplace – a central location that pulls in information and apps from different parts of Office 365 and helps guide users to the right tools for the job. If you can present Microsoft Office 365 services to people in a straightforward way as part of their workday, it will encourage adoption and homogenise the tools that people use for certain tasks.

Office 365 is the business ecosystem of choice for the world’s most successful companies – 70% of Fortune 500 companies have purchased Office 365 within the last year. Don’t miss out on the productivity gains it offers. Start creating your plan to harness the benefits today.

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