Office 365 For Dummies
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Here are ten value propositions for Office 365. In particular, you explore some of the value that results from freeing up your technical folks and letting them focus on solving real-world business problems by using technology instead of keeping the lights blinking green.

You also explore some of the productivity gains that come with moving to the cloud, such as the ability to connect anywhere you have Internet connectivity and the value added by using an integrated suite of products.

Offloaded Responsibility

The cloud is changing the paradigm behind enterprise class software by offloading the responsibility for the infrastructure to someone else. In the case of Office 365, that someone else is none other than Microsoft. Microsoft has invested heavily in building out data centers, installing computers, operating systems, backup systems, and maintenance plans. Microsoft takes care of it all.

When you use Office 365, you simply sign up and start using the products over the Internet. The result is that you don't have to worry about the heavy lifting. You are free to focus on using the software instead of worrying about keeping the software running.

Reduced Infrastructure

The costs involved in purchasing, managing, and maintaining the infrastructure involved for enterprise class software can be downright daunting. When you move to Office 365, you are removing the need for onsite infrastructure. That is all taken care of by Microsoft. Without the need for all the servers and software required to run the software, you can focus on the more important issues affecting your business.

In a nutshell, you are removing the burden of having on-site infrastructure but still achieve the competitive advantage that comes with using software, such as SharePoint, Skype for Business, Office, and Exchange.

Flexible and Predictable Costs

With Office 365, Microsoft has already undertaken all the risky implementation projects that come along with enterprise software. That is not to say that Microsoft teams did not come in over budget or that Microsoft did not spend three or four times what they thought it would take to get Office 365 up and running. But that doesn't matter to you.

You know exactly how much Office 365 will cost you, and you won't have to worry about overruns. Microsoft won't tell you that it is actually going to cost four times more per month because the software is complicated. In fact, Microsoft has a service guarantee so that if the software is not up and running per the agreement, then they are on the hook for it.

To raise the value proposition even further, you can add and remove licensing as you need it. Office 365 provides this ability to scale up or down your licensing, and costs, depending on your organization's situation.

Reduced Complexity

Office 365 isn't just the SharePoint product. The Office 365 product includes Exchange, Skype for Business, Office, and SharePoint, plus such newcomers as Power BI and Sway. There are probably a few souls out there who are absolute experts on all these technologies, but the fact is that, to maintain such enterprise software, you need a fairly significant team.

Microsoft has made managing software systems easier by introducing products, such as Small Business Server, but the fact is that managing software is still a complicated endeavor. With Office 365, you remove that complexity by using a simple web interface to manage the various products.

Microsoft engineers perform all the difficult responsibilities that go into keeping the lights blinking green on the servers. You just use the software in a way that best suits your business needs.

Anywhere Access

Office 365 lives in Microsoft's data centers and is accessed over the Internet. For this reason, you have connectivity to your enterprise software by using your desktop computer in your office, your laptop, or your mobile phone. In addition, all you need is an Internet connection rather than a special connection to your corporate network.

Having access to the software you use every day from anywhere provides a tremendous value and efficiency increase. When you have access, you can take advantage of unintended downtime. You will no longer feel that nagging urge that you need to get back to your desk to get work done. Because Microsoft has embraced multiple operating systems, you can find your Office 365 apps on your iPhone, iPad, and Android device, in addition to Windows.

Synchronized Data

With Office 365 and SharePoint Online, you have a centralized home for all documents. You can access those documents from multiple computers (or even your mobile phone) and by multiple people. Regardless of how many people or devices are accessing the document, only a single version of the document exists on SharePoint. Because SharePoint is in the cloud and accessed over the Internet, you only need an Internet connection or cell reception in order to access your enterprise data.

In addition to documents, Office 365 lets you synchronize all your email, calendar, and contacts onto multiple devices. If you use Outlook at home, at the office, on your phone, and on your tablet, you don't have to worry about being on the wrong device when trying to find a contact at work. You don't have to worry about missing an appointment because all the devices you use synchronize with Exchange Online.

You don't have to worry about forgetting a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document, because it is on your phone or tablet and can be opened with Office. The result is that your appointments, email, contacts, and documents live in the cloud and are synchronized with all of your devices.

You can sync nearly any smartphone and any email app with Exchange Online as well so that you are never far from your appointments, contacts, and email. This feature is one of the most valuable. Not to mention that Outlook is available for all types of devices now including iPhones and Androids.

Integrated Software

The Office 365 product is actually a suite of products that is hosted in the Microsoft data centers and accessed over the Internet. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to integrate the software as seamlessly as possible, which results in an increase in efficiency for users.

Office 365 even integrates with your phone system so you can even call the author directly from the SharePoint environment. The integration between SharePoint, Exchange, Skype for Business, and Office makes performing daily tasks as easy as possible. The end result is that the technology gets out of the way and lets you and those you work with do your jobs without fighting with technology.

Mobile Access to Enterprise Data

With Office 365, you can finally access your data from anywhere by using your smartphone. Microsoft is taking anywhere access a step farther by building Office apps for Apple and Android devices that extend Office 365.

Now, for the first time, you can click a button on your phone and instantly browse your enterprise data in SharePoint, respond to corporate email, see your calendars, book appointments, and pretty much do almost everything you would do at your desk. Only now you can do it from anywhere you have cellphone reception and on almost any type of smartphone.

You don't need a Windows Phone in order to integrate with Office 365. Windows Phone provides the richest integration, but you can integrate with your enterprise email, calendar, contacts, and Office files from just about any smartphone device.

Increased IT Efficiency

Routine tasks have a way of creating snags that take hours or days to resolve. A small technical glitch has a way of cascading into an all-out war between the IT team and the software demons. What ends up happening is that the tech people spend all their time down in the weeds keeping the lights blinking green. The business folks become frustrated because they are not receiving the support they deserve, so the whole business and the culture suffer.

When you move to the cloud, you free up your IT resources to focus on working with your business users to solve problems that benefit the organization. Your business users receive the support they need, and the IT people receive the recognition they deserve.

Self-Service Enterprise Software

The most exciting aspect of Office 365 for many organizations is the inclusion of SharePoint Online in the mix. SharePoint provides a self-serve portal environment that can be developed to solve real-world business problems. The main premise behind SharePoint development is that you do not have to be a programmer to develop solutions on the SharePoint platform.

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