Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based office productivity suite and is one product that is being leveraged by SMBs today to reduce costs, streamline operations, and bolster collaborative efforts among employees. Many SMBs are fearful of the cloud, but the term itself is basically industry jargon for off-site file hosting.
Microsoft Office 365 brings the familiar Office desktop suite into the cloud creating web-based versions of widely used Microsoft software like Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint. Everything from documents, spreadsheets, slideshows, emails, websites, conferencing tools, and storage space reside off-premises in the cloud rather than on an employee’s hard drive or an on-site server. This allows for anytime/anywhere remote access, easier filing sharing, and more collaborative approaches to editing.
The History of Office 365
Prior to Office 365’s introduction, many businesses were migrating to the cloud-based Google Apps for Business. Microsoft was starting to be perceived as the old stalwart when it came to business email and communications software. Meanwhile, Google was garnering a reputation as the young upstart in the industry.
Since Google was fully utilizing the cloud, small businesses and organizations were turning to Google Apps for Business to eliminate the need for an on-site server and to facilitate communications and sharing among an increasingly dispersed workforce in the BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) era.
This meant that many businesses were bypassing the expensive licenses of the Office desktop suite for the more mobile and affordable Google Apps for Business. “Send us a Word attachment” suddenly became “Put that in a Google Doc and share it with us on the Google Drive.”
Rather than lose a share of their marketplace to a competitor, Microsoft opted to introduce a cloud-based suite of their own targeting enterprise customers, small businesses, non-profits and the education market, all of whom were being priced out of the desktop Office 2013 suite.
After several missteps, Office 365 was introduced with four key components that make up Office 365’s cloud-based services: Microsoft Office Web Apps, Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Sharepoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online.
Despite the old adage of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Microsoft versions have been around for quite some time and are much more refined than Google’s offerings. For instance, while many appreciate the simplicity of Gmail for personal use, a much larger percentage of workers are likely to be more familiar with Outlook for business email.
When it comes to note taking, OneNote has advanced capabilities and better integration with other programs than Google Keep. Anyone who has ever used Google Docs has likely experienced formatting nuisances and understands that the software’s format and layout options aren’t always intuitive.
Five Simple Reason SMBs Are Choosing Office 365
- Ensured Privacy and Better Security
Whenever cloud migration is suggested, security is one of the first subjects to come up, as many SMBs fear their data is less secure in the cloud. However, only a very small number of security breaches have been linked to data stored in the cloud. In fact, the cloud offers SMBs a level of consistently updated security that many otherwise can’t afford. Here are a few ways Office 365 keeps your business information private and secure:
- Not only does the data reside in a well-secured state-of-the-art data center, but data encryption and frequently updated antivirus and spam protection also offer greater protection.
2. Work from Anywhere at Anytime
Although Google has enhanced its capabilities offline, there are still limitations to its offline app. Meanwhile, Office 365 allows users to access documents, spreadsheets, Outlook, etc. from virtually any device with a Wi-Fi connection and a web browser. Office 365 offers a consistent experience across online and offline platforms regardless of the device used.
3. Ease of Use Both Online and Offline
Effective Integrated Solutions Office 365 users can get started immediately with a minimal learning curve because Microsoft’s products are widely recognized and have been used in workplaces and homes for decades. The same tailored experience is applied across all platforms – mobile, online and desktop applications. Anyone that has already used Microsoft Outlook and desktop Office has an instant familiarity with the products that should help them smoothly transition to the cloud.
4. Uniform Look Regardless of Device
Have you ever opened a Word document in Google Apps only to see disheveled formatting or a missing table of contents, headers, footers, watermarks, page numbers and tables? It’s pretty common. Office 365 preserves formatting whether documents are edited using a desktop version of Microsoft Office or a mobile device in the cloud. This gives you the confidence of knowing that the documents you’re sending to customers, clients, or prospects look just the way you intended.
5. Flexible Solutions
Office 365 offers a hybrid environment allowing you to easily do business both in and outside of the cloud. If certain parts of your business operations aren’t necessarily “cloud-ready”, they can stay out of it. Users of Google Apps can’t experience this kind of hybrid deployment. Additionally, Google also has very limited management and administrative capabilities in comparison to Office 365. With Office 365, you will know exactly who has access to your data and control their conditions and privileges.
Office 365 offers a tried-and-true business standard in a new technology environment. Although it may seem to be priced slightly higher than Google Apps, the enhanced security, superior MS Office software, and better flexibility actually make it a more cost-efficient solution for SMBs. Since Office 365 allows for a hybrid deployment of both cloud and on-premise servicers, Office 365 also allows SMBs to gradually move to the cloud with less anxiety.
For even more support transitioning to an Office 365 environment, call us today so we can help minimize the administrative burden of Office 365, giving you a greater ROI on your Microsoft investment.