AUTHOR: Allen with the Office 365 Group at Microsoft

Reposting from Microsoft Office 365 Blog

This is the first in series of posts about the value Office 365 provides to larger organizations. What do we mean by "larger"? Basically, if you employ (or will soon need to employ) IT staff to meet your security, reliability, and user productivity needs, we're talking to you. (We have a great story for small businesses too, which we'll cover in another series). In this post, we'll outline some of the key challenges that IT decision makers at larger organizations face, and how Office 365 and our vision of the future of productivity answer those challenges.

Challenges and Pain Points

Top-of-mind for many IT decision makers is security. Maintaining security is expensive and labor-intensive. Viruses, malware, and spam threats are constantly evolving, overcoming the latest defenses. With the explosion in mobile access, attack vectors have vastly multiplied, as have the points at which data can be lost or compromised.

Second on the list of challenges is keeping costs under control while giving employees the tools to be productive and innovative. IT budgets are notoriously spiky. Making any significant upgrades to functionality can result in capital expenditures, which are hard to predict and create a barrier to getting the latest technology.

Of course, having shiny new software doesn't matter if it doesn't make users more productive or, worse, if they just don't adopt it at all. They need technology that "just works." So do IT pros-the solution should, if possible, decrease management complexity so they can get more done with the resources they have. And when they do need support, they don't want to call someone who knows less than they do.

Organizations also need agility. Markets and opportunities change faster than anyone can keep track of. People need to work and collaborate from wherever work takes them. Technology that can change and scale with the needs of the business is essential.

Office 365 is designed to address these pains in line with the Microsoft vision of the future of productivity. It sounds lofty, but it's actually very practical and grounded in what we have learned from customers like you.

Microsoft's Vision

It means delivering the best experience across the PC, browser, and phone, which is something we believe users really want in their daily lives. You want to be able to get to your email and Office documents no matter what device you're using. We want you to be able to work on your documents and when someone touches it in the browser, they don't clobber all of the things that someone did in the rich client. We round-trip the Office documents from the PC, to the phone, to the browser, and back, and nobody else does that.

We've also designed this so that the experience is tailored to the technology. When you're on your mobile phone, you can take photos; we'll automatically drop those photos into your OneNote digital notebook, and that gets synced up over the cloud, and people who are using their PCs and their browsers see those photos. We don't have that capability on the PC. When you're on the browser, you can log in to Outlook Web App and get a familiar, rich Outlook experience that's also fast and intuitive on all the major browsers. So, PC, phone, and browser-the best experience for each one of them.

Another key part of the vision is enabling you to get "the cloud on your terms." That means Microsoft is committed to giving you options. Options make you agile. With certain Enterprise plans, you can use Office 365 in coexistence with on-premises Exchange Server and Lync Server deployments. So, you can keep some users on-premises, or just migrate at your own pace. IT pro support is there 24/7, giving you access to expertise that can help you keep your users happy (and you continue to own the relationship with your users). Enterprise-grade anti-spam and anti-malware protection is built in. You can manage your Office 365 services using a Web console and use Remote PowerShell to get data and reports. In essence, you offload the repetitive, time-consuming, resource-intensive parts of IT while staying in control of the stuff that drives your business.

Finally, Office 365 is built for a world where productivity goes way beyond authoring documents. With one service you get email, online meetings, calendars, presence, real-time collaboration, document management and sharing...the list of features goes on and on. The really exciting thing is that, with Office 365, these capabilities work together the way they were intended to. So, right in Word, you can see if a colleague is available for a coauthoring session.  You can escalate a PC-to-PC voice call to an interactive online meeting. Voicemail transcripts are delivered right in the Outlook inbox. Users don't have to be tech-savvy-these capabilities are available right in Office, so your organization can really get the value of new technology. And, of course, you get the latest features without having to buy or install new software.

In the next few posts in this series, we'll dive deeper into exactly how Office 365 delivers:

  • The best productivity experience across platforms and devices
  • Access anywhere
  • A familiar experience for both users and IT
  • Security and reliability
  • IT control and efficiency

Get Involved 

What do you think? Do you agree? IT professionals, are there any other major challenges you face that you need to solve? How will Office 365 be able to help? Thanks for reading!

-Allen, Office 365 Product Manager