You won't be surprised if I tell you: the Cloud is changing quite quickly. From the very first Microsoft Productivity Suite in the Cloud (known as BPOS) until the new Office 365, the number and quality of the improvements we've added is just amazing. 27th Feb was the date the new Office 365 was available for our business customers, and right now millions of existing users are being upgraded to get the new features. And this will be, in most of the cases, without intervention from the IT departments. Can you imagine the time and effort some upgrades required from IT in the past? The cloud rocks!

But this post is committed to the features the end-user will have on their hands and the enabled scenarios. In our experiences with end-users we see how the improvements we've talked about are changing the way they work, and the impact it creates. It empowers people, it makes the people more efficient and agile,… this is called value realization. Some of the most significant features that falls in this description are:

  • SkyDrive Pro: easy to use, easy to share, forget your hard drive
  • PC extended: work with your documents from all your devices like if you have only one
  • Be social: get the information you want to follow and share knowledge

 

SkyDrive Pro

The companies are experimenting big changes and challenges. Not so much time ago the technology in the enterprise was high end, while at home it was limited. Right now is the opposite. The users have very powerful tools to create content from anywhere, to share it with their friends and families, and to sync with all their devices. In most of the cases these tools are not allowed in the companies for security reasons, and until now there were not an integrated tool in a corporate environment. Yes, until now.

Office 365 provides the new SkyDrive Pro, a personal storage for your corporate documents, where you can easily upload (drag and drop), create and edit (with Office Web Apps or Office client) , share (with internal and external users) and sync (with your multiple PCs). At first the synchronization feature was only included in Office 2013, but just some days ago we announced the availability of the SkyDrive Pro standalone client.

If I had to choose one of the above, I think it would be the ability to share with one click with your internal and external contacts, even allowing to edit the document simultaneously between multiple users. Not more attachments, no more problems.

Forget the hell of saving documents in your hard drive: not accessing from outside of your PC, attaching to mails, different versions of the documents, backup of your documents, not being able to coauthoring with a colleague…

 

PC Extended

We live in a world with multiple devices. What I need is the ability to access my documents from anywhere at any time. You can do it with a web browser, but in Office 2013 (my daily productivity tool) is just awesome.  Once I install Office 2013 in any of my devices (remember that Office 365 Pro Plus allow you to install it in until 5 PCs or Macs per user), or with my Office 2013 RT included in my Windows RT, I'm asked to enter my Office 365 account. Just with it I have access to my Recent Documents, even if I've never opened before in that device. If I open any of these documents, I can see where I left in the last device I was editing or reading it. Do you remember the time you spent in the past going back to the page 76 (if you are lucky enough to remember it) in your large document?

If accessing the document is so fast, you have to see how easy is to share it from your Office.

 

Be Social

'The e-mail will die someday'. Not, it's not my sentence, is the comment that one customer told me the other day. And yes, I'm agree (and many people as well). The youngest people in our companies don't use this 'legacy' tool, they interact with social networks (consumer and professional) to speed up their processes, and they don't understand why the organizations in the XXI century are so slow sending, replying and forwarding mails. Social networks empower you with an easy way to ask for information and to be informed with what you want. You decide it. And if you want to receive e-mail notifications you can configure it as well.

In Office 365 you have right now two different options: SharePoint Online Newsfeeds or Yammer. In both you have the ability to follow the information you need, and to publish and consume information from multiple apps (browser, mobile, desktop,…). It almost has no adoption curve, because once the people use it they see how powerful it is.

 

I could tell you more about other tools I see the people love in Office 365, but this post could be really long. I could write about Communications (Presence, IM, Audio/Video IP, and Online Meetings), Office Web Apps (create and edit documents with a web browser), Office On Demand (one of the most incredible technology and innovation), etc Do you want to know the most important thing? Everything is included in the Office 365 suites.

I encourage you to try it, to experiment it from yourself. I'm pretty sure you'll love it as much as I do.

Diego Gómez

Enterprise Strategy Senior Consultant - Enterprise Services