Office 365 for Everyone

I often have conversations with business owners and users alike that indicate they have Office 365 licence, but when it all comes down to it, all they are using it for is Word, Excel and Outlook. 

So what is Office 365 really and what are the tool sets that businesses might be using today?  I recently came across an interesting article which started to take some of the mystery out of this powerful platform, and I would like to share some of the functionality with you. 

Let's take a closer look at exactly what tools Office 365 consists of and where you might take advantage in your organisation.

The Office Suite is the obvious inclusion and one that we are all familiar with.  Put quite simply, the office products allow you to open and edit documents you are working on, and most Office 365 plans include the Office client in their subscription.  Similarly, Outlook is familiar to us all and needs no introduction.   It is an important distinction here to note that Calendar has been split out into its own app now, leaving mail functionality alone in the Outlook app.

Before talking about some of the other applications, I would like to describe a couple of important features of Office 365, namely Graph and Groups, that are key to the very fabric of Office 365.

Office Graph is a framework and platform that provides data based on user identity and user activity. It is not something that a user will access in itself, but rather is a large dataset and framework to makes that data available to other applications.  Delve for example is a part of Office 365 that predicts files and documents that you may be looking for and has been developed using the Graph framework.

Office Groups is a new way of working with colleagues and people outside your network, focusing on collaboration rather than a specific technology.  Groups are displayed much like previous security groups, only are more powerful and connected. Office 365 Groups allows alignment of individuals logically, with the difference being how they integrate with Office 365. As groups are created, Office 365 Products are automatically attributed to groups in a manner that makes most logical sense.

These two features may not be immediately apparent to the everyday user, however let's take a look at some of the more obvious inclusions in the Office 365 suite.  SharePoint in the first instance is the platform that needs little or no introduction to many of Sharing Minds customers as we have been working in this space for fifteen years.  Generally used to build Intranets, Extranets and Collaboration Team Sites, SharePoint includes Workflows and an extensive feature set that makes it ideal for planned Enterprise Content Management deployments.

Designed to function as an electronic version of a paper notebook, Microsoft OneNote is a note-taking and personal information management application for collecting, organizing and sharing digital information.  By storing text notes, photos, audio and video snippets, handwriting and similar content, Microsoft OneNote collects and organizes the information, making it available for searching as well as sharing with others.

Originally called Lync, Skype for Business is an instant messaging and audio/video conferencing tool that allows users to run and organise on-line meetings and share content with up to 10,000 attendees viewing your video feed.  Skype for Business can be used for communications within an organization, between multiple organizations and with external individuals

OneDrive for Business allows users to store, update, share, and sync work files from any device. As part of Office 365, OneDrive for Business enables the ability to collaborate and work on Office documents with others at the same time.  Different from OneDrive, which is intended for personal storage separate from your workplace, OneDrive for Business includes a personal document library for every user to store their files and includes a Sync Offline tool, which allows users to work off-line when no connection is available

Yammer is a private microblogging and collaboration platform for enterprise social networking. Unlike public social media platforms such as Twitter, Yammer only allows members to connect with other members who belong to the same email domain or Office 365 Group. This unique feature provides corporate employees with the ability to communicate collaboratively, using a graphical user interface (GUI) that resembles Facebook.

One of the new comers to the Office 365 family, Delve was developed using Office 365 Power Apps and uses Office Graph to discover and present relevant content to the user.  Its primary purpose is to help users find and discover pertinent information across Microsoft products that are integrated with Delve through Office 365. In addition to traditional search tools, Delve has a "discover" function, which brings potentially relevant information to the attention of users, based on relationships and past activity. 

Another new comer to the Office 365 family is Sway.  The purpose of Sway is to convey concepts quickly, easily and clearly. Unlike PowerPoint, it is primarily for presenting ideas onscreen rather than to an audience. Tutorials, topic introductions and interactive reports are the sort of things to which it lends itself. Sway presentations are backed up to the cloud, and can be easily shared or embedded in websites.

Office 365 Planner provides people a simple and highly visual way to organize teamwork. Planner makes it easy for teams to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, chat about what is being working on, and get updates on progress. Planner might be used to manage a marketing event, brainstorm new product ideas, track a school project, prepare for a customer visit, or just organize teams more effectively.

An easy way to connect data and create interactive dashboards, reports and datasets, Power BI helps business users access and analyse data in user-friendly formats. Power BI is designed to help business gain insights from their data, drawing information from disparate sources such as SQL, SharePoint, or even an Excel file.  Power BI is a hybrid of on-premises and cloud components.

Whilst PowerApps is not specifically part of Office 365, it does plays a major role. PowerApps has been designed to allow business users and developers to create custom native, mobile, and Web apps that can be shared simply across their organizations.  Unlike Office 365 developer tools that are for professional developers wanting to extend Office apps, PowerApps are for non-professional developers and users to create business apps which can connect to Office data

Lastly (for the moment…) Office 365 Video is an intranet website portal where organizations can post and view videos. It's a streaming video service for the organization that's available with SharePoint Online in Office 365, and provides a place to share material such as executive communications, recordings of classes, meetings, presentations and training sessions. 

As you can see, Office 365 is now much more than Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, and going forward I am sure that it will continue to evolve.  I hope that I have provided you with a bit of a taster here as to the function and feature set for this product.  If you are seriously considering how you can take full advantage of your latest purchase, call and talk to one of our sales consultants at Sharing Minds to figure out how we can help you develop a road map for your organisation for the next twelve months.