Office 365: 4 Features you *Will* Care About

Office 365: 4 Features you *Will* Care About

What features and new tricks does Office 365 offer? While there’s a decent amount of articles and sites that point to that sort of information, at Softchoice we’re committed to bringing you the information that matters most to your Microsoft investment.

Following my previous post on why Office 365 is a very worthy followup offering to BPOS, this post is focused on delivering the four features that I feel you will care about more than any other.

1. First, do no harm (aka – don’t screw it up). You get to make an investment decision based on the service itself. The client software used via an office 365 subscription is no different from that used by an on premise Office deployment. They are the same. How you purchase may be different but the bits are the bits. Either way, this is a very common misperception. Our decision about providing a service to our users should not require they settle for alternative or substandard client applications or interfaces. We shouldn’t have to settle (Sorry, I am still just sayin’)

Sacrificing one part of our business for the benefit of another is not a great way to make retain ringing endorsements from the end user community at the office. It may make the company picnic less fun. You better hope they don’t choose sides for paintball. You will take a beating. Wear clothes you don’t like.

2. Nom. Nom. Nom. You already know there are a lot of hidden costs in IT. One that is pretty common is the consumables. An obvious consumable is back-up tapes. We have one customer that justified the move to Office 365 simply on the annual cost of backup tapes! When we think of consumables we also need to think about power and storage costs. And consumable capacity beyond the data center components. What about Consumable time? No backups mean no maintenance window. What is the value of the time your admin can now spend focusing on your users or your Line of Business applications or your data warehouse worth?

Not having to consume our time on backups, maintenance, or server administration is worth more than most realize! There is a popular misconception that SaaS is trying to put hardworking IT folks out of work. I don’t buy it. Every IT shop I’ve visited in recent years bemoans the fact they don’t have the staff necessary to manage the systems they have. SaaS like Office 365 lets us focus IT talent on the services that are uniquely us and outsource services that don’t need our consistent attention.

3. Remove any guesswork from planning & budgeting. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to provide the CFO an annual budget number that wasn’t derived by guesswork? What about being able to provide that for years in the future? That is valuable stuff. With a subscription model, you can accurately predict annual costs to provide communication and collaboration services to our users. That would be handy when planning for your annual budget and P&L.

There’s even more to it. Without the capital spend, you avoid the depreciation problem. Can we get our costs operational so we can free up capital investments for more LOB-focused investments? Use those resources to build a better mousetrap. Or open another store. Or bring another widget to market.

4. Office365 helps you get Zzzz. One thing that often gets missed is the inherent availability of massive SaaS initiatives. If you position services correctly, or leverage the new Azure IaaS for Single Sign On capability, you leverage another great use of the Office 365 productivity stack – business continuity.

As you know, the cost of redundancy is massive. It also breeds more cost. More backups. More testing. More capital. And more hassle. With Office 365, you continue to communicate with customers and colleagues without incurring the capital costs of high availability. Those costs, largely consisting of purchasing everything twice, can be avoided at an operational premium.

What is the value of being able to keep the company moving even though the company data center suffers an unpredictable disaster? Business continuity is a sticky, fear mongering selling tool. Agreed. Unfortunately, it’s a reality. While I do have my doubts about reports indicating companies go out of business within 18 months of an outage or whatever, I would leave you with this: What would happen to your business if you could not communicate for a few days?

Office 365 is ready for your business. Are you ready for it?
If you are starting to feel comfortable your traditional services in the Microsoft productivity space can be provided with feature parity in the Office 365 product, what reservations do you have left?

Sure, you have to consider making some changes to how you offer services. You have to get serious about your upgrade cycle. But now that the features can meet the technology objectives, you need to get serious in evaluating how it will help your organization succeed.

The conversation now needs to move from the server room to the board room. And that discussion will revolve around the transformational topic of how you really want to provide IT services. After all, that’s probably a good conversation to have anyway.

Next time, I’ll take a look at the Single Sign On and migration conversation and explore your options.

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About Tim Mckellips

Tim is the Manager of Solutions Architecture and Microsoft Strategy for Softchoice. Throughout the last 15 years, he has been helping customers choose, design, deploy, and adopt technology in the Microsoft technology stacks.