Understanding Microsoft Office 365: A Brief Tour

Thank you to Microsoft Office 365 for sponsoring this article. Learn more about how Microsoft Office 365 can improve productivity for your team at: Microsoft Office 365.

I’d say we’re in the middle of a massive transition in the business world, but that seems too narrow in scope. The entire world is being transformed through connectivity – to the point where, yeah, you kind of can be in two places at once. But, let’s focus on the business world, because hey, everyone has to make money, right?

The old days of the office where everyone is physically present is fading away (with apologies to Yahoo!). It used to be that the scope of work life was bound up in the confines of that office. The Internet, along with mobile technology, has broken down those confines, blending work and personal lives. It can be debated whether or not that’s a good thing, but in a way, that’s a pointless debate. It is, and employers and employees alike have to figure out how best to navigate the new digital office.


For employers, that can be daunting. Mobile communications has the potential to unlock efficiency and productivity that would have never been possible before, but, then again, we’re in a transition. That means we don’t have everything figured out quite yet, and that’s not good for business. The old physical office made it easier for managers to keep a tight lid on what was going in and out of the company, and what employees were doing with their time. Now, with more employees working away from the office, that level of control isn’t there. Managers can have a hard time getting the full spectrum of information on what is going on in their company, because with the confines of the physical office rendered obsolete, there hasn’t been a clear replacement for those boundaries. A lack of information translates into inefficiency and waste – never good things.

Office 365 is looking to change that by being a digital office that is convenient and empowering for employers and employees alike. That digital office is the cloud, with Office 365 putting all the tools needed to run a business in one comprehensive suite, streamed right from Microsoft’s servers. There are no shortage of services offering parts of what Office 365 offers, but few come close to offering the full package – not just everything you need to increase productivity and collaboration to run a modern business, but components that are built to complement each other.  It includes Office, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online.


First, there’s everything you would expect when you hear Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, and Publisher. That’s everything employees need to be productive, and they’re all available as desktop programs and web apps–so you always have the latest features streamed via the cloud-through Office 365. You also get mobile versions of those apps to use on Windows Phone, iPhone, and Android Phones – no less important when work can be done, shared and synced just as easily on the subway as it can be done in the office.


So, employees can get their work done anywhere, anytime. That’s great, but it’s only half the battle. The next step is getting those employees to collaborate and share their work in a robust, secure way. Office 365 also includes Microsoft Exchange Online,which offers hosted email, and Lync Online opens up real-time instant messaging and video conferencing, with presence information. Need to collaborate with someone from another company? Federation makes it possible to use Lync to communicate from people in other organizations.


SharePoint Online ties it all together – your company’s intranet, in the form of an enclosed social network. All of the collaboration tools in Office 365 come here to roost, with SharePoint sites teams can store, organize and share documents easily – keeping everything in one central location that team member can access and edit.  And, for the manager, SharePoint offers a wealth of data mining and analysis features that help management keep track of what’s going on in their company, and lets them find where tweaks need to be made.

Even the price is built around flexibility. Office 365 works on a per-user-license model, so you only pay for as many licenses as you need each month, starting at installation on five PCs or Macs. And, each user you authorize is able to access the full wealth of features Office 365 on their own devices.

With the new, comprehensive digital office that Office 365 represents, employers and employees alike have access to data and information from across the company, allowing for quick decision-making and collaborations that weren’t possible before in the physical office. And, with a whole suite of tools built to work together, you might soon find your employees working together in much the same way as the features of Office 365.

Thank you Microsoft Office 365 and Technorati for being sponsors of this article. All opinions expressed here are my own.