In recent years, many businesses have become aware of the value of cloud solutions that facilitate effective remote work. While nobody wants to see a repeat of recent challenges, cloud-based workflow management and collaboration tools have enabled companies to mount a robust response to difficult circumstances, allowing employees to access resources, share insights and cooperate on group projects effectively from their homes.
One solution that has risen to the fore in recent years is Microsoft 365.
Launched in 2011 as the cloud-based successor to the perennial Microsoft Office product line, Microsoft 365 combines cloud storage with a host of powerful productivity tools, security features and communication channels to provide a secure, productive environment that staff can leverage both inside and outside the office. Available on a multi-tiered subscription basis, Microsoft 365 delivers a flexible, scalable set of resources, ideally suited to the changing demands of growing businesses.
Armco IT – Proactive IT Support and Managed Services for Businesses across York, North and East Yorkshire
As a leading IT support and solutions provider to businesses across Yorkshire, Armco IT has helped many businesses transition to the scalable, cost-efficient world of cloud computing. As a dynamic and flexible workplace productivity tool that can add value to workplaces across all sectors, Microsoft 365 is a truly comprehensive solution that no business should overlook. Indeed, with around 345 million users worldwide many organisations have already discovered its potential, positioning it today as the world’s favoured workplace productivity suite.
As you’re reading this now, there’s a good chance you already use Microsoft 365. After all, the platform has been touted by IT support providers as ‘the next big thing’ for over a decade, a promotional slogan that, with the benefit of hindsight, certainly rings true. Unfortunately, however, many IT support providers have failed in helping their clients capitalise on the deep and powerful capabilities of the suite, leaving staff with only a surface-level understanding of the features at their fingertips. In this article, we aim to provide an overview of Microsoft 365’s main platforms for those unfamiliar with the product, before we examine some of the lesser-known features that can be leveraged to the strategic advantage of your business.
A Brief Guide to Microsoft 365’s Main Platforms
Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that sits centrally in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Teams lets businesses organise group discussions into ‘teams’ and ‘channels,’ create communal document libraries, and schedule and host immersive virtual meetings. Teams’s chat feature provides an informal space for group discussions, email integration ensures communication is synced across multiple channels and live document co-authoring makes light work of editing and proofing files. These are just some of the features and capabilities that make Microsoft teams an indispensable communication tool.
Microsoft SharePoint acts as a virtual gathering space for content that centres around a common goal, project or business department. SharePoint’s customisable nature allows users to configure ‘sites,’ that contain the data, insights, documents and other resources pertinent to any collaborative endeavour. Deeply integrated into the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, SharePoint forms a key part of the Microsoft 365 user experience.
Outlook is an email, scheduling, and personal information management application that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft teams to connect group collaboration to your users’ inboxes. Schedule meetings and appointments, coordinate tasks, manage to do lists and organise email correspondence from both internal and external senders using a set of clever, intuitive features.
OneDrive provides personal document storage in a similar manner to SharePoint but optimised for private use. Integration with other platforms allows for seamless document sharing, and cloud-hosting allows users to access their personal files from any location.
Planner is an easy-to-use task management tool available on certain Microsoft 365 subscriptions. An intuitive Kanban Board layout makes it easy to track task progression, assign tasks, set deadlines, attach conditions and helpful resources, and spot work that’s long overdue.
Microsoft Office Apps (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
The Microsoft Office applications remain an integral part of the Microsoft ecosystem, but now, cloud-hosting and deep integration with the rest of Microsoft 365 ensures they’re more connected than ever before. File changes are saved in real-time, preventing document versioning issues, and live document collaboration allows multiple users to work on the same document, at the same time.
Leveraging Microsoft 365 for Productivity and Growth – Hidden Capabilities You Might not Know About
Microsoft 365 contains a myriad of features and capabilities designed to help business users achieve more each workday. Many of this functionality centres around the application of AI and business process automation, two fast-growing fields of computing science that are set to transform how we live and run our businesses in the coming years.
By harnessing these productivity-enhancing features, Yorkshire businesses can better integrate complex workflows, extract value from dormant data and empower staff to achieve more while expending less time and effort. Your IT support provider should be willing to talk you through these empowering features to ensure you get the most from Microsoft 365, but as an introductory exercise, here’s a quick overview of some key AI and automated capabilities that may have escaped your attention…
Draw Valuable Insights from Data
Microsoft 365’s Power BI platform allows you to harness value from data held across a wide variety of storage locations, including cloud and on-premises databases, cloud services, web content, excel spreadsheets and much more. Identify hidden correlations in your data, and transform hard-to-interpret raw metrics into communicable charts, graphs and tables using Power BI’s data visualisation tools. By exploiting data in this way, you empower your business to make informed decisions backed by information you already hold. Translate your data into better sales performance, improved customer outreach and enhanced customer service outcomes using automation in Microsoft 365.
Use Workflow Automation to Reduce the Burden of Menial Tasks
Microsoft 365’s Power Automate platform features pre-built connectors that you can apply to simple workflows to eliminate the burden of low-value, menial tasks. Whether it’s managing approvals, sending notifications or updating spreadsheets, these simple, but effective workflow automations give employees more time to focus on activities that carry strategic benefits for your business.
Using machine learning Algorithms, Microsoft 365 monitors user behavioural patterns in order to spot trends and anticipate needs. Outlook provides a case in point, with its ability to prioritise emails according to user email navigation trends. PowerPoint also provides a good example of this technology is action, with its ability to suggest design changes to improve quality and save time in the production of presentations.
Microsoft’s enterprise security and mobility suite features AI-driven capabilities that anticipate, identify and mitigate security threats and vulnerabilities in real-time. With Microsoft Sentinel and Microsoft Defender, you can deploy anticipatory countermeasures against threat actors, and secure your IT against costly and damaging data breaches.
Accessing some of these capabilities is dependent on the Microsoft 365 subscription package your business uses. If the capabilities that stand to benefit your business aren’t available to you on your current plan, then it might be worth starting a conversation with your IT support provider about upgrading. Harnessed correctly, these features and capabilities could pay for themselves many times over through enhanced productivity that supports the growth and development of your business.
Tapping Into The Full Benefits of Microsoft 365
In today’s testing business environment, Yorkshire businesses need agile, intelligent and scalable solutions in order to grow seamlessly and exploit new revenue streams. Accessible through a range of tailorable subscription, Microsoft 365 is one such solution, providing a wealth of features and capabilities that support effective collaboration, and alleviate the burden of time-consuming manual tasks. If you’re not getting the most out of this empowering cloud-based software, start a dialogue with your IT support provider today, and make sure they’re willing to help you gain maximum value from your Microsoft 365 subscription.
Armco IT: IT Support and Managed Services for Businesses Across York, North and East Yorkshire
There’s nothing we love more than seeing Yorkshire businesses flourish by harnessing the power of IT. Our team of dedicated engineers stands ready to help you overcome any technical challenge and deliver tailored solutions that help your business meet its goals and growth ambitions. From our base in Malton, we deliver proactive IT support and services across York, North and East Yorkshire. We have a strong track record in delivering impactful IT to clients across a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, design and insurance, among many others. We focus on maintaining, optimising and securing your digital estate, so you can focus on the growth and success of your business. Contact our team and let us start our journey together today.