Originally published on September 29, 2021
Here are 11 ways that Microsoft 365 boosts productivity and connectivity across your enterprise:
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1. Streamlined Knowledge — Sharing Through Cloud Document Management
Many organizations already use Microsoft SharePoint or OneDrive for document management, which frees business data from file shares, improves searchability, and offers tools for managing versioning history and user access. On their own, these capabilities help to improve productivity and knowledge-sharing, but Microsoft 365 takes them a step further. With the cloud-based SharePoint Online in Microsoft 365, the improved user interface and interconnectivity makes it easy to manage documents in cloud-based libraries and offers seamless document sharing.
And since Microsoft 365 integrates SharePoint Online with Microsoft Teams, it also helps employees communicate efficiently during document creation and management tasks. When an employee has questions about a document change, for example, it’s easy to send an instant message to a colleague through the integrated Teams features. Other team members have the option to find the document in a Teams channel newsfeed and comment on updates or changes.
2. Enhanced Mobile Access For Anywhere, Anytime Productivity
Microsoft 365 combines the power of cloud computing with a full suite of mobile apps, making it easier for employees to stay productive while traveling, on site or working remotely. Microsoft 365 apps focus on individual applications (Word, Excel, Teams, etc.) and are free for small mobile devices. Depending on the needs of your company, however, you may want to look beyond these standard apps in order to create a truly mobile digital workplace. For instance, you can create an application built with PowerApps that is accessible from any mobile device. Other applications like Planner, SharePoint and OneDrive also have their own applications which interact nicely with each other. The power of these apps allow you to focus on delivering your organization’s mission rather than worrying if your team is staying connected and productive on the go.
3. Social Capabilities That Support Innovation
Social tools give people in your organization the ability to interact with business content at the speed and fluidity of social media. Since most employees are already proficient with using tools like Facebook and Twitter in their personal lives, offering similar technology in the workplace applies that pre-existing proficiency to business tasks. For most users, the social enterprise tools in Microsoft 365 should present no real learning curve and require no new training. It’s easy to “like” a piece of content, comment on site contents, have a forum-like threaded conversation or embed a personalized news feed that aggregates different discussions across your organization. Both Teams and Yammer (Yammer is mostly reserved for large enterprises), included in the Microsoft 365 suite, allow your organization to set up different groups and use discussion threads specific to a department, line of business or community of interest. It enables members of your organization to ask questions in an informal context while sharing their knowledge with a larger audience. Compared to asking and answering questions individually via email, Teams (or Yammer) makes it easier for the company to retain this knowledge and make it accessible to others with the same questions.
4. Intelligent Process Automation
Many enterprises have difficulty when it comes to managing and updating processes. Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform present you with out-of-the-box online forms, workflow management and data storage capabilities that rapidly automate business processes. Utilizing Microsoft Teams and Dataverse, these solutions span across departments to serve the entire enterprise. And Microsoft 365 integrates many external tools – as an example, it enables you to pull actions from email as an integrated piece of execution within your workflow.
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5. Efficient Communication Platforms
In a large organization, communication covers a wide range of activities, many of which begin with a corporate intranet or a teamwork solution. Among other communication tasks, an enterprise intranet allows you to deliver services and information, build your culture and brand through a website, and provide a central hub for employees who want to learn more about overall initiatives and explore resources.
SharePoint Online is a great platform for developing a corporate intranet, and Microsoft 365 helps to facilitate this communication tool without the technical burden of managing your own server and on-premises infrastructure. And for general communication outside the corporate intranet, integrated services within Microsoft 365, such as Teams, increase your ability to communicate effectively with colleagues in the digital workplace.
6. Internal and External Collaboration
Microsoft 365’s communication and collaboration tools allow your employee base to collaborate effectively with one another as well as with external partners. While email is great for certain tasks, such as recording information, sharing official documents and creating an electronic record of an action, it’s an inefficient tool for other collaboration activities.
When it comes to quick questions and co-authoring documents, for example, instant messaging, Microsoft Teams workspaces and SharePoint Online sites offer better ways to share information. By integrating these tools, Microsoft 365 enables organizations to have a multidimensional collaborative environment that puts knowledge in an actionable context and breaks down geographical barriers to productivity. All of this while maintaining the highest security and compliance standard such as Rights Management with encryption (Azure Information Protection) and integrated Data Loss Prevention, content expiration and other common ways to restrict access.
7. Powerful Enterprise Search
Typically, users must browse through fileshares and folders to find the documents and information they’ve created, but this process is often frustrating and inefficient, as documents get lost in disorganized folders. Compared to browsing, search functions are often more effective tools for finding and using content. The enterprise search capabilities within Microsoft 365 have been developed over a long time for some of the largest companies around the world, and fine-tuned and integrated within the platform to provide you with a robust and cost-effective search experience. This search capability enriches document management, social content, communication and collaboration, helping users to find content quickly and easily, which improves productivity and reduces duplication of efforts. And recently Microsoft just released the ability to integrate external content source through built-in connectors and custom options.
8. Employee Experience and Engagement
Based on studies identifying the slowing of productivity and the disruption of workers logging into to many systems, combined with the rapid increase of Microsoft Teams adoption, Microsoft Viva was Introduced as a unified employee experience platform.
The Microsoft Viva solution is comprised of:
- Viva Connections – keeps everyone in the workforce connected to each other. It makes it easy for people to contribute and unites your organization around the company’s vision.
- Viva Insights addresses this issue head on, as it provides visibility into how work is happening and the impact on productivity and well-being. Insights delivers personalized and actionable insight and helps address complex business challenges with data.
- Viva Topics builds on Microsoft 365 and applies Artificial Intelligence to identify knowledge and experts from across your organization and categorize them into shared topics which are organized into pages.
- Viva Learning does just that: it allows employees to easily discover formal and informal learning when and where it’s needed, making it easier for people to learn while working and develop the skills the organization needs.
- Viva Goals enables you to align people and projects to strategic business priorities, set clear goals, and empower people and teams to accomplish more together.
- Viva Engage connects employees through communities where they can have discussions, praise a colleague, and get answers to their questions. Support relationships, especially in hybrid or remote work environments, using Viva Engage to create a sense of belonging and purpose.
9. Continuous Updates
Traditional on-premises software requires regular maintenance, patches and upgrades. With Microsoft 365, Microsoft is providing an ever-evolving platform, “evergreen”, with new capabilities being released monthly if not quarterly. With Microsoft 365, your IT team doesn’t have to upgrade your platform and can focus on providing key business services.
10. Increased Return on Investment
Cloud solutions aren’t new, but with Microsoft 365, you can have one suite that would rule them all. Whether you are a non-profit working towards a one-of-a-kind mission or an organization looking to deliver the best customer experience, Microsoft 365 removes the headache of managing day-to-day minutia. Organizations can replace many of their teamwork, process automation, compliance, and security solutions into one suite of fully integrated products. With proper adoption and change management, the fully integrated solution can drive individual and organizational productivity at a lower cost. Estimate your ROI here.
11. Enable and Foster Innovation
Every company in the world wants to be a place to enable and foster innovation. With Microsoft 365, you can provide your teams with the tools to drive better innovation. Meetings are streamlined with digital whiteboards and areas to keep notes and record the interaction. Information can be easily shared and retained. Employees feel empowered, connected and engaged, regardless of their locations.
Not sure where to start with Microsoft 365?
Contact a member of Withum’s Digital and Technology Transformation Services Team today for a complimentary consultation.