Last week saw the global launch of Microsoft Office 2016, the latest version of the popular productivity and collaboration tool and the first to be designed from the ground up for mobile and the cloud. It has the potential to transform collaborative working practices for enterprises large and small.
Along with Office 2016 for Windows, Microsoft has launched Office 2016 for Mac as a one-time purchase option, as well we several new and enhanced Office 365 services.
Microsoft Office is now a lot more than Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. The Office suite includes Office 365 cloud services, Skype for Business, Dynamics, Power BI and, of course, mobile Office apps for iOS and Android.
Users of Office 365 for Enterprise, Midsize and Education will be automatically upgraded to Office 2016 in the first quarter of 2016, according to Microsoft.
Some of the highlights from the new launch include an update to Outlook 2016 email, which the company claims is the ‘smartest inbox yet’, with ‘lightning-fast’ search and cloud-based attachments from OneDrive available to all recipients of an email.
OneDrive for Business will be delivered later this month across sync, browser, mobile, IT control and developer experiences. The next generation ‘sync client’ for Windows and Mac offers improved reliability and selective sync, as well as increased file size and volume limits.
Meanwhile, Excel 2016 now includes integrated publishing to Power BI and new modern chart-types to help businesses make the most of their data, while cloud-powered ‘most recently used’ documents lists allow users to pick up working on a document, from exactly where they left, on a different device.
Office 2016 also explands real-time co-authoring from web apps and builds it directly into Microsoft native apps, which means that co-authoring on a Word document can take place in real-time, with changes appearing immediately across all co-authors. According to Microsoft, it is committed to expanding real-time co-authoring to each of its native apps over time.
Skype for Business is now available in client apps in the new version, allowing users to IM, screen share, talk or video chat from within documents. Skype for Business also has faster screen sharing and adds the option of starting a real-time co-authoring session from any conversation or meeting.
In other new features, Office 365 Groups now comes as part of Outlook 2016 and in a new Outlook Groups app on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Office 365 Groups allows individuals to easily create public or private teams, with each group getting a shared inbox, calendar, cloud storage for group files, and a shared OneNote notebook.
For enterprises, Office 2016 apps with Office 365 also come with built-in Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to reduce the risk of leaking sensitive data by giving IT admins tools to centrally create, manage and enforce policies for content authoring and document sharing.
Multifactor Authentication, meanwhile, ensures secure access to content anywhere when employees are away from the corporate network. Later this year, Microsoft also plans to enable Enterprise Data Protection (EDP) in Windows 10, with support in Office Mobile, which will allow more secure corporate content sharing and prevent inadvertent content sharing outside corporate boundaries. This will be followed with EDP for Office on Windows desktop in early 2016.
At Aztech IT we have advised many enterprises about the right Microsoft-based collaboration and productivity tools, including Office 365 and Skype for Business. If you would like to discuss your Office requirements with us, please contact us at www.aztechit.co.uk.
The average lifespan of an on-premise PBX system is thought to be in the region of 8.5 years. However, given the high cost of upgrading or replacing a PBX system many companies are stuck with outdated telephony systems that cannot provide the capability or functionality required in today’s fast-moving communications landscape. That is why a growing number of SMBs are getting rid of their on-premise solutions altogether and migrating their telecommunications capabilities to the cloud.
Hosted IP telephony, or hosted VOIP, in fact offers SMBs, in particular, a number of significant business advantages. On a macro scale, migrating communications to the cloud can provide companies with the agility, flexibility and mobility that is needed to compete in an increasingly competitive environment. However, hosted IP telephony also offers six well-defined benefits that many SMBs simply cannot risk ignoring.
- Unified communications
According to Transparency Market Research, the global Unified Communications (UC) market is expected to reach nearly $62 billion by 2018, representing 16 per cent year-over-year growth between now and then. A typical SMB with an on-premise PBX is likely to have accumulated a mish-mash of business communications tools over time, resulting in disparate and disconnected systems for desktop phones, mobile workers, web conferencing, video and audio conferencing, and so on, resulting in multiple management and billing headaches.
Migrating communications to the cloud can provide SMBs with access to a complete unified communications solution, including voice, video, collaboration, SMS, email, and so on, that otherwise would be financially out of their reach.
- Access to latest features
Moving to the cloud can provide SMBs with the latest, state-of-the-art communications solutions without the significant upfront investment demanded by on-premise solutions. Older PBX systems will have a limited feature set, compared to today’s cloud-based offerings. Furthermore, latest features and capabilities, such as new UC tools, can be integrated immediately into the offering without the need to perform any form of system upgrade.
- Eliminate costs and management headaches
The cost of upgrading or replacing an outdated on-premise PBX system is prohibitive for many SMBs, especially those with multiple locations. A cloud solution eliminates the need for costly upfront investment and on-going management and maintenance costs such as infrastructure, hardware, wiring, and so on.
- Packages to suit all budgets
Cloud providers offer a range of hosted IP packages to suit all requirements and budgets. Hosted solutions reduce expenditure on initial investment and on-going costs, but also offer bespoke packages on a predictable monthly subscription basis.
- Scalability and flexibility
The beauty of a hosted communications package is that features and capabilities can be added or removed, virtually at the touch of a button, allowing SMBs to respond rapidly to peaks and troughs in demand, or to changes in the competitive landscape. Scalability and flexibility are the hallmark of a hosted solution, allowing SMBs to concentrate on the business objectives, rather than on technology concerns.
According to Gartner, by 2017 more than half of all employees will expect their employer to offer mobile devices in order for them to perform their tasks effectively and productively. Furthermore, survey after survey shows that employees would leave their existing employer for another, if the latter offered better flexible working options.
Aztech can offer end-to-end UC solutions, including Skype for Business, to enhance collaboration and maximise productivity, and simple, pay-as-you-go hosted IP telephony services in the cloud offering all the functions and reliability of a traditional PBX, but with lower call costs and none of the complications.
We partner with the industry’s leading VoIP telephony providers, including Mitel, Gamma and Broadsoft, to deliver best of breed reliability, cost-efficiency and extended functionality.
So if you would like to discuss the business benefits that a hosted communications solution could bring to your business, please visit our website or contact us at www.aztechit.co.uk.
If any proof were still needed that enterprises, of all sizes, are migrating to the cloud, a recent survey by cloud security company Okta shows that companies are in fact enthusiastically embracing cloud computing. The results show that businesses are making aggressive efforts to enable their partners, customers and contractors through new cloud-based applications, websites, or portals.
Okta analysed data from 2,500 customers, running 4,000 applications and millions of daily authentications from 185 countries. It found that company size is no longer a strong indicator of how many cloud or mobile apps a company uses, with most businesses using between 11 and 16 off-the-shelf cloud apps, regardless of size.
Okta also used the data to determine the most popular cloud apps used at work. The following list shows the top 10 most popular apps currently used by enterpises of all sizes:
- Microsoft Office 365 – The cloud version of Microsoft’s suite of office apps, including email, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
- Salesforce – Perhaps the most famous suite of tools for sales and marketing workers for tracking customers, leads and contracts and creating marketing campaigns.
- Box – A secure cloud storage, file sharing and collaboration tool.
- Google Apps – Suite of office apps focused on collaboration, including email, a word app, spreadsheets, presentation software, storage, and so on.
- SAP Concur – A travel and expenses report app.
- Amazon Web Services – Hosts applications, from bespoke to off-the-shelf enterprise apps.
- Zendesk – Customer and technical support.
- Dropbox – A multi-device cloud storage, file sharing, syncing and collaboration app.
- LinkedIn – The social network for professionals.
- GoDaddy – Web hosting services and business apps, such as email marketing tools.
The growth of Microsoft Office 365 has mainly been driven by adoption from larger enterprises, and has for the first time overtaken the previous two years’ leader Salesforce.com.
Security issues are also evolving, according to the report. As new authentication options enter the market, companies are trading ‘classic’ sign-in options, such as mother’s maiden name, for more secure multi-factor authentication methods, such as push notifications for mobile phones.
The new cloud computing environment provides businesses of every shape and size with access to the same tools, services and apps as large enterprises. In turn, this allows greater flexibility, agility, scalability, mobility, and of course, cost and IT resource savings.
As an independent provider of IT Managed Services, Aztech can provide SMBs with a tailored cloud solution that is completely aligned to a company’s unique level of resources, expertise, budget and, most importantly, business needs and objectives. So get in touch with us today to discuss your specific cloud requirements.