This year we have taken the opportunity to attend Digital Workplace Conferences (DWC) held in Melbourne and Auckland.

The speed of change in the digital technology environment is well documented and a lot has changed since our last DWC in 2015, In this blog I will focus on the maturing Office 365 (O365) platform.

Microsoft Adapting to the Digital Economy

In the early 2000’s it appeared that Microsoft had missed the digital boat. However, the Office 365 platform, formally launched in June 2011, clearly established Microsoft’s alignment with, and leadership role in, key trends in the IT industry and digital business environment:

Cloud Services and Platforms (available anywhere, scalable, on demand)
Mobile (multiplatform, context aware)
Digital economics (subscriptions, “free” services, scalable and value-add services)
Social and Collaboration (application and data integration, cross boundary sharing)
Data as an asset (Big Data and Analytics)

What is Office 365?

Office 365 leverages Microsoft’s established and trusted office automation applications (1 in 7 people in the world use MS Office daily), communication platforms and collaboration services to deliver a stable cloud centric office productivity environment. Microsoft Office 365 is:

Microsoft products, services, platforms and storage (see note below); provisioned from the Cloud from dedicated Microsoft data centres via the internet (providing global enterprise level security, management and fault tolerance)
Based on a subscription payment model (monthly payments) structured to meet the needs of different market segments (from personal, to small business to enterprise)
Managed by Microsoft – automated updates, new service delivery, scalable to meet client needs (increase/decrease licences and data storage on-demand and with greater transparency of cost)
Multi-device capable (Windows, Apple – iOS and Mac, Android) with multiple access options (online via a browser and local installation of applications or apps based on subscription model)

In Office 365, Microsoft created a stable foundation for an increasingly integrated, feature rich and flexible whole of business productivity environment.

A business-centric approach to an Office 365 Implementation

Michael Sampson’s presentation at the Auckland DWC “Change Management for Digital Transformation” presented a business centric approach to understanding, implementing, and gaining maximum business value from, Office 365. He identified the importance of:

clearly understanding the business opportunities offered by O365
establishing clear links to strategic mission and the contribution that O365 can make
providing visible Executive Support (words, actions, budgets and governance)
creating business engagement (identification of real needs and openness to new approaches)
commitment to strategic and operational change (existing practices and ingrained culture may need to change)

Business Impact of Office 365

Since its launch, Office 365 has been maturing, adding new products, services, capabilities and capacity. Both the number of products and services offered and the pace of delivery is challenging traditional IT structures and services and disrupting established business change cycles.

Deciding to implement Office 365 may be the catalyst for your organisation to accept that operating in the digital economy means learning to adapt to change (increasingly fast paced):

Small frequent changes (e.g. updates and new features delivered in O365 as they are ready)
Large significant changes (e.g. new capabilities and functionality like Skype for Business and Groups that may provide better and more integrated solutions or be more cost-effective)

It will also focus the need for organisations to develop a new profile for IT, recognising that there will be:

Less operational and administration tasks
More analysis and consulting

As part of this new profile for IT service delivery, Michael identified that in this emerging digital environment: “Organisations will need good technologists with great business acumen.”

Note

Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions currently include (but are not limited to):

The latest edition of popular productivity tools, provisioned from the cloud and available for download (n.b. depending on subscription model): Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access and generally include 1TB of OneDrive personal storage.
Microsoft recently added Project 2016 and Visio 2016 (with free view capability).
Small Business and Enterprise plans add Skype for Business (conferencing), Exchange (mail), SharePoint (collaboration), Delve (which surfaces relevant content), and Yammer (enterprise social network).

Further Reading:

Re-imagining Productive Work with Microsoft Office 365 our book of the month for September 2016.