Productivity is at the core of every business's goals - if this wasn't set in stone before, the recent recession certainly provided confirmation. These days, the efficiency with which most companies operate depends largely on IT infrastructure; a collection of hardware, software and everything in between, all designed to make everyday tasks easier. For a large number of organisations, the most important piece of this increasingly complex productivity jigsaw comes in the shape of Microsoft's Office 365 suite.
Office 365: the backstory
The enterprise IT landscape has changed drastically in recent years - the way in which companies both source and use their tech is evolving faster than ever before. Mobile and cloud advancements have had a particularly sizable impact, allowing productivity to continue away from the traditional confines of a physical office space.
While the dawning of this digital revolution created plenty of exciting opportunities for companies to capitalise on, it also generated a plethora of new demands; many of which were met when the cloud-based Office 365 arrived on the scene in 2011.
Office 365 was designed to provide businesses with an easy-to-use, web-based collection of e-mail services, collaboration tools and cloud storage solutions. The first releases, therefore, comprised hosted versions of SharePoint, Lync and Exchange, as well as cloud-based Office applications - essentially removing the need for firms to physically bring all of these things together themselves.
In the three years since, the concept has evolved to include a range of features designed to cater more specifically for different types of organisations. The widening appeal of the cloud also means the product's target audience has expanded to include consumers who are able to benefit from using programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint on a subscription basis.
The way in which Office 365 allows businesses to move their essential productivity tools into the cloud is beneficial in a number of ways. This begins with implementation. In the past, businesses were forced to invest heavily in infrastructure before IT could have any real impact on everyday operations. With hardware, software, maintenance and licensing to consider, it's easy to see how this can be expensive right from the start; the costs then continue to mount, with an ongoing need to keep up with technological advancements.
Use of the cloud - and Office 365 in particular - goes a long way to eradicating the need for on-site infrastructure, removing the costs and time-consuming labour that come with it.
Scalability is also a big plus-point here, especially as Microsoft's offering has grown to become somewhat modular. Different levels of service give companies a certain level of choice as to which features they pay for and benefit from. When business picks up, the platform can be expanded accordingly.
Data migration: the biggest challenge
As with most modern technologies, there are obstacles and downsides to consider when shifting essential productivity tools to the cloud. While Office 365 all but eradicates the need for businesses to invest heavily in on-premises infrastructure, the initial implementation stage won't necessarily be simple. When a business has had its conventional setup in place for so long, the migration of data will be a sizeable task for any IT department to undertake.
The process is lengthy and calls for specialist knowledge. The cost that this can generate for a business is often not realised until the impact starts to take effect further down the line.
Let someone else worry about migration
While the obstacles are minimal in quantity, the size and indirect cost of the migration process can be enough to prevent businesses from making the most of the opportunities that Office 365 provides - or even from considering it in the first place. By selecting a Microsoft Partner, however, this doesn't have to be the case.
Microsoft has a carefully selected list of expert partners which it trusts to supply and manage Office 365 for enterprises across the world - this kind of arrangement can bring with it a number of significant benefits.
For a start, an established partner such as Cobweb will be able to deal with the daunting task of onboarding - taking your company from its current platform and moving it into the cloud. With a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from, a dedicated team will be ready to complete the process with complete efficiency and accuracy, ensuring you're able to hit the ground running.
The benefits then continue long into your relationship with Cobweb 365. One of the most prominent comes in the form of accessible and helpful support; a localised team of technical experts will be on hand to provide assistance should any queries arise during your use of the system. This could involve anything from adding new users to the system right through to getting the most out of its mobile capabilities.
Just months ago, Microsoft claimed that Office 365 was the fastest growing product it had ever released. That really is saying something when you consider the global impact that Word, Windows XP and the Xbox franchise have all had. It's easy to see why this is the case too - there's so much potential to be explored. Businesses do, however, face challenges as they look to capitalise on the opportunities presented to them. This is exactly why it makes perfect sense to work with a trusted Microsoft partner like Cobweb.