Ten features of Office 365 you should know about

on August 31, 2016

Microsoft Office365 has been rapidly gaining market share and usage in both SMBs and enterprises around the world. As of July 2016, Office365 is the most used online productivity suite by businesses with over 1.3 million tenants and more than 75 million active users (sold seats is much higher). Every month more than 50,000 new small businesses sign up for Office365. Most understand that they are getting some basic functionality that replaces legacy on premise or hosted solutions that they have used. These include email, productivity applications, file sharing, and video conferencing. But, wait there’s more! There are many powerful features of Office365 that many customers have access to and never take advantage of. Here’s a quick run-down of what you get in addition to enterprise class email:

1 – Planner

Microsoft Planner is a light weight tool to help organize a team around a project. It has a short learning curve and is ideal for small groups on projects that span weeks or months. Planner allows teams to organize work visually and collaborate from any device in any location using the rich Office365 platform.

2 – Mobile Device Management

If you have Office365 you have access to some basic Mobile Device Management (MDM) capabilities for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. The capabilities include access control for email and documents, enforcement of mobile device policies (PIN, roaming, etc.), and remote wipe of devices that are lost or stolen. While not as rich or complete as the Microsoft Intune offering, form many organizations, this is a good start and may be all that is required.

3 – Sway

Microsoft Sway is a visual storytelling application that allows you to create and share interactive reports and presentations. Sway makes it easy to create rich engaging visual presentations. Guess what? You get Sway as part of many Office365 subscriptions.

4 – Latest version of Desktop tools

With all but the most basic Office365 subscription plans (E1/E3) you get a full desktop office suite that can be installed on up to 5 devices. All versions of Office365 provide web based office tools (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, etc.)

5 – Coauthoring

The latest versions of the office suite (including the web based versions) are designed to simplify coauthoring. Consider working on a complex document such as a proposal. One author can be working on the financials while another works on the statement of work. Two people can even work in the same section of a document as the document locks portions as they are edited ad provides visual indicators as to who is working in that section.

6 – Delve

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Microsoft Delve uses machine learning to connect you with users and information relevant to your current task from your organization’s Office365 content including SharePoint, OneDrive, Yammer, Exchange and other sources.

7 – Yammer

Yammer is an enterprise social tool. Think of it as Facebook (or LinkedIn) for your business and partner organizations. It has a similar easy to navigate interface and you can leverage your enterprise social network from any device. Consider staff asking if a colleague can cover a shift or if anybody has had experience with a particular product. What about Crowdsourcing a solution to a problem or congratulating a deserving coworker.

8 – Office Video

Office Video is a video sharing site for your organization. Think of it as a corporate YouTube site. You can upload, organize into channels and share videos in a controlled manner. Office Video is great for training purposes and to share video from important events.

9 – Skype for Business

Skype is a business communications tool that provides, Instant Messaging, Presence, Voice calling, HD Video conferencing (both one-on-one and up to 10,000 participants). Skype can replace many third party conferencing tools that organizations may be paying for separately.

10 – SharePoint

SharePoint is a browser based collaboration and content management platform. You can store files, have them indexed for fast searching, create team and project sites, feed a website and create workflows. SharePoint can be used for storing email attachments to minimize the number of copies in individual inboxes as well as providing version control. SharePoint is also great for shared documents such as company or project calendars, contacts, etc. OneDrive is a special SharePoint site for your personal files. You can sync the files on from your primary device to it and access them from your companion devices or share them with others both inside and outside of your organization.


By Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the Manager of the Microsoft Solutions Practice at Cistel Technology Inc. , a Microsoft Gold Partner headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. Colin is a frequent author and presenter. He is also a dual Microsoft MVP.  He is an MVP for Enterprise Mobility (formerly System Center Configuration Manager) who has been working with the product since SMS version 1.0. He is also a MVP for Windows and Devices for IT. He has over 20 years of experience deploying Microsoft-based solutions for the private and public sector with a focus on mobile, desktop, cloud and data center management.

Colin SmithTen features of Office 365 you should know about