The Benefits of Migrating to Office 365

2943141099By moving to the cloud, both large enterprises and SMBs can defer many internal upfront software and infrastructure costs, reduce IT support costs and give new mobility and collaboration tools to their employees.

Microsoft Office 365, is a comprehensive collection of Microsoft’s hosted services that includes Microsoft Office applications, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, social media tools and more. By switching, businesses can quit worrying about patches and updates for a physical Exchange Server and can instead turn their attention and use internal resource to other issues, such as running their business!

When business owners consider the time involved in maintaining an email server, tracking licensing and maintaining consistent versions across all their users, the benefits of Office 365 become more evident and more

Beyond Time Savings

Although many businesses that migrate to the cloud cite time savings as a factor, cost can also be a driver — especially for organizations with aging infrastructures.

As organization grow in both size and age, IT costs can skyrocket as systems and software approach their end of life. The new business structures and competition necessitate collaboration between employees and business partners at the different sites, the cloud provides the perfect platform for organizations of ALL sizes to reduce costs, enable productivity and growth.

The move to Office 365 can solve several problems at once:

  • Organizations are able to reduce the number of its servers and simplify networks, eliminate associated maintenance and support costs.
  • Employees are able to call and web conference with each other through Office 365, eliminating the need for additional solutions.
  • The software suite which is included provides additional collaborative tools allowing employees to instant message each other, work together as a team and participate in file sharing without need of a virtual private network tunnel.

Business owners also like the peace of mind provided by the service-level agreement, which requires the system to be back up within 24 to 48 hours if it goes down. Industry sources expects strong growth in small businesses migrating to Office 365 in 2015, on the heels of three years during which that number tripled. In 2012, less than 5 percent of small businesses had adopted Office 365. That grew to 15 percent in 2014.

 

Attracted to the Flexibility

One draw is the flexibility Office 365 provides users, letting them sign into accounts from multiple devices, Chute says. Now, Office becomes incredibly flexible giving Small business managers have the ability to allow bring-your-own-device initiatives in a way that they might not have had before.

Because the move to the cloud frees up so much time previously spent maintaining physical servers, IT staff can turn their attention toward using the technology to help improve business practices. For example, some companies are taking advantage of Office 365’s mobile features to complete orders on tablet devices while out in the field with customers.

Microsoft Office 365 suite’s per-user pricing structure provides a very attractive cost per user as well as the ability “mix & match” license types based on the needs or roles of individual users.  Combined with monthly or yearly pricing options, businesses are no longer faced with large capital expenses which may be wasted as the business expands or contracts.  It is convenient to have flexible and affordable options that allow you to subscribe to only those features and services your business and users need…….and it’s nice to have everything rolled into one tool.

Sidestepping the Challenges

As with any major initiative which involves changing a user’s experience, as well as the organizations overall system methodology, preparing and implementing such a change will require proper planning from an IT perspective and preparing employees for the change.

Migrating data to the cloud can present issues that IT directors haven’t thought of in years, especially when it comes to email. Users with multiple aliases can present problems, as can antiquated data storage structures. Additionally, organizations that have older unsupported systems like Windows XP should consider cycle out the older systems first, and then move to Office 365.”

It can also be a challenge to get employee buy-in on a new way of doing things.  It’s not a simple task to ask somebody who’s been doing something for 10 years to change.”

Cloud Security

As far as cloud security is concerned Microsoft, as well as other providers have made major improvements to provide enterprise-class security to their solutions.  Office 365 offers granular security controls to protect sensitive data, control users’ access and meet many of the stringent compliance requirements many industries now require!

 

What About the Apps?

Many companies start out by purchasing a license that gives them access to hosted versions of Microsoft Exchange, Lync and SharePoint, but continue to run on-premises versions of Office for applications such as Word and Excel.

The decision is largely based on budget and convenience. A move away from an aging physical Exchange and SharePoint infrastructure can save money, but many have no need or desire to replace Office productivity apps with their web versions — at least, not yet. But many industry experts predict that this will change. We don’t know exactly when it will happen, but it’ll become the norm to buy hosted apps, particularly if you’re a small business and you’re not writing your own apps in-house.

Picking Your Plan

Organizations making the move to Office 365 have a number of different service plans to choose from. Here’s a peek at what’s offered with the “Business Essentials,” “Business” and “Business Premium” plans. These plans are capped at 300 users. Enterprise plans are available for larger organizations.

Office 365 Business Essentials

  • Online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • File storage and sharing
  • Email, calendar and contacts
  • Unlimited online meetings, instant messaging and video conferencing
  • Corporate social network

Office 365 Business

  • Online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • File storage and sharing
  • Full, installed versions of Office applications, allows up installation on up to 5 devices per user
  • Office for tablets
  • Office for smartphones

Office 365 Business Premium

  • All features of both the “Business” and “Business Essentials” plans
  • Integration into Active Directory
  • Central administration to manage users and applications

The bottom-line – Whatever you may have heard about the cloud or Microsoft Office 365 in the past and regardless of the size or industry you are in, Microsoft Office 365 should be on your radar as a viable, affordable and business transforming option!

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