No more silos – Office 365 as your integrated digital workplace

Office 365 offers loads of ways to help your business to communicate better. But which ones should your company be using? Spoiler alert: it’s all of them, and that’s good…

Office 365 provides a suite of tools designed to people to discover, share and collaborate on content from anywhere, and on any device.

While there are many services, each serves a different function. You might be tempted to simply replace your current setup with the most obvious analogues: Exchange Online replacing email, Skype replacing landline, OneDrive replacing your shared drives, and so on.

But the fact is these services are designed to work together, based on the urgency and intended audience of any given task. By using most of them in concert, users get the advantage of an integrated and consistent experience which can handle a majority of tasks, delivering immediate value.

What should I use when?

Let’s compare a “classic” online workspaces against Office 365’s new view of the workplace. We’ll take into account each task’s time sensitivity (ad hoc tasks versus urgent ones) and audience (personal/one-on-one versus company-wide messages and documents).

In the classic workspace, email is the major workhorse. It’s used heavily for a lot of different tasks. Company-wide news is sent out by email, as are group messages and comment threads where calls and meetings are planned. Some busy people have hundreds, or even thousands of unread emails.

Documents are stored on personal desktops and on shared drives, or in third-party document storage. We end up with multiple versions of key documents, and they’re often impossible to find. Experts hold a lot of the tacit knowledge of the organisation – but it’s hard to know who knows what, and who to ask for a particular piece of information.

In the Office 365 world, we rely on email a lot less. Skype presence means we know who’s available for a call and when, and company-wide communications take place on Yammer. Yammer has also has been set up with ‘Communities of Practice’, where those experts can spot and answer questions – and have their answers kept in a searchable format!

OneDrive holds all your documents in the cloud, while still being accessible and integrated with all your apps. There’s a natural flow into SharePoint sites, which contains your team’s shared documents. That site also furnishes the team with a dedicated Yammer forum for discussion, an overview of recent activity and news, and a robust and intelligent search facility powered by Microsoft Graph.

The new world beckons

Office 365 can replace your unwieldy communication and data silos. Better still, it integrates all your communications, increasing the flow of knowledge, and productivity.

If you’d like to investigate this topic more thoroughly, check out Richard Harbridge’s presentation on “what to use when”, which some of the content of this post is adapted from.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the brilliant features of Office 365. If you would like to know more about Office 365 and what it can do for your business, get in touch with our team. We’d be happy to discuss your needs and figure out how Office 365 can help.

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