Microsoft Office 365 is one of the most popular set of applications for businesses on the market. Office 365 boasts a number of great strengths, such as its scalability, subscription model, 99.9% uptime and wide range of cost effective applications - but one of its key strengths is how rapidly new features and applications are being added to the suite.
The Importance of Progressive Tech
As technology is now fundamental to business success, using a progressive platform with a clear technology roadmap is vital. Microsoft have strived to make Office 365 as transparent as possible with a dedicated roadmap site to show all updates being launched, rolling out, in development and past releases.
Recently Office 365 have been adding a wide range of great new features to current applications and even releasing completely new applications. Some of these may be added bonuses, but some may even be able to replace existing licensed products adding even further benefit.
One of the biggest Microsoft releases this year has been SharePoint 2016, which builds on SharePoint 2013. SharePoint Online (standalone or as part of Office 365) will be automatically updated with the new features from the 2016 release while those using SharePoint on-premise can upgrade to SharePoint Server 2016. If you’re just using SharePoint as a standalone product it can be worth considering Office 365, as SharePoint Online is included within the subscription.
SharePoint 2016 focuses on taking advantage of cloud innovation from Office 365 to align with Microsoft’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy that underpins everything they do. This release heavily focuses on:
- Cloud inspired infrastructure (and hybrid abilities)
- Improving security
- Improving mobile experiences
- Overall improved user experience
Microsoft have already given a short-term roadmap for future updates that will be coming to SharePoint, which includes iOS mobile app (now released) and Windows and Android apps, Group integration and much more. Find out about the future of SharePoint here.
Perhaps one of the most exciting new apps to be added to Office 365 is Planner, Microsoft’s new project & task management tool that’s being compared to the likes of Trello. If you’re already paying for task management software, such as Asana or Slack then this could be a possible alternative that’s already included in your subscription price.
As Planner was only released a month ago we should expect to see a lot of changes and updates as Microsoft build on the first release. While it may need a few releases to mature, it’s already a great application for lightweight take management and teamwork planning. If you’re already using Office 365 we recommend trying it for yourself, or reading our beginners guide to Planner here.
Groups in Office 365 are a simple way to work together, which integrates across the Microsoft stack. By creating a ‘Group’ (which can be done in seconds) you automatically create a shared inbox, calendar, file repository and OneNote notebook. This allows any group information to be recorded in one place and accessible to everyone involved – there’s even a mobile app.
As Groups is still relatively new, it’s still being updated so it will be exciting to see what further features and integrations are added. As Groups tie in closely to new applications such as Delve and Planner it’s likely to be a focus of Microsoft as the product matures.
Sway is a quick and easy way to create and share visual information, such as reports, newsletters and presentations. Like Office, it’s extremely intuitive to use with drag and drop capabilities and you can easily share your presentations with anyone. While it might not replace anything you currently use, it’s just another great new app that you’re able to take advantage of if you want to. Since its release last year, we’ve already seen a number of great updates to the app such as added password protection and increasing content limits. There’s even a ‘Sway UserVoice’ area to suggest edits and updates so you can help shape the app. Have a look at some of examples of Sway or find out more about Sway here.
Delve & Office Graph
Delve is a ‘discovery and search tool’ which intelligently surfaces information that is relevant to you. It’s all powered by Office Graph, which sits in the background using machine learning to gather personalised data based on a users’ identity and activity, while Delve is the interface in which the data is presented. Rather than choosing what you see, Delve shows you the information that it has calculated as being most relevant to you. If you have a meeting in your calendar for the morning, it would surface the agenda ready.
Delve is one of the first apps built on Office Graph and is already very prominent across Office 365 applications. As Microsoft continue to work towards a more connected and intelligent workplace, we can expect to see Delve continuing to evolve as well as new applications powered by Office Graph and machine learning.
Office 365 Video
Office 365 Video is a secure portal for video content. It acts as an internal video library allowing videos to be stored online so that anyone can access them while benefiting from business security from Office 365. Some of its key features include:
- Tight permission settings and control levels
- Ability to embed video onto websites and SharePoint
- Responsive video viewing
- Integrated search (powered by Delve)
You can find out more about Office 365 Video here or start using it today if you have Office 365 – just look for it in your app launcher.
Last year Microsoft updated the famous Office suite – going from Office 2013 to Office 2016. For those using Office 365, Office is automatically updated so you have the latest version. While there weren’t as many changes to Office 2016 as there were between 2010 and 2013, there has been a great focus on improving collaboration, sharing and creating an even better user experience. Some of our favourite features include the improved Outlook attachments, the ability to work together and edit the same documents, one-click file sharing and some new additions to PowerPoint. All the updates help users to work quicker and allow staff to work together easily. For a full list of all the updates to office 2016 have a look at our article ‘What’s new in Office 2016’.
Office Mix is a great new PowerPoint plugin that allows you to create interactive presentations that can easily be shared and analysed. The best part about Office Mix is how simple it is to use, allowing anyone to create a variety of presentations. You can add different elements such as videos, screen captures, quizzes and polls and then choose who can access these with tight permission settings. The analysis allows you to see who has viewed these, if they have completed any activities and overall time spent.
This could have a great use across different business areas, such as HR introduction videos or Health & Safety training. If you haven’t tried Office Mix we recommend trying it for yourself or you can find out more about Office Mix here.
Since the appointment of Satya Nadella at Microsoft 2 years ago, we’ve seen some very exciting releases, which all follow an aligned strategy – their “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy. Office 365 has gone from strength to strength and now fit together to offer a suite of applications unlike another other on the market. Their commitment to a transparent and progressive strategy – and the delivery on this – is one of the reasons we are Microsoft Gold Partners and have always focused on Microsoft technologies. We believe that Office 365 is the best business solution available and we love showing businesses just how much value it offers and all the new features that keep being added.