After nearly a decade of mainstream cloud computing, few people would debate that it has been a game changer for small and medium-sized businesses in terms of how they use IT to run and market their organizations. The cloud enhances both communication and collaboration in a company and gives your staff access to files, data and documents, wherever they might be working from. You can also enjoy instant updates, enhanced security, vast storage capacity, and improved backup capabilities.
The biggest name in cloud computing, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, is Microsoft’s Office 365.
Office + Cloud = Office 365
The Microsoft Office suite, initially launched in 1988, is used and enjoyed by millions of office workers around the world – as are its familiar applications, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. We’ve all used these to write documents and put together presentations. But with Office 365, these Office apps are hosted in the cloud, so your staff can work and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets together, even if they are oceans apart. Office 365 also comes with enterprise-class email service Exchange minus the time and expense of installing and managing an Exchange server.
The Office suite also gives you new applications that make full use of the power of the cloud. This includes OneDrive, which boasts 1TB of storage so that you can backup and share large amounts of data. There is also a private social network app called Yammer, which enables everyone in your organization to chat, connect and make decisions together.
Access to files anytime, anywhere
Thanks to laptops, tablets and smartphones, the modern workforce is more mobile than at any time in history. We think nothing of answering emails while waiting for the bus, or working on a spreadsheet while sitting in a restaurant. Office 365 takes full advantage of this mobility. Thanks to the cloud, you can put your work applications onto the devices you use when traveling – and as long as you can access the Internet, you can edit, share files and documents, and work in sync with your colleagues in the office.
Office 365’s ability to enhance collaboration is one of its biggest advantages. SharePoint Online can boost productivity and save time. You no longer have to schedule times to meet up, since all work and discussions can take place in one document, and all changes made are automatically saved. There’s no need to send emails and attachments back and forth to different people in different departments, either. Document management is hassle-free, and you’re all on the same page.
Skype for Business
As Microsoft now owns Skype, it is part of the Office 365 package. It is perfect for customer-facing businesses as it gives your communications a more personal touch when you can see the person you’re talking to, as well as hear them. Skype’s instant messaging also allows you to communicate with others in the office without leaving your desk.
Office 365 offers enterprise-grade protection and business continuity
Security is important to all owners of small and medium-sized businesses. We all know the importance of updating systems and antivirus software, installing patches, and doing regular virus scans – but it can be a hassle. With Office 365, though, this is taken care of. All firefighting and patching in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Office is automatic and scheduled. That means you no longer have to stay up at night worrying about malicious online attacks. Meanwhile, you can keep your data backed up in the cloud, which stores your documents, files and mailboxes offsite. In this way, Office 365 becomes part of your business continuity strategy. If you are hit by a disaster, the data you need to be back up and running can be with you in minutes.
Office 365 gives you constant updates to the latest office applications as they are released. This is part of the subscription, and can be paid for with one flat monthly fee. In fact, with Office 365, you can even save money on new hardware and overheads – that’s because, if all of your data is hosted in the cloud, there’s no need for the usual purchase and maintenance of expensive servers.
If you want more information about Office 365, get in touch with the team at IT Authorities, and we can let you know more about how this cloud-based tech can boost your business.