Are You Taking Advantage of Office 365

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The following was published in the August 20, 2017 editions of Seacoast Sunday and Foster’s.

Most small and mid-size businesses have or are moving to Office 365 for various reasons. Mostly, this is to deliver more reliable email, but Microsoft continues to bundle more software and features into the subscriptions, yet most people think it’s just email.

Microsoft offers a range of subscriptions from as low as $5 per month per user to $35 per month per user.

Office 365The most basic business subscription, Office 365 Business Essentials, offers a complete online experience for email and collaboration. If you already own Microsoft Office software for your computer, you can connect your desktop software to some of the services included in this subscription. What you get for $5 a month is impressive. A 50-gigabyte email box and web versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, allow you to work with and create files using the popular Office applications in your web browser. You also receive 1 terabyte of storage in OneDrive, Microsoft’s online file storage and sharing service. You also get SharePoint Online, a web-based collaboration platform you can use to create a private Intranet site for your business.

You also have a subscription to Skype for Business, which may be used for internal and external instant messaging and hosting online meetings. You even have access to team-based services like Microsoft Planner and Yammer, which allow you to manage team tasks and cross departmental collaboration. All this comes with 24/7 phone and online support.

This subscription level is valid for companies with up to 300 users.

The Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscription includes everything in the basic level, plus the following. The most noticeable addition is the inclusion of the Microsoft Office software for up to five devices per person. This includes PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets. You get the latest versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Access. The available OneDrive storage is unlimited at this level. Skype adds Skype Meeting Broadcast, which allows you to host online meetings for up to 10,000 participants. Email gains advanced eDiscovery with search, legal hold, export and analytics.

Also added are retention and deletion policies for email and advanced threat detection. Advanced Security Management provides insight into potential threats to your data, including data leakage. Another major benefit of this subscription is Skype calling via a Cloud PBX, which allows you to use Skype to replace your existing phone system. You have the option to use Microsoft for your local, long distance and international calling or use your existing services with Skype.

Finally, there is Microsoft Power BI, a robust analytics tool that allows the average user to create meaningful dashboards to track metrics that matter for them. There is no limit to the number of users. For $35 a month per user, this is absolutely the best value. Most businesses will pay significantly more to come up with this powerful a set of benefits through any other means.

There are several subscription options between these two that offer more and more features on top of the basics. If one subscription doesn’t offer quite enough and another too much, I’m sure there is a subscription between that will be right for your business. Challenge your company to take full advantage of Office 365, whichever subscription you may have. Chances are you are not.

One final item: You will notice I have a new title and company name this week. In late May, Internet & Telephone, LLC was acquired by Onepath. This past week, we completed our rebranding and are now known as Onepath and I have a new role that provides me with increased opportunities to work directly with our clients. We have the same local New England-based team with our New England base of operations in North Andover, Massachusetts, and our offices and data centers in Boston and Portsmouth. We add our corporate headquarters and other offices in the Southeast. It’s an exciting time for our clients and our dedicated team of technology professionals.

MJ Shoer is director, client engagement and vCIO at Onepath, with offices in New England and the Southeast. Onepath is the one source for all things to do with designing, deploying and supporting technology – from cable to Cloud. He maintains a blog about IT at www.mjshoer.com and may be reached at mshoer@1path.com.

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