Why Microsoft 365 for Business is Essential During a Pandemic & Beyond
Microsoft 365 for Business – the cloud-based sister of Microsoft Office – has been helping businesses collaborate online for nearly a decade. But in the middle of a global pandemic, this indispensable productivity suite has become more essential than ever.
A recent survey of 1,200 CIOs found that 72% of their companies’ total global workforce is currently working remotely. In 2021, the number of employees permanently working remotely across the globe is expected to double.
At a time when many workers can’t physically meet or come to the office, it’s critical that they’re able to stay productive and communicate easily with their teams. This includes being able to work remotely, conduct meetings in real time, collaborate via the cloud and have anytime, anywhere access to their business apps and data.
This is where Microsoft 365 for Business comes into play, helping organizations not only maintain productivity but also business continuity during these challenging times.
If you’re new to the platform, or transitioning to a new cloud productivity suite, here’s everything you need to know about Microsoft 365 for Business (formerly known as Office 365).
What is Microsoft 365 for Business?
Microsoft 365 for Business is a productivity cloud tool that contains a wide variety of cloud services, device management solutions and apps. It includes Office basics such as PowerPoint, Excel and Word – but unlike the versions for personal use, this suite is not just for creating PowerPoint projects and Word documents. Users can organize their time with multiple calendars, conduct meetings, host video calls, chat with team members and share files.
With Microsoft 365, Microsoft has created a better way to streamline daily operations and enable teams to achieve greater productivity – all via the cloud, so that the apps can be accessed from anywhere, on nearly any device.
Who is it for?
Microsoft 365 for Business can benefit virtually any organization, from small businesses to global enterprises. It ensures easy online collaboration for any team or group, whether for schools, front-line workers or a small family-owned business.
There is a range of plans available, and pricing options largely are based on the number of users, so that the suite makes sense for any budget and can be scaled easily as needs grow.
Why is it Essential for Productivity & Collaboration?
Regardless of industry, Microsoft 365 for Business gives every business the tools it needs to work productively and efficiently, whether employees work from home or at the office.
Let’s break down some of the core services and functionalities:
Microsoft 365 for Business offers an extensive list of apps to help businesses improve their overall productivity and collaboration efforts. Core apps include PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive, Excel, Word and Teams.
But there are several additional apps that users can choose from, such as Intune, Microsoft Editor, Microsoft Stream, SharePoint and Workplace Analytics. Together, these cloud-based apps eliminate the need to use multiple disparate apps from different vendors. Everything is consolidated into a single platform, reducing costs and making life easier for both users and admins.
Collaboration & Communication
Microsoft Teams is the platform’s key video conferencing and communication platform. The new platform replaces Skype for Business and offers several options for teams to collaborate and work seamlessly together. Users have access to chat / instant messaging, HD video calls and secure file sharing. Users can stay organized by keeping notes, documents and their calendar together. Since Teams is integrated with all the other apps in Microsoft 365, everything is connected, streamlined and simple.
Storage & Sharing
Microsoft 365 makes it easy to store and share files in the cloud, so that your teams have 24/7 access to the latest version. Every user gets 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage. Files can be saved locally and synced to the cloud or directly to OneDrive and SharePoint. File changes are automatically updated across synced devices, so that they can be accessed by other authorized users on their desktop or mobile devices.
What are the Benefits of Microsoft 365?
We’ve touched on some of the advantages of specific apps within Microsoft 365, but from a big-picture perspective, there are several key benefits that the platform offers for businesses:
- Remote Work & Business Management – Microsoft 365 enables teams to work from virtually anywhere, whether during the global health crisis or beyond. Even when it’s safe to work together in offices again, being able to connect instantly and take conversations anywhere is a vital necessity for today’s businesses. With Microsoft 365, businesses can simplify their operational management, streamline projects and tasks, manage scheduling and develop smarter workflows throughout the organization.
- Teamwork – Microsoft 365 provides several features to improve teamwork, whether everyone is in the same office or across the globe. Some handy features include chat translations, priority notifications and rich text editing, just to name a few. In additional to video conferencing, employees can easily message each other, choose different chat features, develop intranet teams and of course communicate by email with Outlook and Exchange.
- Security & Compliance – Microsoft provides numerous security measures that help protect remote work and data. Advanced identity and access management tools ensure that only authorized users have access to critical files, folders and apps. Additional security features include threat protection, compliance management and insider risk management.
Don’t Forget Backup for Microsoft 365
While Microsoft 365 provides some built-in security, it’s important to note that it does not encompass all areas of vulnerability, particularly when it comes to data loss on the user side. This is why it is still important to back up your Microsoft 365 data with an independent SaaS backup solution such as Backupify:
- Backupify – Data that is kept in Microsoft 365 is still vulnerable to accidental deletion, ransomware, migration overwrites and other threats. Microsoft is clear in its service-level agreement that users are primarily responsible for protecting their own data, which is why it’s still necessary to have a separate and independent backup solution. Backupify provides the extra protection you need to ensure continuity, backing up all your cloud data 3 times a day (and manually at any time) and storing it in a separate, secure datacenter.
Overview of Plans
Microsoft 365 for Business offers a few different packages, allowing small to large businesses to find the ideal plan for their needs and budget. Here’s a quick breakdown of the features that come with each plan.
- Basic – This was previously Office 365 Business Essentials. Features of the Basic plan include Office apps (web versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, email, calendars, file storage and sharing, Microsoft Teams, basic security and support). This plan starts at $5 per month per user.
- Standard – Standard includes everything Business Basic has, plus a few extras. This includes desktop versions of Office apps for MAC and PCs. This plan also features a variety of tools to build and manage a business, such as appointment-booking with Microsoft Bookings and mileage tracking with MileIQ. The cost per user each month for Standard is $12.50.
- Premium – Premium includes everything Basic and Standard has, plus a slew of advanced security capabilities for stronger protection against sophisticated cyber-threats, plus device management and greater admin controls. The monthly cost per user for this plan is $20.
- Enterprise – Businesses with more than 300 users will want to consider the Microsoft 365 for Business Enterprise edition. Enterprise offers more robust security features, analytics and compliance capabilities. Plans range from $10 to $57 a month per user.
- Microsoft Office Apps – This is for companies that only need office apps such as Word, Excel and Outlook (desktop, mobile and web versions), without the additional collaboration tools and features found in the other plans. This plan is $8.25 a month for each user.
Businesses can mix and match different plans, ideal for situations in which not all users need access to the same tools.
Microsoft 365 is Now Available Directly from Invenio IT
Businesses can now get Microsoft 365 for Business directly through Invenio IT as either a standalone solution or supplement to any of our other managed IT services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations in every industry to rethink their approach to business continuity. By equipping businesses with Microsoft 365, we are able to make their remote operations nimbler and more productive, while also providing the advanced BC/DR solutions and other IT services that Invenio IT is known for.
There are several advantages to getting Microsoft 365 through Invenio IT. We offer US-based, frictionless support with quicker response times than you would get through Microsoft. No waiting on hold for hours or having your call rerouted to overseas call centers – we’re here to support you with any issue, whether it’s related to M365 or other aspects of your infrastructure.
Additionally, as an existing customer, you’ll get support from experienced technicians who are already familiar with your computing environment. This means we’re able to provide faster, more proficient response and faster resolutions to any issues that pop up.