office 365

Increasing Workplace Productivity with Office365 Skype for Business

Increasing Workplace Productivity with Office365 Skype for Business 1000 450 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Skype for Business (S4B) is just one of the productivity tools in the Office365 arsenal, but it adds many powerful collaborative features that can take your efforts into the stratosphere, improve employee productivity and engagement, and streamline many of your business processes to be more efficient and agile than ever before. The modern communications solutions it offers are valuable for any size business, but nowhere is its effect as dramatic as at the enterprise level.

With full S4B integration into your Microsoft Office suite, your workforce can connect and collaborate with the click of a mouse. Add to that the ability to integrate your CMS, and you’ve got a neat little package that packs a huge punch.

What is S4B?

We are all familiar with Skype as a way to video call and make IP phone calls from your computer or device. S4B is much more than that – a complete unified communications system that combines all of your communications into a single platform: your entire network’s voice, mobile, SMS, email, instant messaging, voice mail and live chat are consolidated, and available on any device, from anywhere you might be working. All of your messaging and calls can be managed from a dashboard, which gives you the ability to monitor what is going on with every single user. This includes being able to monitor call quality as well as call length and destination, so that you can better optimize your hardware as well as your human capital to accommodate your specific needs.

Overcoming communications challenges

Increasing employee engagement is something you want to strive for, and with S4B you are giving them the tools to stay focused and continue on in their tasks without the challenges of technology, location, or even language. Yes, that’s a thing: recent features added to S4B include support for more than 50 languages. So, if for instance  you are on a video conference with a client or a remote worker, and that person is in China, you can opt to have their spoken input translated in real time. This works for both voice and video calls, and adds a new and exciting layer to what is possible.

S4B also gives your workforce the option of switching to a different mode of communication without having to exit the platform or switch devices. For instance, if you are on a call with an account, you can conference in other employees instantly, or join a remote meeting that is already in progress on the other side of the world – all without leaving your desk. If you are on an important call and need to leave your desk, you can switch to your mobile device without interrupting the call, and carry on. The same applies to your remote workforce, or to your in-the-field salesforce. In a world that increasingly expects an immediate response to most issues, your team can connect and collaborate, no matter where they are: in the airport, in transit, or anywhere there is an internet connection.

Organization made easy

Skype for Business also makes it easier to set up conferences and meetings. Integration with your CMS allows you to set up and invite your contacts to meetings from within the S4B environment. Take your efforts even further by broadcasting your meetings to up to 10,000 people, a great option for large companies with international locations. Broadcast your team conferences, training seminars, and webinars, and provide an interactive experience for your viewers as you can ask them to complete polls, ask questions and take messages as you go.

Get Started with Office 365 and Learn More About S4B

If you are considering implementing Office 365, or if your company is ready to get started with Skype for Business unified communications, we would love to hear from you. Greenlight ITC is a full-service IT consultancy, and over our more than a decade in business, we have helped thousands of Australian businesses become more productive and achieve greater success. Call today or drop us a line to speak to one of our Microsoft Office 365 specialists, and find out what Office 365 and S4B can do for you.

Office 365 Guide

A Quick Guide to Office 365

A Quick Guide to Office 365 1000 837 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Office 365 allows you access to the usual suite of software that you may have come to expect with Microsoft Office. However, it also comes with a number of other features that you may not be as familiar with. Let’s take a look at the main components of Office 365 and explore how these services can be used for your business

SharePoint Online

SharePoint is a platform which aims to help users share and collaborate on documents more effectively. Some of the exciting aspects of SharePoint include:

Sites

SharePoint allows users to design and maintain simple yet professional websites with their own custom domain name.

Document Libraries

Information can be saved through SharePoint, which will allow others to be able to quickly access data from other employees.

Blogs

SharePoint allows users to easily and quickly set up their own blog

Discussion Boards

Another feature of SharePoint is the ability to set up discussion boards, which can help productivity by providing an avenue for discussion even in large businesses.

Lync Online

Lync Online is a meeting and communication tool that lets you share and collaborate using a number of different rich media, making internal and external communication more effective and efficient. Some of the main aspects of Lync include:

Meetings

Lync gives users the ability to better share information even when meeting remotely. For example, you can share your own computer screen or applications with others, enabling a shared field of view. There are also other useful meeting features, such as a virtual white board and surveys. Of course, there’s easy integration with Outlook, meaning that you can invite contacts to participate in meetings quickly and easily.

Messaging

Lync allows users easy integration with instant messaging services such as Yahoo and Windows Live.

Voice

Lync can be integrated within phone systems, allowing you to carry out functions such as one click calling or sending voicemails to your email and Outlook

Video

Office 365 users can also use the video tool in order to communicate.

Exchange Online

Exchange Online is an email solution that provides secure, reliable access to email from virtually any device. However, Exchange also contains a number of other functions. Here’s a rundown on what Exchange Online has to offer:

Email

Exchange Online works well as the primary email server and can be used with a number of different clients such as Outlook. Not only that, but you’ll get 25GB worth of space for your mailbox, along with the ability to send emails up to 25MB.

Contacts

Exchange allows for users to store their contacts and related information. The best feature of the contact management is the ability to access your contacts anywhere, whether while at work or on the go on your mobile.

Tasks

The tasks feature within Exchange helps you to manage your activities in order to reach maximum efficiency. Since Office 365 works in the cloud, you can get updated information on your tasks from anywhere with an internet connection.

Office Professional Plus

Office Professional Plus contains the core suite of software that you would be familiar with as the essential Microsoft Office Programs. This includes programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, and Outlook. Thanks to the cloud platform, you can edit and share these documents in real time with others, making collaboration easier than ever.

As far as productivity applications go, Office 365 is a great choice that combines familiarity of their traditional offerings with new features which can all be easily accessed and shared within the environment of the cloud. With experience in dealing with Office 365 and other related products, we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have on Office 365 and explain how it can best suit your business needs.

Is Australia finally ready for Office 365?

Is Australia finally ready for Office 365? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

office365On 2 April 2014 an interesting thing will happen.  Telstra will lose its exclusive monopoly to distribute Office 365 in Australia.   While Telstra may have the best mobile phone network, they can be sometimes difficult to deal with.  As such, the IT channel hasn’t been rushing to work with them.  In only a few short months, registered IT resellers will be able to resell Office 365 licenses to their customers, and given the price advantage, we will likely see a rapid uptake.

For those not familiar with Microsoft’s terminology, Office 365 is their answer to Google Apps.  The product combines web access to your office documents, as well as a client for most PC and mobile device platforms. Each license allows you to use Office on up to 5 unique devices, which could include your laptop, smartphone, tablet and even on a terminal server. While the license is more expensive than Google’s alternative, Office remains the standard in business productivity tools.

Clearly Microsoft is betting on its future being in the Cloud, and thanks to price pressures from Google has priced this product aggressively.  From a cost standpoint, the proposition looks very compelling.  Most business customers would see savings of around 40% per month compared to the Microsoft’s traditional subscription model (known as SPLA in the trade) for Office alone.  There may even be other savings in reduced server hardware and licensing costs.  The other advantage is that user subscriptions can be added or removed each month so you only pay for what you use. This will  benefit customers that with to scale up and/or down quickly.

However there are a few trade-off that you should discuss with your IT Service provider:

  1. Return On Investment.  Office 365 is a subscription service, so you need to pay for it in perpetuity as long as you want to access you data.  If you were to buy the equivalent Office 2013 license outright, you would have it paid off in around 3.5 years.  As Microsoft releases a new office version around every 3 years or so, it’s not surprising they set the pricing at this level.
  2. Data Location.  For Australian customers, data stored on Office 365 (or Sky Drive) is actually stored on servers in Singapore and Hong Kong. There is no option to have it stored locally.  This may have implications for customers that need to ensure Data Sovereignty from a legal perspective.  Also, it means that the cloud application may not respond as quickly as it would if the servers were hosted locally. If you’re interested in learning more about this you can find the privacy policy for Office 365 here.
  3. Third Party integration.  Many companies have a line of business application that has plugins to integrate Office functionality.  Applications that are a few years old may not even integrate at all, and all too often customers do not plan for this loss of functionality until it is too late, resulting in lost productivity, or a costly roll back to the original system.  It’s best to check with your application vendor first before embarking on a cloud migration.
  4. End User Support.   Large corporations are rarely known for providing the highest levels of customer service and support, and until April would have been the only option.  Fortunately there is a thriving industry of Managed IT Service providers that will rapidly fill this void.

Given Microsoft’s discounted pricing, we will certainly see many companies carefully considering an upgrade to Office 365. However it isn’t simply a ‘drop-in’ replacement for the other versions of Office, so be sure to have a chat with your IT company or give us a call on (02) 8412 0000 to see if Office 365 is right for your business.