What will be the life of users and their level of productivity after deploying Office 365? Well, it should be better. At least Microsoft and all their partners said so during the presentation about the cloud. What is the truth then? Let me tell you what my observations are.
Love: My God! It’s full of Gigabytes!
Remember the scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey” where David Bowman is traveling through the monolith Stargate and says “My God, it’s full of stars”?
Well, to be honest, your users won’t talk like that. But you can be sure they will just be happier and more productive. Why? Because Office 365 offers so much space, users will instantly forget how much harder it was to manage their inboxes just a few days ago.
Love: Access anywhere, anytime, on any device
I have seen plenty of deployments where people were forced to connect through VPN to the public cloud. What a nightmare… Do not complicate your user’s life in this way and make all services available anywhere and on any device. This is usually quite a change for users – trust me, they will be grateful for that.
Love: Office 365 = Lots of apps
When talking about mobile, we cannot forget about apps. There are many great ones available, some of them provide additional features for those using Office 365. To name just a few of my favorite:
- Outlook Mobile – great email and calendar features. Outlook integrates with OneDrive and allows for easy search for a contact in the global address list. It also syncs your contacts to the mobile device.
- Office Lens – a scanner in your pocket. Integrates with OneDrive and OneNote, so sharing a whiteboard after a meeting is super fast and easy.
- Yammer – an internal social network that keeps me up with what’s going on in the company when I’m traveling. At Predica we have integrated Yammer with a couple of LOB systems.
- Office Groups – provide access to conversations and files in my project
- OneDrive – the essence of mobility. I use it mainly to give permissions to files when I’m not in front of my PC.
- Delve – quick search for documents – they can be attached to your emails, or saved on SharePoint, OneDrive or an Office Group.
These are not all the apps, of course. Stay tuned for the next part of the toolset, including Authenticator, Video, Skype, Office – I’m going to describe them in the next post!
Hate: Same old collaboration (almost)
And now let’s move to some drawbacks. Most of knowledge workers use Office. What’s great about the brand new Office 365 Pro Plus? Update automation – it will always be up to date with no upgrades necessary in future. Cool, huh?
@PredicaBusiness: What’s great about the brand new #Office365 Pro Plus? Update automation.
However, there is one little catch here. Microsoft is slow in implementing breakthrough features that make collaboration and sharing information easier. There’s a web-first strategy going on – all the nice features we’d like to see in our toolbox appear in the web versions of the software.
Let’s consider Outlook Web – elements such as Groups support, @ mentions, new attachments, all on the web first. And guess what? When they are available on the desktop version, they still don’t work as well as the web ones. It makes it much harder then to embrace a new way of collaboration. The same is with using OneDrive instead of sending attachments or Groups instead of sending emails to 10 people.
Hate: My photo is ugly
There is – in my opinion – one thing that’s perfectly puzzling. It’s the user profile. Office 365 is being sold as a single service, so perhaps you expect to see the same information about a user in every single application – also readily available and searchable… then I have some news for you. Of course, it doesn’t work that way.
Let’s start with the user’s photo. There are situations where your state-of-the-art profile photo will look ugly because of low resolution. You have to add your picture to Yammer separately. Sometimes it takes a long way to go for the picture to sync between services and sometimes it’s not displayed at all. Frankly, after so many years of development, I would expect a much better experience. Look up more information here.
Hate: I cannot find my colleague
And now – where is my mobile number? Around 150 users’ attributes are synced to cloud from AD. You can also set them directly in Azure AD, but why on Earth can you not choose which are visible in the user profile? Only a couple of them are synced to SharePoint profile and guess what? The mobile phone number is not on that list!
You would expect that finding a person in the company’s address book is easy in 2016. Not that fast, fellow! Outlook contact search looks as if it was from the previous century. It’s completely not what you would expect, comparing to other solutions.
Hate: This button was here yesterday!
There is one thing that many customers of ours don’t plan ahead, and in consequence, affects their users’ satisfaction. Office 365 is always up to date, and this means there will be changes introduced. If you don’t regularly monitor and manage them, you will be in trouble. It’s especially true for the web versions of the services such as SharePoint.
Let’s imagine a regular user who instead of this:
Don’t worry. I won’t force you to look for three changes in the pictures. Just let me tell you there are significant changes in what is visible on the menu, and what features are in the UI. Then brace yourself and prepare for service desk tickets starting with “Where is the button…???”.
Well, unfortunately, it’s not that easy to monitor what is going on in the cloud. You should track the following sources but you will still be surprised sometimes about new or “upgraded” features. Let me help you handle this – here you have the sources to follow:
- Blogs.office.com – the primary source of major and minor announcements
- Fast Track – even if Microsoft announced development of some features, they wouldn’t tell you they abandoned it. It happened in the past. You can see it in the roadmap.
- Message Center in Office 365 Admin Portal – you will get most of the news about changes that affect your tenant here.
All in all, I’ve got a fair question that’s “entirely based in science” for you. Are you feeling more love or hate to your prospective Office 365 deployment now? I believe I’ve hit the nail right on the head with at least one of those examples, but still, I’m here to talk about all the good and the bad things. And to fix the latter.
So, if you have any questions or reflections — the comment space below is all yours. (I’m telling you… you don’t even suspect how many people you’ll end up helping by just typing your question!)
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