The modern workplace is evolving. For most businesses, it’s not enough to stay in touch; you also need a space to share content and communicate with others in a non-linear fashion - one where everyone is connected to each other at all times.
Enter cloud collaboration - the ability to work on a project or communicate with colleagues from any location using cloud-based tools. No matter where workers are located, cloud collaboration enables them to connect and work with one another in real time.
Adrian Fletcher, Solutions Architect at Idea 11 explains:
‘While it’s become common to focus on the pandemic and its impact on the modern workplace, many organisations never graduated beyond using collaborative tools as a replacement for in-office working. When used to their full potential, these tools have expanded our permanent reach, providing greater access to a wider talent pool of ongoing partners and employees.’
From offering a more direct line of communication, to improving work speed and collaboration with non-human participants and other similar technologies, cloud collaboration suites like Microsoft 365 provide new possibilities, making them a game-changer for the modern workplace. Of course, maintaining a functional and productive Microsoft 365 environment can be a complex endeavour. With constant changes in licensing and technology, overseeing this internally can take longer than it should and become an expensive process without the right expertise.
By working with a Microsoft 365 partner, you can leverage the vast potential that the Microsoft 365 suite offers – from cloud-powered mail to advanced communication and collaboration tools, flexible and remote working capabilities, best-in-class endpoint security, and powerful business security and analytics.
Let’s explore how.
The building blocks of M365
With Microsoft based tools being the standard across most IT environments these days, you’d think wrapping your heads around their different products would be a pretty straightforward task, right?
Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t the biggest fan of straightforward, so here’s a quick summary of their current cloud collaboration tools, just so we’re all on the same page, slide or spreadsheet.
Office 365, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure
An evolution of Office 365, Microsoft 365 is a suite of cloud collaboration tools that combines flagship applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook with modern collaboration tools like Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive. Built upon Microsoft’s public cloud service, Azure, these applications are all accessible from any device and any location, making it easy for teams to work together on projects and communicate in real-time.
It’s also worth noting, that although Microsoft 365 is built on the Azure platform, it can also be used in conjunction with other cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS). This compatibility is essential for those looking to access further scalability and flexibility within their remote organisation.
Microsoft 365 is safer for today's remote workforce. With a deeper focus on secure and efficient remote collaboration, Microsoft 365 has also been re-shaped to include advanced endpoint security functionality. Thanks to Microsoft Defender and Microsoft Intune, users can work from anywhere knowing they're devices are secure.
Modern tools for modern challenges
For many organisations, the combination of remote security, device management and a lack of centralised location for important documents has often stood in the way of wider user access and improved productivity.
With the right Microsoft 365 partner, you can change all that. Here’s how.
Security is a large concern for businesses switching to the cloud. While that hesitation has dropped off as remote work becomes the norm, Microsoft has still worked to ensure users feel secure at all times.
Thanks to Microsoft's Azure Active Directory (AAD), users have secure access to their Microsoft 365 cloud environment. With a single account access point, remote workers can log in and authenticate their identities without compromising security.
‘People are concerned about compromises in cloud security,’ Adrian points out. ‘As we move away from on-premises infrastructure, AAD provides conditional access policies, allowing organisations to restrict access to sensitive resources based on user or device identity, location, and other factors. So no matter what Microsoft or third-party services users are accessing, businesses can be confident that their sensitive data and vital information are always protected.’
For many larger companies, staff turnover can be huge.
‘For new staff, you have to order the device, shift it, configure, login, test it and send it off. Microsoft Autopilot and Intune offer a completely remote onboarding process, allowing you to securely configure and send each new device to your employees directly.’ Adrian points out.
From there, any employee with internet access can log in and connect with Azure Active Directory within 30 minutes. And when staff leave or a device needs to be transferred, IT staff can remote wipe the associated account and create an account for a new user – saving time without compromising security.
With a lack of a centralised location to store and collaborate on files, organisations often experienced significant version control issues, duplicate content, poorly organised data structures and time wasted searching for files.
With Teams and SharePoint, a single location is accessible for teams to store and collaborate on files, ensuring that everyone is working with the most up-to-date information and reducing the possibility of content sprawl.
Our favourite Microsoft 365 features
Microsoft 365 is feature-rich, there's no doubt about it. So why are so many of its most used tools, such as Teams and SharePoint, so underutilised?
Are they too difficult to understand? Is it too time consuming to get users up to speed?
No matter what the challenge, at Idea 11, we think everybody can make the most of Microsoft 365’s full potential. Let’s have a closer look at some of our favourite features.
Teams is a powerful communication and collaboration platform that allows users to chat, call, and video conference with their colleagues in real-time. Teams provides a hub for teamwork, allowing users to share files, co-author documents, and manage projects all in one place. Users can create channels for specific projects, departments, or teams, and have all related conversations, files, and notes in one place.
Adrian notes that Teams is rarely used to its full potential:
‘A lot of people are using Teams to only communicate via chat or video calls, but it’s so much more than that’, explains Adrian. ‘By organising your groups better, you can reduce clutter within your organisation and create clearer pathways for users to collaborate effectively.’
SharePoint is another key collaboration tool in Microsoft 365 that allows teams to create and manage internal sites, folders, document libraries, and other sensitive data. It provides a centralised location for teams to collaborate on documents, share information, and manage workflows, policies and processes.
‘The modern workplace relies on laptops and remote connectivity. For many users, these devices are not configured properly, so if your machine dies and you need to replace it, you may lose access to valuable files and documents.’ Adrian explains. ‘SharePoint removes this concern by syncing all data in a central space, allowing you to work on shared documents without the worry of losing important work.’
Microsoft 365 security features
Microsoft 365 security offers a powerful feature set to protect sensitive data and enhance collaboration. Identity and device protection, antivirus protection with Windows Defender, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and user security keys help keep user data and information secure.
Identity and device protection
Microsoft 365 can be accessed from anywhere via single account login, making it easier to track users and manage security protocols.
Microsoft Intune also allows administrators to configure strong organisational compliance, including encryption policies and passwords. It also provides greater visibility into third party services used by employees, helping to not only keep devices safe, but also drive decisions on which products are worth investing in for longer term use.
Anti-virus with Defender
Defender for endpoint is designed to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to advanced cyber threats. This gives IT security a clearer window into exactly what kind of breach – if any – has occurred and how it may impact the wider business.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Every Microsoft 365 licence now comes with improved Multi-Factor Authentication.
Depending on the chosen Microsoft 365 business plan, Idea 11 can help users choose their own Conditional Access policies, restrict logins by location, gain better oversight of login requests, and thanks to a newly updated phishing resistant MFA, reduce the threat of a cyber breach due to common user errors.
Idea 11: your trusted Microsoft 365 partner
It can be a little daunting making the move to a powerful cloud environment like Microsoft 365. After all, it’s the centre of your IT infrastructure, and getting it wrong could end in disaster. This is why finding the right Microsoft 365 partner is essential to your IT success – doing it alone can prove costly in more ways than one!
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we’ve helped many customers transform their traditional business productivity applications to cloud-powered solutions based on Microsoft 365. Working alongside you from day one, we’ll ensure that your Microsoft 365 implementation is customised to your specific needs, properly secured, and optimised for your business processes.
With ongoing support and access to the latest features and updates as they become available, you can focus on your core business activities, while our experts handle the most complex aspects of your Microsoft 365 implementation.
If you’re ready to take the next step and see how Idea 11 and Microsoft 365 can improve your business productivity and flexibility, get in touch today.