Innovations in IT infrastructure have led to an eclectic mix of organizations, split among traditional, hybrid, and cloud infrastructure. While there are many examples for every category, the general trend toward cloud computing is clear to see. As noted by Gartner, by 2025, cloud computing will account for more than half of IT enterprise spending.
The most important questions are why businesses are deciding to migrate to the cloud and how they’re doing it. This article will provide answers to both through an example — the Intelligent Workplace you can achieve through Microsoft 365 and its extensive app suite.
Challenges are the driving force behind innovation
As our way of working became more complex, staying efficient also became more difficult. For example, processing invoices in large organizations means information and documents passing many times, which led to the need for a streamlined workflow and the infrastructure to support it. The old process of handing invoices from one person to the next could lead to errors, a lack of overview, and long approval times.
Likewise, communication and collaboration across separate offices, as well as colleagues working from home, can slow down day-to-day business unless companies invest in increasing mobility and accessibility. The Covid-19 pandemic proved the value of enabling their teams to work from any device at any location and the risks of not doing so.
There is also security to always consider. Protecting sensitive information means carefully managing access, and roles, as well as setting up modern firewalls to stop outsiders from getting it. For large organizations with thousands of employees, these protection measures need to be an integral part of the infrastructure and require as little oversight as possible.
Lastly, even when workflows are defined and colleagues can easily communicate and access the resources they need, there is still room for improvement. Repetitive yet time-consuming work can significantly slow down processes and lower overall job satisfaction for your team. So, IT infrastructure solution providers recognized the need for bespoke software to answer the specific challenges that companies face.
While these are just broad categories of obstacles that many organizations face, their solutions serve as the inspiration and building blocks to creating Intelligent Workplaces — digital ecosystems that leverage a broad range of digital tools to empower teams to get more work done with less effort while maintaining excellent security and mobility.
Creating an Intelligent Workplace with Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 (M365) is a highly customizable cloud-based solution meant to provide businesses with the IT infrastructure and apps they need to enhance their operations while also eliminating many challenges and hassles so people can focus on value-adding tasks.
Cloud-based Office Apps
The leap from locally installed to cloud-based solutions means that your team is no longer tied to specific devices when using staple Microsoft products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote. So, the first benefit to your organization is the ability to always access and work on documents from any location or device, including mobile.
Moreover, by using cloud storage, you enable your team to collaborate on documents and keep their work synced, eliminating many headaches with version control or outdated information.
Another important aspect is the Software as a Service (SaaS) model of your Microsoft 365 license. Software updates come automatically from the service provider, ensuring that your apps are always up-to-date, and secure at no risk of causing compatibility issues with other M365 software, without needing work from the IT team.
By adding other apps in the Microsoft 365 suite to the classic Office programs, you’re getting more than the sum of their parts. For example, integrating OneDrive means that you can access and edit your documents both in your preferred browser and on the desktop app. If you opt for a Microsoft Teams integration as well, then you can even open files straight from the chat.
Collaboration and communication with Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint
Another set of invaluable apps in the Microsoft 365 toolbox are OneDrive and SharePoint for data storage and sharing.
OneDrive is designed for storing personal files, like an extension of your own computer’s hard disk but accessible from any device with a network connection and with much better security. You can give other people access to files in your OneDrive via a link, but for company-wide sharing, there is another app that gets the job done better.
SharePoint simplifies file and information sharing across the whole organization. By creating Intranet sites, teams can create libraries for storing relevant information such as news or reports. The various search and metadata functionalities make it easier for people to find the information they’re looking for. As a bonus, you can use Microsoft Power Apps and Power Automate to create powerful low-code custom applications or automate workflows and further cut down on tedious yet repetitive tasks for your colleagues.
Lastly, Microsoft Teams is the ecosystem’s communication hub. With it, people can send instant messages as well as host meetings and video calls. To further facilitate communication, people can organize into group chats and teams centered around product lines, areas, projects, interests, or other topics. Microsoft Team’s convenience comes from how it links with other apps in the suite. Employees can communicate, edit, and share documents, organize their calendars, and do many other activities without having to leave the app screen.
Maximizing results with custom-developed apps
Microsoft 365 provides plenty of out-of-the-box solutions and templates to get your organization into new flows quicker, but they also provide you with the tools to take it a step further.
Power Automate provides your organization with a low-code, drag-and-drop interface to create automated processes. The templates and AI assistance it provides are meant to simplify the development process and enable colleagues to create their own automations.
Power Apps is a set of tools that enables people to build secure, scalable apps to solve challenges in their organizations faster. From onboarding to organizing team events to helpdesk ticketing, Power Apps helps you improve efficiency and employee experience in your business.
Power BI is an interactive data visualization tool that provides up-to-date business intelligence to teams at every organizational level. With it, organizations can track their primary success factors more easily and make informed decisions while mapping their path forward.
These are just a few examples of the tools Microsoft equips you with to tear down roadblocks and create an Intelligent Workplace. Find out more about how you can improve your company and how we can help you do it!