The latest iteration of Microsoft Office for the small enterprise, Microsoft Office 365 for small business, is according to value-added distributor Comztek, fast levelling the playing field in applications as a service and cloud computing.
According to David Caygill, business unit director at Comztek, the new software is an easy-to-use set of web-enabled tools that let you access your email, important documents, contacts, and calendar from almost anywhere and any device.
The real benefit of this new platform is that it is hardware agnostic, and by any device they simply mean you can now access all your documents from your PC, Mac, iPhone, Android phone, or BlackBerry smartphones.
“Office 365 is as intuitive as it is easy to deploy. It integrates seamlessly with the programmes you already know, such as Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint,” states Caygill. “You don’t need to replace your hardware to install it and it is full of features that enhance collaboration capabilities. It is also highly secure to ensure your data is protected in the cloud and boats a 99.9-percent uptime guarantee.”
But why should it matter to the small business?
Caygill says that Office 365’s main benefits are that it provides web-enabled access to email, important documents, contacts, and calendar on almost any device.
What this means is that you are no longer office bound when working and it offers the freedom to reply to requests no matter where you receive them.
“Small businesses often battle with creating a business identity, with Office 365 you can now access a host of new technologies that elevate the status of your business. Such as inviting customers to a collaborative meeting to review a shared document, all from a single unified interface that gives your business its own look and feel,” adds Caygill.
Another aspect that begs noticing is its ability to allow you to collaborate with your own teams as well as teams outside of your business. Through a password protected portal you can create an environment where you can share files, and with its instant messaging functionality you can invite customers or colleagues to participate in online meetings where you can further review documents as well as take control of a desktop.
As it emulates previous versions, it does not require new technical knowledge to get to know the system, making it an easy to deploy and execute install. If you still aren’t convinced you can create a trial account to try before you buy.
“A major concern of cloud based services remains security. Taking cognisance of this, Microsoft is providing all 365 customers direct access to its own data centres and provide system scanning of messages and documents,” states Caygill.
As Office 365 works seamlessly with the programs you already know and use, when using Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft Office Professional Plus, you can immediately view if your documents are being edited and can also synchronise documents with your desktop, as well as broadcast PowerPoint presentations, and check documents in and out of your online document library.
Another benefit for the small business is that the suite has been designed for businesses without IT staff. Through the online portal you can access step-by-step instructions on how to add users and set up your account as well as provide, only the people you select, access to the portal itself.
“In short Office 365 protects your data with enterprise-grade reliability, disaster recovery capabilities, data centres in multiple locations, and have to that end also developed stringent privacy policies,” adds Caygill. “You can take advantage of pay-as-you-go pricing options so that you can budget and predict what your software spend will be. In addition you can also allow your users with only access to the services they need, which dramatically reduces the total cost to your business.
“All in all it makes perfect sense for the small business looking to take charge of their IT, reduce their overall software costs, and gain the flexibility promised by operating in the cloud,” ends Caygill.