Cloud-Based Collaboration Takes Employee Communications to New Level

Posted by Brian Levine on Sep 16, 2016 4:51:00 PM in Cloud Solutions

cloud-based-collaborationThe way people communicate at work is changing. With more employees telecommuting, flex-timing and working while traveling, the capability of interoperability and seamless employee communication is integral to a company’s success. Mobile technology and cloud solutions are providing critical technology to fuel this transformation, making employee collaboration possible.

Microsoft Office 365 has built in all of the tools a modern workplace seeks while providing workers with a familiar interface and accessible, cloud based collaboration. All of this indicates that Office 365 for Business could be the key differentiator for businesses that want to elevate productivity, streamline communications and promote real time collaboration.

One Portal for Collaboration in Outlook Cloud

Office 365 is made for cloud based collaboration. Regardless of size and tech aptitude, the built-in tools offer any company the ability to achieve the optimal workplace experience irrespective of their location or device type. Today, 1.2 billion users worldwide use Office 365, Outlook, Skype for Business, Outlook instant messaging and OneDrive daily to communicate, collaborate and get things done at work. One reason for the popularity is the ease of use with single portal management for all of the Microsoft suite of products. To put it simply, every tool you need is available on the same screen.

Because it is entirely cloud based Office 365’s email and calendar app, Outlook 2016, is designed for portability and function. There seems to be no limit to the amount that can be stored, and it allows sending attachments as large as 300GB.

It is fully integrated with all of the other Office 365 tools and applications. From this single interface, a user can send mail, make calls through Skype Outlook or use the Outlook instant messaging feature. It is even possible to create documents such as PowerPoint slides, Excel charts and Word docs right in their email. If they have a moment of inspiration mid-email, they only need to open OneNote, a tool that makes it possible to get thoughts down fast and in a number of ways such as drawing, capturing images, handwriting, text, and voice memos.

Since all of the content created is managed in one place, it is a breeze to share with co-workers. This capability includes shared calendars which allow direct scheduling Skype HD video meetings, a feature which is integral to collaboration. With mobile access from any device, the functionality and reliability offered by Microsoft Office 365 integration provides your team of employees a streamlined communication tool where they can come together create and share.

Because it is part of Office 365 Online, there are layers of authentication and security built in thanks to Microsoft's trustworthy computing. It protects and encrypts all communications and contact information, and the user maintains complete control over their account and features.

Cloud Phone System with Skype for Business

As far as cloud phone systems go, Skype for Business is top of the line. It is possible to have HD video conference meetings with real time collaboration,  and it has the capacity for up to 250 people. But Skype Outlook's technology additionally has a PBX feature that provides easy cloud phone system set up and scalability. This opens a number of capabilities and ease of management no matter where your employees my be set up for work.

Businesses that switch to cloud phone systems definitely save time setting up a new line, and in today's mobile landscape, with Skype's PBX feature means no matter where an employee's office may be, with PSTN Calling from Microsoft  a phone line can be set up and have employees connected without delay. This is also great for branch offices or departments in a separate office location. It will work just like any other landline phone, with one touch calling capability, call transfers and call holding.

Continuing Microsoft's focus on cloud based collaboration, Office 365's Skype integration also allows for real time co-authoring of documents while on a group video conference, but that isn't the only opportunity.

An addtional feature to note is that it is even possible to start chat conversations from inside Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote online providing the ultimate real time co-authoring functionality. 

Real-Time Co-Authoring Speeds up Projects

To say that the real time co-authoring feature offered in MS Office 365 is helpful may be the biggest understatement ever uttered. In today’s global and increasingly mobile workplace, in-person collaboration isn't always possible. When information and content need to be shared, and input needs to be immediate, having the capability for real-time, multichannel communication is crucial. This feature has been available for some time to Office users but Office 365’s use of OneDrive--Microsoft's cloud storage that is part of the suite--allows users access to each other and the exact working document like never before. It truly is the closest approximation to in-person collaboration possible. It is no longer necessary to wait for revisions, and it eliminates miscommunication thus proving a major time-saver and productivity booster.

When employees share a document from OneDrive or SharePoint Online with other co-workers, they can view, make edits and co-author the writing as if right in front of one another. When multiple people are in the document at the same time, their names appear in the list of co-editors at the top right of the browser window. Next to the list of co-editors, there is an easy to identify blue chat button.

The feature-packed Office 365 for Business is the multi-solution tool of productivity, technology, and communication for all organizations who wish to improve employee communications and collaboration. Its ease of use and familiar interface make it possible for any business, regardless of tech acumen or size, to transform their workplace into a cloud based, fully mobile network that eliminates the barriers created by distance, time, and use of multiple devices.

Are you ready to take your business to the cloud?  Learn more about starting your journey with our free Guide to Digital Transformation for Small to Midsize Businesses. Download it today.

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Brian Levine

About the Author: Brian Levine

Brian is a partner at Finchloom and the EVP of Sales & Marketing.

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