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Grow Your Business Technology

Microsoft Office 365 (2017): Best New Business Features

Microsoft
Microsoft Office 365 / Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft consistently updates their products and services to stay relevant with business users around the world. These are just a few of the latest business-focused additions to the 2017 version of Office 365.

Outlook Customer Manager is a facet of Office 365 through which users can view customer information, including contact information, past emails, calls, notes, meetings, deadlines, files and tasks. In addition to storing information, Outlook Customer Manager funnels customer requests and communications into actionable reminders and tasks on each user's Outlook calendar by scanning the content of each email. The biggest update to Outlook Customer Manager is its increased availability; the product is now available to all Office 365 Business Premium subscribers worldwide in addition to being offered for Outlook on the web and the mobile Outlook iOS app. In addition to these availability changes, the latest version of Outlook Customer Manager includes new reminder settings and integration with Cortana, Microsoft Flow and Bing for smoother workflow management.

Microsoft To-Do Microsoft To-Do is currently only in beta (preview), but it is available for mobile access and download now. The new product is aimed at helping business users stay organized by giving them the ability to write reminders, to-dos and notes, and assign due dates to any item. One of the best features of Microsoft To-Do is the ability to color-code different tasks, which makes it easy to maintain both personal and professional To-Do items on one list.

The intelligent Suggestions section of Microsoft To-Do aggregates items from your various To-Do lists and uses an algorithm to recommend the most important tasks for each day, but users can also hand select their own tasks in the My Day portion of Microsoft To-Do. It's not clear when Microsoft To-Do will leave the preview phase, but for now, users can get the functionality of the task management tool as well as offer their feedback to Microsoft, which may inform future versions of the product.

Office 365 Groups is a collaboration tool available to any Office 365 subscriber on the Business Essentials, Business Premium or Enterprise E1, E3 and E5 plans. Office 365 groups makes it easy to select sets of people and collaborate with them on different projects without managing complex permissions for each person. Users in the same group can access shared inboxes, calendars, document libraries, OneNote notebooks, SharePoint team sites and planners (for project management).

The latest updates to Office 365 Groups include comprehensive tools for managing groups on the admin side. Admin level users are now able to restore deleted groups after a period of 30 days, manage security with retention policies, add rules based on labels and more. While these tools will likely only affect admins, the new Office 365 Groups also features broader-reaching improvements, like the ability

to grant guest access to people outside your primary organization, and limit the ability to create new groups to specific people.

In 2016 Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Stream, which is essentially a more robust version of the older Office 365 Video. For now, both products will coexist, but eventually they will merge, and Microsoft Stream will be the only business video service supported, says Microsoft.

Microsoft Stream brings with it many new business-friendly video features, like easier control over user and channel permissions and the ability to create subchannels within certain groups. In the updated video service, users (with permissions) will also be able to comment directly on videos and like them. If you want more information on Microsoft Stream, check out our FAQs page here. [Read related article: Microsoft Stream FAQ]

As Microsoft continues to add functionality to its Office 365 suite, we'll update our guides accordingly. Based on the changes we've noted here, as well as Microsoft's guides to the services and features they're offering, it appears that Office 365 will only continue to be a powerful tool for small business owners as well as enterprise-level corporate clients.

Brett Nuckles

Brett Nuckles has been a working journalist since 2009. He got his start in local newspapers covering community news, local government, education and more before he joined the Business News Daily staff in 2013. He graduated from Ohio University, where he studied Journalism and English. Follow him on Twitter @BrettNuckles.