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Grow Your Business Technology

How Office 365 Can Improve Your Business

How Office 365 Can Improve Your Business
Credit: Microsoft

Office 365 is not just another flavor of Microsoft’s venerable Office software suite that tweaks the old standby and moves it to the cloud, say the authors of a just-published guide to this productivity package. The killer app that Office 365 brings to the small business toolkit is collaboration.

Office 365 wraps familiar Microsoft tools such as Office productivity applications in a cloud service package that includes SharePoint’s document management functions, Exchange Online’s email, calendar and contact features, and Lync Online, a communications service that integrates enterprise voice, instant messaging and Web-, audio- and videoconferencing.

"The real power of Office 365 is that it facilitates collaboration and makes teams more effective," said Donald Nilson, who wrote "Microsoft Office 365 in Business" (Wiley Publishing, 2011) with co-author David Kroenke.

Their book takes a 360-degree look at Office 365 through the eyes of the business user. Each chapter begins with a common business scenario, "Of course, this would never happen in your business…," and then explains how Office 365 could effectively address the situation. The result is a user-friendly, jargon-free tour of Office 365's extensive features and capabilities with screenshots to guide you on your way.

The authors also make no bones about the audience for the book.

"If you're not thinking about working in groups, put this book down," they wrote. "You don't need Office 365; use your current version of Office instead."

For those who are convinced that working in teams and collaboration is the wave of the future, Office 365 is a compelling offering, particularly for companies with employees who are geographically dispersed, as were the authors during the writing of their book.

We've come a long way from the days of yore — for example, the '60s, the era in which the  TV hit "Mad Men" takes place — when everyone worked at the same location at the same time and meetings were always face-to-face, the authors wrote.

"We used Office 365 every day while working on the book," Nilson told BusinessNewsDaily. "My co-author and I have been using Office 365 since its early beta days. We instantly saw the power of it and that it would be a big hit in the market and decided to write the book."

Office 365 also makes affordable to small businesses tools that were previously only available to large organizations with deep pockets and extensive IT infrastructure resources, Nilson said.

"Sharepoint, Exchange and Lync are massively powerful server-based tools that have been used by large corporations for years," he said. "Office 365 makes them affordable to even a one- or two-person company. You don't need to invest resources in maintaining servers on premises."

Office 365 can be a transformative tool for small businesses, Nilson said. It also turned out to be a transformative agent in his own career.

"In the course of writing the book, I became so excited about the value of Office 365 for small businesses that I decided to devote full-time to consulting with small businesses on the use of Office 365," he said. "The small business I previously worked for was my first client."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.