The Microsoft Office 365 suite is a cloud-based version of traditional Microsoft Office software that is particularly suited to the small to medium enterprise (SME) market, as the agility of these organisations makes the migration a fairly simple and straightforward task.
According to Bloomberg, the benefits the SME will gain after moving to Office 365 are countless. These include the typical advantages associated with the cloud, such as enhanced mobility and dramatically reduced investment in software and infrastructure.
Migrating to the cloud also gives growing SMEs the ability to scale the number of licences needed based on the number of people being employed at any given time. There is therefore no need to purchase an expensive annual licence for a person who may only be with the organisation for a few months. The ability to leverage greater flexibility through a "pay as you use" subscription-based model is a big draw card for many smaller businesses, and can save substantial sums of money.
In addition, Office 365 offers SMEs access to the latest Microsoft Office tools and versions, without the cost of constantly upgrading, says Bloomberg. Furthermore, access to advanced features and functionality like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Microsoft Office Web apps are also included. With Microsoft Office 365, SME users can easily access sophisticated e-mail archiving solutions as well as rich collaboration tools without massive additional investment in infrastructure that previously made these systems prohibitively expensive to implement.
He says another concern for SME users is that their experience with the Office suite will be different in some way, or performance will be negatively impacted by the migration. For users on the latest version of the Office suite, the experience will be a seamless transition, with nothing but the way licences are billed on the back-end changing. However, if SMEs are still making use of older versions of Office such as 2007 or 2010, then a difference in the experience will be noticeable, much the same as if the organisation had upgraded their traditional Office licences. In terms of performance, migrating to the cloud does not affect the speed of applications in a negative way. Users may even find that their experience is faster and smoother, since the applications are not reliant on a computer's on-board memory but rather on the cloud-based servers.
Before embarking on a migration, however, it pays to research all options to make certain this is the right solution for the business. Once a decision to move to Office 365 is taken, it is advisable to backup any and all important e-mails and documents as an extra measure of protection during the migration. It is also helpful to consult with a specialist SME IT outsource provider, who will be able to assist with the entire back-end of the migration to ensure the experience is seamless for the users.
For the SME market, there are very few cases where a migration to Office 365 will not offer substantial benefits. Apart from additional features and functionality, and access to the latest solutions and support, the cost per user on an annual basis is less than an annual subscription fee, and for that reason alone the move is a compelling one. This licence is also valid for up to five devices for a single user. When features such as Web applications, which make Office applications available on smartphones and tablets, are added into the equation to enable flexibility and mobility, the argument for Office 365 is even stronger. By partnering with an experienced specialist SME IT outsource provider with a proven track record, SMEs will be assured of a smooth migration so that they can leverage the benefits seamlessly.
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