Over the past year, Microsoft has continued to make vast strides in the growth of ‘The Cloud’. Their goal ‘to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more’ is turning into more of a reality every day due to the innovation of not only Microsoft (and other cloud providers), but also customers and partners like PTG.
So, how are they expanding the cloud, and how does it affect you? For starters, you need to recognize one major thing – the cloud is no longer coming. It’s here. Several years ago, the technological world went through a major transformation as cloud hosted email providers became common (think GoDaddy, Yahoo Small Business, or Microsoft’s BPOS). No longer did a company have to acquire and maintain an expensive Exchange server to have a custom email address. Any small business could do it.
We’re currently in the middle of another digital transformation. More and more companies are moving away from on-premise hardware and location based networks to cloud applications, allowing their employees to work from any device and any location.
Think about it. You can have a server at your office that's vulnerable to power outages, dependent on your internet, and requires constant updates and backups OR you could let Microsoft (or another cloud provider) worry about all of that. At this point, though, that's not a new or cutting edge idea. We've been helping companies move some or all of their data and applications to the Cloud for years now.
Here are some quick facts for you:
- 1.2 billion people use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) everyday
- 400 million devices are running Windows 10 (released about 2 years ago)
- There are 669,000 apps in the Windows Store (with hundreds being added everyday)
- 80% of Fortune 500 companies use the Microsoft Cloud
The real transformation isn’t about just moving your server to the cloud – it’s about using the cloud to allow you to work more efficiently. Getting the right applications in place (and actually using them!) will allow your employees to be productive and get more done. With the Cloud, they can do this from any location and any device.
So, what should you be doing to keep up with this restructuring?
If you’re email isn’t already in the cloud, that's step one. This is often the most logical and easiest entry point into the Cloud for businesses. Step two is using SharePoint and OneDrive as a file repository, content management system, and a collaboration platform.
Step three is to find and use the cloud based apps that make your working life easier and more secure. This will be dependent on your particular company and industry.
If you’re looking for some apps to get your feet wet, I’d recommend some of Microsoft's newest offerings:
Microsoft Teams – Microsoft calls it a “chat based workspace.” It brings together conversations (think Facebook’s Newsfeed), Documents (using SharePoint), and a OneNote page for easy note taking. It's similar to Slack, but integrates with Office 365 for a much more seamless experience.
Dynamics 365 – This is Microsoft's middle ground between an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and a customer relationship management (CRM) software. It's a set of business apps to manage almost every aspect of your business: Sales, Customer Service, Operations, Financials, Field Service, Project Services, and Marketing.
There are many, many more. These are just two of Microsoft's latest and greatest.
We don't advocate using new technology and apps just to say you're doing it - that's a waste of money. But moving some or all of your data to the Cloud and finding the right applications for you can transform your business for the better.