Yesterday I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Office 365 press release, where Steve Ballmer and Kirk Koeningsbauer did a presentation on the new features of Office 365 and how they relate to the business. The event was a large networking event, with a press release in the middle. This gave the attendees an opportunity to really interact with others and then also to interact with many different representatives from Microsoft. Several demo stations were set up to show off the new features and several customers who were using the new features were on hand to give firsthand accounts of how they are working with Office 365. For anyone who missed the press release you can still access it online.
The event seemed to focus mostly on providing small – medium organizations the same tools and solutions that are available to larger, enterprise organizations. The goal is providing them first in class tools for productivity and efficiency for use within the workplace. Office 365 does just that. With very little upfront investment and configuration they can immediately start using the full benefits of Office 365, which includes Outlook, Lync and SharePoint Online. Steve Ballmer repeatedly commented on how the experience working with Office 365 should be the same experience that a user has with the existing Office suite, the idea being to give them another tool that is similar to the existing tools that they already use in day to day operations.
The best example from the day, that I personally had the opportunity to hear about, was the 2 employee team from Beau’s insurance. They are a husband / wife insurance company located in Ohio. They are using Office 365 to remove paper from their process and to streamline the services they provide. When I asked Kerri her favorite feature from Office 365 she replied with a laugh about how much paper had been reduced and how much it simplified her day to day activities. They are about as small as you come when it comes to an organization and they found out quickly how much they could do with Office 365. Jeffery has been working with the beta since early on and is pretty excited to dig in and learn even more about the functionality available in SharePoint Online. I of course was ready to chat all about SharePoint with them If you want to read more about their story, check out their case study on the Microsoft website.
So many different organizations now have the opportunity to really take advantage of some tools that otherwise might not have been as easily available to them. And now that Office 365 is available in production, it is time to dig in and get started! Listed below are just some of the resources to help you as you get started:
- Office 365 Website
- Office 365 Plans
- Office 365 Community
- Office 365 Forums – Don’t know how to do something? Search here to see if the answer exists, if not ask it. If you have a question, others likely have the same one!
- Office 365 SharePoint Online Forums – I spend lots of time here answering SharePoint specific questions.
- Office 365 Grid Blog – Look here for Posts from Community Contributors
- Office 365 Online Training & Support – Look for “Applies to SharePoint Online”
Office 365 Case Studies – Read about what others are doing and get some ideas of your own.
I have been working with the beta for a while now and I can personally say that I am really excited about the future of Office 365 and the impact that it will have on small and medium business. It will be great to see all of the new stories that result from new companies doing things that they weren’t able to do before. Makes me think back a few years to when people were just getting started with SharePoint and how much of a game changer it was to the organization.
Here are some of the other shots from the event, all in all it was a great event and I was very happy to be included and hear firsthand about Office 365.