Microsoft Office 365: what is important for business to know about the “cloud-based” office?

Cloud-based service Microsoft Office 365 has become more and more popular solution for managing document workflow in companies.

“MS Office has virtually no rivals with its volume of functionality and compatibility of the document formats”

 Subsequently, the number of MS Office 365 subscribers is growing by tens percent every year. For instance in the third quarter of 2015 the cloud-based services Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM became the principal drivers of the profit markup of Microsoft.

Office 365: what is going on at the market?

Offline version of MS Office has actually not many competitors with the comparable functionality. LibreOffice, OpenOffice, CorelOffice etc. may be referred among them. But if you examine the cross-platform solutions for the offline document editing, MS Office has virtually no rivals with its volume of functionality and compatibility of the document formats.

Costs of the full-fledged package MS Office 365 (including its cloud-based capacities) and the offline version of MS Office 2013/2016 for the home users are comparable. Therefore the progressive transition of the majority of users to MS Office 365 may be forecasted.

Currently the primary market spreading the MS Office 365 services is the corporate sector. However soon, due to the flexible pricing policy of Microsoft, new home users will progressively give their preference to MS Office 365.

Rise of popularity of the off-the-shelf Microsoft solutions in the corporate sector, especially in the midst of the small and mid-sized business, is also expected. Integration of MS Office 365 with SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Skype, OneDrive, PowerBIand Lync Online allows the full-scaled employment of the MS stack for document management and solution of other company tasks (video conferences, corporate mail, team-work with documents, data monitoring and analyze etc.).

Microsoft 365 vs Google Apps

As regards the cloud-based capacities of MS Office 365 it is not alone at the market. Its sole and major competitor here is Google Apps.

Microsoft has one essential advantage over Google  ample opportunities of the MS Office 365 integration with its other services for work with documents and the document sets management. Stack of Microsoft offers some unique solutions. These are for example solutions based on MS SharePoint Online and the full-scaled integration of MS Office 2013/2016 with OneDrive Pro.

At the same time the cost of subscription to MS Office 365 is higher compared to Google Apps for Works, especially for the entry-level subscription plans. Range of prices for the Microsoft services is from $6 to $15 per month for one user.

Now most of the users use Google Apps for online editing, publishing and sharing of small documents. However Google cannot handle the collaborative editing of large documents and it forces the users to seek alternative options.

Google Apps for Works does not offer big business the same set of functions as MS Office 365 can, while handling most of the small business tasks.

It is most likely that MS Office 365 and Google Apps will further share the different segments of the market. Both sets of services will be employed by the users depending on the task types and the personal preferences.

Increase of the interest to MS Office 365 on part of those who use the offline version of MS Office 365 and OS Windows 10 is also expected. This is favored by the aggressive Microsoft policy in promotion of its software set.

Specifics of transition to Office 365

With regards to the pitfalls and the specifics of transition to MS Office 365, it is necessary to take account of specifics among two audiences:

1.Home users. As regards the home PC users, abandoning the familiar software set (Dropbox, GoogleApps, GoogleDrive, mail etc.) and transitioning to the MS Office 365 services will be complicated for them. Another complicated point is the necessity of transition to MS services for those users intending  to the shared use of MS Office 365.2

Corporate users. As regards the corporate users, two factors are of great importance here: cost of software and integration of the existing systems with the MS Office 365 services and training or the search of specialists for maintenance and administration of all services used.

Why Office 365 has good prospects?

There are three essential reasons why Office 365 will be highly demanded by business:

- Business currently needs services for collaborative editing of the huge documents as well as for arrangement and management of their ample quantities; provision of the required safety level in the document workflow systems without additional expenses.

Set of the Microsoft services and its integration with MS Office 365 offer solution for these tasks with some minor reservations.

-Integration of MS Office 365 with existing services and employment of the off-the-shelf Microsoft solutions for organization of the document workflow are also the promising trends.

-Good results can be expected from employment of the cloud-based Azure platform for extension of the MS Office 365 capacities and building process setup and document workflow systems in the small and mid-sized business environment.

Recommendations to companies for the software development

Companies should pay attention to development of software for their own use, operating under Microsoft Azure and SharePoint as an extension of the MS Office 365 capacities.

Business should think about transfer of the existing document workflow systems to Azure for their further integration with MS Office 365 and employment of the Microsoft services as the SaaS platform.

It is important to follow development of the MS Azure+SharePoint+Office 365 combination. This is a promising trend in the domain of the document workflow and the shared use of large documents as well as in generation of new solutions on this base.

How else can Microsoft influence business?

MS Office 365 is not the only software product which can influence business. After the announcement of the cross-platform for .NetCore development by Microsoft emergence of the MS stack based services can be anticipated in the most unexpected domains and platforms (e.g., UNIX, Apple OS and other families).

Release of Microsoft .NetCore, Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 IoT will certainly result in growth of the Microsoft services including MSOffice 365, Azure and SharePoint.