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Office 365 – It’s just a licensing strategy right?

No matter whether your organisation is a large corporate, government department, SME or not-for-profit, you’ve probably had Office 365 for a number of years.

It’s also very likely that the original strategy for purchasing Office 365, instead of Office 2013 or Office 2016, was merely a licensing strategy. It was the cheaper way to access the MS Office suite, so you made the switch. At the time, neither your procurement department or the business cared about the additional cloud-based functionality and apps, you just needed MS Office and it was cheaper to buy Office 365.

This narrow thinking though has inadvertently contributed to an unintended consequence – Shadow IT.


The rise of Shadow IT

So your organisation deployed Office 2013 or 2016 on-premises and your Exchange instance was migrated to the cloud as it required less infrastructure and less manpower to maintain it. To your users, things were largely the same, but it didn’t mean you were cloud deployed.

Over this same period though, we saw the rise of cloud and mobile with the app culture really taking off; all of which directly contributed to the rise of Shadow IT. Business units that were previously forced to wait for IT to investigate and implement new software over months and sometimes years, could now take matters into their own hands and just subscribe to a new cloud app such as Dropbox, Slack or a cloud based CRM like Sugar, and use it immediately. So, while IT delivered by the organisation remained the same, the IT tools that users were consuming changed considerably.

As a result, productivity, efficiency and collaboration have gone up but unfortunately at the increased risk of security. Potentially confidential information is being stored in unknown locations, or distributed and accessed by unapproved and uncontrolled applications and people. It is also often “out of sight” of the IT team and can still be accessed by staff once they have left an organisation.

The irony is, business users go to shadow IT apps to get the tools they feel they need, yet they are already paying for many of these tools with their Office 365 licence. Tools that facilitate mobile working and cloud-based collaboration across all their work and personal devices.

Taking another look at Office 365

When was the last time you took a close look at what’s now included in the various Office 365 bundles? With new capabilities such as Planner, Power BI and Teams, along with advances in apps such as OneDrive for Business, Yammer and Skype for Business, how many “unapproved” apps could be blocked in favour of capabilities that are tightly integrated and already included in your current subscriptions? Not to mention that these IT sanctioned offerings provide a mechanism to regain control of corporate data.

Have a look at this ebook that showcases some of these technologies.

It really is time to take another look at the capabilities you’re paying for and work out how to implement them internally. That doesn’t mean letting business units simply ditch one Shadow IT app for an Office 365 one. That has the potential to create digital chaos, so it is important to have a planned approach to leveraging Office 365 apps.  There are key steps required for a successful implementation of Office 365.

What does successful adoption of Office 365 require?

Key elements of adopting Office 365 are Organisational Change Management and user training – there will always be various groups within your organisation that have different attitudes and motivations to embrace new technology. C-suite endorsement is also an important factor in successful adoption by the business.

We also recommend that you don’t need to implement everything in your Office 365 bundle. Start small and address your most pressing business challenge.

For example, RACQ had an urgent need for their 2,500 employees to be more connected, engaged and informed so worked with us to deploy Yammer throughout the business with great effect.

The Department of Justice in Tasmania used video and web conferencing extensively so they chose Skype for Business after working through a thorough assessment of their requirements and the available tools and technologies.

In each case, they worked with Data#3 to first understand their own requirements and assess the capabilities of Office 365 to ensure the right solution was chosen. We then helped them to create and deliver an Organisational Change Plan ensuring user training and communications were in place from the outset of the project.

The power of Office 365 apps lies in their tight integration with each other. This enables cloud-based collaboration, mobile working, a single source of truth and the opportunity to revise and improve business processes – all while providing an alternative to Shadow IT.

Data#3 can give you a bigger picture view of what is possible with Office 365 and assist with the transition so you can truly get value from your licensing subscription.

Tags: Microsoft, Shadow IT, Collaboration, Business Productivity, Business Productivity Services, Microsoft Office 365, Training & Adoption, Project Services

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