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Why I changed my Twitter handle from @sharepointtony to @office365tony

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I’ve been a SharePoint evangelist since the dawn of its time – 2001. Since then my whole working life has revolved around it.

Words can’t begin to describe our relationship – the best I can do is equate it to the plotline from ‘An Officer and a Gentlemen’. At first I was misguided and without a true sense of purpose.  Then I met SharePoint and everything seemed to make sense.

On Twitter I’m known as @SharePointtony

Not any more.

Now I’m @Office365tony. Because I think I might just be a little more in love with Microsoft Office 365 than SharePoint.

Why is that?

Firstly it’s such an underrated product, and I do love an underdog.

A lot of IT providers use the line, “You can host your email in the Cloud,” as the compelling reason to move your organisation to Office 365. I was the same when I first saw it in 2011 - I saw it as simply email, downloadable Word, and a bit of SharePoint.

It wasn’t enough to tempt me away, and I continued to demonstrate SharePoint in isolation as a document management, form, workflow and collaboration platform. With email integration.

As Office 365 evolved, it expanded its functionality massively. I tried to ignore it, but it soon became clear that I could do no such thing. My demo platform moved from a virtual machine to Office 365, and whilst I initially focussed on SharePoint (sites as they were currently presented in Office 365), over time I started to include Skype for Business and Office web apps. Now there’s a whole lot more that goes into my demos.

You may be thinking this is some sort of ultimate betrayal. I’ve left Paula (SharePoint) for the new recruit.

However, when you look at where SharePoint is going, and how it has become an intrinsic part of the Office 365 mix working together with other applications, you can see where Microsoft’s head is at. They are very focussed they are on helping businesses make significant improvements in the way they work.

Having seen previews of Planner, Power Apps, Logic Flow and SharePoint Mobile (details of these below) it’s time for me to bite the bullet and become an evangelist of the Office 365 Productivity Suite (aka Office 365).

SharePoint has become even better with a medley of productivity products by its side – which all come with Office 365.

As usual you can ignore the names of the products – it’s the functionality that counts.

So in addition to email in the Cloud, how can Office 365 help your business?

To make things simple and to give you a business case example, let’s say we are an organisation with a number of offices across the UK which will be undergoing refurbishment…how can the various elements of Office 365 support this project?

  • Planner takes the chaos that can arise out of teamwork. With planner we could create a new plan/project and an associated SharePoint site where we can share and manage the project documents, tasks and timeline in a really collaborative, integrated fashion. With the Sharing Option we can include external parties in our Project Site, allowing them to be fully immersed in the project environment.

  • Power Apps provide mobile multi-device forms which integrate data into Office 365. With a Power App we could implement a snagging list which users could contribute to via desktop, tablet or mobile while in or out of the office.

  • Flow provides an intuitive Business Process Workflow solution which is fully integrated into Office 365. With Flow we could initiate an email to the Project Manager / Contractor when new items are added to the snagging list…although trust me we can use Flow to deal with much more complex scenarios and business automation.

  • Delve provides a dashboard view of what is most important to you, such as recent documents you have worked on, and emails which are relevant to your work and relevant to new information in the Office 365 environment.
  • OneDrive provides local synchronisation of documents stored in SharePoint, providing offline access. Gone are the days when we would have to print off the project specification and roll up the CAD files, only to find when we get to site we do not have all the documents required for our site meeting.
  • Office Web Apps provide light versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint via you browser. This enables users to view and edit documents on devices which do not have a local copy of Office installed. As long as your device has an internet connection your documents are accessible.
  • OneNote can be used to capture notes on any of your devices, and share them with colleagues.

So we have a single environment supporting our Project Management, Team Collaboration, Document Management, Forms and Workflow and Accessibility….

The Microsoft Office 365 Productivity Suite. I’ve at last been lifted up where I belong.

**If you’re in or around London on the 23rd of June and want to see transformational technologies such as these in action, I’d really encourage you to come along to our futuretech conference. I’ve been told that spaces are going very fast for this, so do book online now to secure your seat.**

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