Microsoft 365 is a rich and complex solution. Over a million organisations use it worldwide, but very few are actually taking advantage of all the functionality it offers.
Consequently, the vast majority of organisations that subscribe to Microsoft 365 are missing out on opportunities to improve their IT security, reduce their IT costs, tighten compliance with data security policies and improve employee productivity.
What is Microsoft 365?
Described by Microsoft as a “productivity cloud”, Microsoft 365 is the new name for Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription service that brings together all of Microsoft’s applications, including Exchange, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint and Teams, in one online platform.
IT managers are very familiar with these office applications, but rarely appreciate what else Microsoft 365 can do.
Microsoft 365 also offers a range of intelligent management services and performance dashboards that are often overlooked.
IT managers need to ask themselves, are we using Microsoft 365 intelligently to improve user productivity and make cost savings? Are we using Microsoft 365 to monitor and improve our security and manage user identities? And are we using Microsoft 365 to tighten compliance with company policies and regulations?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, they are missing out on huge opportunities.
Benefits of Microsoft 365
There are five key benefits that organisations frequently miss out on, by not taking full advantage of the functionality offered by Microsoft 365.
1. Improved Security
Microsoft 365 is not as secure as people think it is. New vulnerabilities are constantly emerging, and organisations need to proactively monitor and manage the security of their Microsoft 365 environments every day.
Microsoft 365 includes a security dashboard that looks at everything from data privacy to user authentication and calculates a security score out of 1000. This score can be benchmarked against other companies in the same industry and against best practices, to help organisations improve their score and reinforce the security of their Microsoft 365 environments.
2. Reduced Licensing Costs
When organisations buy Microsoft 365 for Business or Enterprise, they frequently adopt a one-license-fits-all approach and acquire a Business Premium or Enterprise E5 licenses for all employees.
In truth, not all employees will need these top-level licenses. For example, frontline workers, who work remotely, may only need a Business Basic or Enterprise F3 licence, which are much less expensive.
Organisations can use analytical tools within Microsoft 365 to evaluate which employees need which licenses or indeed no licenses. These tools will show if a company hasn’t decommissioned a license for a user who has left the business or is off on extended leave.
In Camwood’s experience, large organisations can typically reduce their license costs by 30%, by better managing the allocation of licenses.
3. Reduced Risk from Improved User Access Management
When user identities are not properly managed in Microsoft 365 environments, there is an increased risk of unauthorised system access.
Microsoft 365 includes an identity management dashboard that allows IT managers to better manage the health of the Microsoft Active Directory and set up multi-factor authentication, as well as identify risky users and risky sign-ins.
Using this dashboard and related tools, IT managers can instigate measures to verify that users are who they say they are. If all users are in the UK, they can block users from other countries and apply a more effective, data-driven approach to managing user access.
4. Increased Compliance
Most organisations, particularly those in the public sector, have to comply with a range of legislative or industry regulations including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the requirements of ISO accreditations.
Microsoft 365 has a compliance management dashboard, through which organisations can conduct routine and ad hoc compliance assessments. Using this dashboard, IT managers can, for example, gain a complete overview of who has access to what data and what needs to be done consistently to keep personal data secure. Most organisations don’t realise this incredibly useful functionality is available in the platform.
5. Improved Employee Productivity
At a time when many employees are working some or all of the time from home, it can be hard for managers to support them and help them to work more productively.
Microsoft 365 includes endpoint analytics, enabling IT managers to see if individual devices are taking ten minutes to boot up and why. They can then use this information to upgrade underperforming devices and save employees’ time.
Equally, Microsoft 365 includes productivity tools, which organisations can use to better understand how users are interacting with Microsoft 365.
Managers can then show employees how their jobs could be made easier and help them to use the right applications in the best way. For example, not all employees may be using all the features of Teams.
There are unfortunately many obstacles to using the dashboards and analytical tools within Microsoft 365.
Firstly, many IT managers don’t know how to use them. Others simply don’t have the time to use them, and training or acquiring more IT staff specifically to leverage these tools is costly.
Furthermore, the various dashboards and analytical tools offered by Microsoft are not grouped in the same place, making them easy to miss.
So, while the platform can provide incredible insight into security, identities, productivity, licenses and compliance, this insight can be hard to find and even harder to act upon.
To address this, organisations should consider seeking help from a managed services provider with strong expertise in this area. A managed services provider can bring together information from all Microsoft 365 dashboards and analytical tools and provide a clear picture of the overall Microsoft 365 platform health.
Experienced partners will then also be able to use the analysis to provide a clear roadmap of things that each organisation can do to improve their security, licensing, user productivity and more. In this way, insight becomes ‘actionable insight’, as organisations can see all the opportunities that are unique to them and understand how and when to take action.
If you are using Microsoft 365 for Business, Enterprise or Education, it is important to remember that you are already paying for these dashboards and analytical tools as part of your subscription.
If you are not leveraging them, you are not only missing out on opportunities to improve your security, reduce costs and optimise employee productivity; you are also missing out on the opportunity to get maximum value from your investment in Microsoft 365.
Looking to make the most of the benefits of Microsoft 365? Get a free, no-commitment assessment tailored to your business.