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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Microsoft Power BI and Office 365 analytics

As machine learning, digital storage, and analytics software get more advanced, data is becoming more valuable than ever. Even businesses that don’t rely on data to operate are starting to find ways to get more value out of their information. Microsoft’s newest platform is an excellent example of that -- and it’s free!

What is Power BI?

Released in the spring of 2016, Power BI is Microsoft’s business analytics platform. Regardless of whether or not data is stored within a Microsoft platform, connecting Power BI to a database allows you to create detailed graphs, charts, maps, and more. For example, if you upload sales records, dragging and dropping two columns is all it takes to map out where your product sees the most demand.

Recently, Microsoft announced a brand new feature for business owners who want to get more value out of their software subscriptions. The Office 365 adoption content pack collects information about how your employees use Microsoft productivity software, and feeds it directly into Power BI’s analytics. There are four types of insights you can work with:

Adoption

These metrics give you visibility into how much each O365 platform is being used. You may be paying for OneDrive accounts for the entire organization, only for Power BI to reveal that less than a quarter of your team is using it. Compare enabled users and active users to get a clearer picture of your investments.

Communication

You can also see exactly how employees are using communication solutions. If nearly everyone on the team is accessing Skype for Business from a mobile data connection, it might be time to reduce your investments in cellular-based minutes.

Collaboration

Microsoft has several collaboration platforms, and without proper guidance, employees are likely to use the easiest one rather than the best one. Power BI shows you how much time users spend time in their own Word, PowerPoint, and SharePoint documents compared to the time they spend in documents from colleagues. This shows you which platforms encourage the most collaboration and which ones are struggling.

Activation

- The activation insights give you under-the-hood visibility into which versions of O365 users are running, and what devices they use to access them. That may seem like trivial information, but it can have huge impacts on cyber security.

Power BI comes in three different plans: Desktop, Pro, and Premium. Best of all, both the Desktop plan and the Office 365 adoption content pack are totally free. If you like what you see, consider enlisting us to set up and optimize either a Pro or Premium Power BI deployment -- we’re only a phone call away!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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6 more Office 365 productivity tricks

By now, you’re probably familiar with popular Office 365 productivity features like Skype for Business, and real-time collaboration in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You might even remember a few time-saving keyboard shortcuts that will make your Office 365 experience a lot smoother. But even after all that, there’s still much to learn about Office 365. Here are some more tricks that can boost your productivity.

Declutter your inboxIf you’re having trouble managing the overwhelming amount of emails in your inbox, then using Office 365’s “Clutter” feature can clear up some space. To enable this feature go to Settings > Options > Mail > Automatic processing > Clutter then select Separate items identified as Clutter. Once activated, you need to mark any unwanted messages as “clutter” to teach Office 365. After learning your email preferences, Office 365 will automatically move low-priority messages into your “Clutter” folder, helping you focus on more important emails.

Ignore group emailsAre you copied on a long email thread you don’t want to be part of? If so, simply go to the message and find the Ignore setting. Doing this will automatically move future reply-alls to the trash so they never bother you again. Of course, if you ever changed your mind, you could un-ignore the message: Just find the email in your trash folder and click Stop ignoring.

Unsend emailsIn case you sent a message to the wrong recipient or attached the wrong file, Office 365 has a message recall function. To use this, open your sent message, click Actions, and select Recall this message. From here, you can either “Delete unread copies of this message” or “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message.” Bear in mind that this applies only to unread messages and for Outlook users within the same company domain.

Work offlineWhenever you’re working outside the office or in an area with unstable internet, it’s a good idea to enable Offline Access. Found under the Settings menu, this feature allows you to continue working on documents offline and syncs any changes made when you have an internet connection. Offline access is also available in your SharePoint Online document libraries.

Use Outlook pluginsAside from sending and receiving emails, Outlook also has some awesome third-party plugins. Some of our favorite integrations include PayPal, which allows you to send money securely via email; and Uber, which lets you set up an Uber ride reminder for any calendar event. Find more of productivity-boosting plugins in the Office Store.

Tell Office applications what to doIf you’re not a fan of sifting through menus and options, you can always take advantage of the Tell Me function in your Office 2016 apps. When you press Alt + Q, you bring up a search bar that allows you to look for the functions you need. Suppose you need to put a wall of text into columns on Word but can’t find where it is specifically. Just type ‘column’ and Microsoft will help you with the rest.

These tricks and features themselves will definitely increase productivity. And fortunately, there’s, there’s more coming. Microsoft continues to expand Office 365’s capabilities, and if you truly want to make the most out of the software, don’t be afraid to explore its newly released features.

For more Office 365 tips and updates, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How to reduce data loss in Office 365

For businesses, the security of sensitive data is critical. If this information is lost or stolen, it could lead to crippling financial losses, legal disputes, and more importantly, loss of customer trust. And while those of you with Microsoft Office 365 installed have some security and compliance tools, there are still some data protection best practices you need to consider. Here are seven of them:

Take advantage of policy alertsEstablishing policy notifications in Office 365’s Compliance Center can help you meet your company’s data security obligations. For instance, policy tips can warn employees about sending confidential information anytime they’re about to send messages to contacts who aren’t listed in the company network. These preemptive warnings can prevent data leaks and also educate users on safer data sharing practices.

Secure mobile devicesWith the growing trend of using personal smartphones and tablets to access work email, calendar, contacts, and documents, securing mobile devices is now a critical part of protecting your organization’s data. Installing mobile device management features for Office 365 enables you to manage security policies and access rules, and remotely wipe sensitive data from mobile devices if they’re lost or stolen.

Use multi-factor authenticationBecause of the growing sophistication of today’s cyberattacks, a single password shouldn’t be the only safeguard for Office 365 accounts. To reduce account hijacking instances, you must enable Office 365 multi-factor authentication. This feature makes it more difficult for hackers to access your account since they not only have to guess user passwords but also provide a second authentication factor like a temporary SMS code.

Apply session timeoutsMany employees usually forget to log out of their Office 365 accounts and keep their computers or mobile devices unlocked. This could give unauthorized users unfettered access to company accounts, allowing them to compromise sensitive data. But by applying session timeouts to Office 365, email accounts, and internal networks, the system will automatically log users out after 10 minutes, preventing hackers from simply opening company workstations and accessing private information.

Avoid public calendar sharingOffice 365 calendar sharing features allows employees to share and sync their schedules with their colleagues. However, publicly sharing this schedule is a bad idea. Enabling public calendar sharing helps attackers understand how your company works, determine who’s away, and identify your most vulnerable users. For instance, if security administrators are publicly listed as “Away on vacation,” an attacker may see this as an opportunity to unleash a slew of malware attacks to corrupt your data before your business can respond.

Employ role-based access controlsAnother Office 365 feature that will limit the flow of sensitive data across your company is access management. This lets you determine which user (or users) have access to specific files in your company. For example, front-of-house staff won’t be able to read or edit executive-level documents, minimizing data leaks.

Encrypt emailsEncrypting classified information is your last line of defense to secure your data. Should hackers intercept your emails, encryption tools will make files unreadable to unauthorized recipients. This is a must-have for Office 365, where files and emails are shared on a regular basis.

While Office 365 offers users the ability to share data and collaborate flexibly, you must be aware of the potential data security risks at all times. When you work with us, we will make sure your business keeps up with ever-changing data security and compliance obligations. And if you need help securing your Office 365, we can help with that too! Simply contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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More security features for Office 365

Microsoft has commercially released new products and upgrades that will secure company information. The threat intelligence and data governance features are designed for businesses that adhere to strict regulatory guidelines and need an extra layer of protection against cyberattacks. Here’s a detailed look at what these additions can do for your business.

Threat IntelligenceThreat Intelligence for Office 365 gathers data from Microsoft security databases, Office clients, email, and other recorded security incidents to detect various cyberattacks. This feature gives users in-depth knowledge about prevalent malware strains and real-time breach information to analyze the severity of certain attacks.

What’s more, Threat Intelligence comes with customizable threat alert notifications and easy-to-use remediation options for dealing with suspicious content.

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) upgradesIn addition to Threat Intelligence, Office 365’s ATP service now has a revamped reporting dashboard that displays security insights across a company. This includes a security summary of what types of malware and spam were sent to your organization, and which ones were blocked. According to Microsoft, these reports will help you assess the effectiveness of your current security infrastructure.

ATP also has a new capability called “Safe Links” which defends against potentially malicious links in emails and embedded in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files. If suspicious links are discovered, the user will be redirected to a warning page to avoid an infection.

Advanced Data GovernanceThe newly released Advanced Data Governance feature is also a much needed enhancement for highly-regulated companies. It classifies files based on user interaction, age, and type, and recommends general data retention and deletion policy recommendations. If, for example, your business has retained credit card data for longer than necessary, Advanced Data Governance will alert you of the possible data governance risks.

Data loss prevention enhancementsLast but not least, the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center is also receiving data loss prevention upgrades. With it, you can easily access and customize app permissions and control device and content security policies. So if someone in your company attempts to leak sensitive customer information, Office 365 will notify your administrators immediately.

Although all these features are available only for Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscribers, security- and compliance-conscious companies definitely need these upgrades. Get the right Office 365 subscription by contacting us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Did Microsoft commit a security breach?

In case you didn’t know, Microsoft provides Office 365 users with a free document-sharing platform called docs.com. It’s a great new tool for publishing files intended for public viewing. The downside is, sensitive documents are published without the file owners’ permission. These include hundreds of users who might be unaware that their private files can be viewed by the public.

What’s the damage?

Usernames and passwords for various devices and applications; personal information such as home and email addresses, bank account details, social security numbers, and phone numbers; and medical info comprising patient treatment data and health insurance numbers -- all these were some of the supposedly leaked documents, which were clearly meant to be private. A security researcher discovered that these sensitive files were accessible using docs.com’s search function.

After being alerted to the ‘leak,’ Microsoft responded by removing the search bar. However, most of the documents were already indexed by search engines, Google and Bing, which is how these docs remained available to the public despite disabling the search function.

Recent updates

To alleviate the damage, Microsoft launched an update that limited what users can do to uploaded files, such as restricting files to a read-only status. Although buttons to ‘like,’ download, add to collections, and share in social media are enabled, only users who enter an email address, phone number, or sign in using their Office or Microsoft account can perform any of these functions. Since anyone can easily create a Microsoft account, docs.com users may not feel at ease.

Microsoft’s final word

Docs.com is easy-to-use and is valuable to those eager to publish their documents. The site’s user-friendliness also makes it a popular choice for Office 365 users who wish to ‘spread their work to the world.’ Office 365 users can easily upload from their own computer, OneDrive, or Sway account, and share away. Being a free service also adds a lot of incentive for users to upload their Word, Excel, or any other file onto the site.

In an effort to solve glaring privacy issues, Microsoft has issued some key updates, such as a warning message reminding users that the document to be uploaded will be publicly available on the web. While it may seem like Microsoft committed a blunder, a stricter privacy setting and a few stronger, more visible warnings to users can help make docs.com a useful productivity tool rather than a hacker’s hunting ground.

Discerning Office 365 users can make the most out of docs.com, but they should use the service with caution. If you’ve uploaded documents with sensitive information on docs.com, now is the best time to remove them from the site, or review your privacy settings here and in other document-sharing services.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, or want to learn more about this and other Microsoft products and services, call us now for advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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MyAnalytics: O365’s productivity coach

Installing software that immediately boosts employee efficiency is any small- or medium-sized business owner’s dream. With Office 365’s newest dashboard -- that’s exactly what you’re getting. And best of all, it’s directly integrated with your existing productivity suite. Read on to learn more.

What is MyAnalytics?

Microsoft’s newest productivity offering is all about applying machine learning technology to your employees’ Office 365 data. By utilizing extremely powerful computing processes to analyze huge blocks of information, MyAnalytics can uncover trends and correlations that may be too complex for human discovery.

Every day, Office 365 users create several thousand new data points across Microsoft’s productivity suite, and there’s a lot of potential to rearrange meetings, project goals, and employee tasks to increase efficiency.

The most obvious improvement is with Outlook calendar. MyAnalytics tracks how long you’re spending with each person in your office as well as the time you’re investing in specific projects. After sufficient information has been gathered, your Office 365 dashboard will begin coaching you on how to organize meetings and project goals based on your habits and past successes.

How can it improve your office?

Have you ever worked on a huge project that required multiple contributors? Did you all meet regularly to update each other on progress? Users who add contacts -- from both inside the company and out -- and projects to MyAnalytics get reminders to stay in touch with co-workers most vital to project completion.

Every metric tracked by MyAnalytics can be shared with your team to make sure everyone is on the same page. So MyAnalytics is more than just a motivational tool, because sharing these metrics allows your team to identify bottlenecks and trends to smooth the workflow process.

Response time is another key metric your employees are probably only vaguely aware of. MyAnalytics calculates average email response times -- both from you and from contacts -- to identify what time of day you’re best at communicating, and how you can adapt your schedule to get more work done in the same amount of time.

Privacy concerns

One of the greatest things about MyAnalytics is that it doesn’t introduce any new privacy concerns for business owners. All the data it uses to create customized coaching and advice is publicly available to everyone at your business -- via calendar appointments, email content, and message timestamps. The only difference is that Microsoft is lending you the previously prohibitive computing power to sift through all of it.

Availability

This wonderful new tool comes free with any Enterprise E5 plan, but can also be added on to E1 and E3 Enterprise plans for just a few dollars per month.

Increasing employee productivity is never as clear cut as it is with MyAnalytics. Install a solution, follow its advice, and start brainstorming about what to do with all your extra time. We’ve got plenty of other great solutions for streamlining your business processes -- call us today to find out!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Which Office 365 model is right for you?

From Word to SharePoint, Office 365 has a lot offer. But each business requires different features from Office 365. Some may prioritize business analytics, while others may be content with no more than the productivity suite and Outlook. If you’re planning to deploy Office 365, first consider your business needs, then use the information below to find out which license is right for you.

Business or Enterprise?If you’re running a cloud-first business, you’ll have to decide between Office 365 Business and Enterprise. Both may have access to Office Online and OneDrive, but there are some notable differences between the plan.

For one, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 plans have unlimited archive and mail storage space, while Business plans have a 50-GB storage limit and don’t provide archive access from the Outlook client.

When it comes to SharePoint, Business plans are short on enterprise search, Excel services, and Visio features. Additionally, unified communication solutions, Power BI, and Delve analytics are also missing from the Office 365 Business offering.

Although it may seem like Enterprise subscriptions are superior -- and in some ways they are -- Business plans are perfect for smaller companies running on a tight budget. Office 365 Business and Business Premium cost $10 and $15 per user per month respectively, while E5, the biggest Enterprise plan, costs $35 per user per month.

As a general rule, start looking for Enterprise plans when your employee headcount exceeds 50 people and users require more storage space and solutions.

E1, E3, or E5?If you do opt for Office 365 Enterprise plans, you’ll have to examine the features and choose one of three plans (E1, E3, and E5) that suits your needs.

E1 offers basic enterprise solutions such as Outlook and Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Excel online for only $8 per user per month. Apart from this, users also get access to SharePoint Team sites, video conferencing, and Yammer for enterprise social media.

E3 provides all E1 features and adds data loss prevention, rights management, and encryption to ensure business security and compliance. While E5 is a full enterprise-grade solution with all the aforementioned features plus analytics tools, advanced threat protection, flexible Skype for Business conferencing, and unified communication solutions.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises will usually select either E1 or E3 subscriptions and decide to add third-party applications to meet cloud security and VoIP demands. But if you have the resources and prefer a fully-managed suite of Microsoft applications, E5 plans are the way to go.

Migrating to an Office 365 platform is a big step, and if you’re still undecided about which plan to opt for, contact us today. We don’t just provide Office 365, we assess your business and find the best solution that meets your budget and objectives.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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G Suite vs. Office 365

Google and Microsoft have both set impressive milestones in the tech industry. These industry giants continually roll out innovative solutions that simplify the lives of users around the world, especially with G Suite and Office 365. This raises a question: Which is a better option for your business?

Cost and commitmentG Suite offers two pricing plans: $5 and $10 per user per month. The $5 plan offers company email addresses, video and voice calls, integrated online calendars, online documents, presentations and spreadsheets and more.

The $10 plan offers all the features of the $5 plan plus unlimited storage or 1TB per user for less than 5 members, advanced admin control panel for Google Drive, and audit and reporting insights for Drive content and sharing, to name a few.

  • Office 365 offers a number of pricing plans, including:
  • Office 365 Business Essentials ($5.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Business ($8.25 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50 per user per month)
  • Office 365 ProPlus ($12.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1 ($8.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 ($20.00 per user per month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E5 ($35.00 per user per month)
We’ll compare two plans from Office 365 with the same pricing as G Suite below; you can find more details about Office 365’s other plans here.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials will cost $5 per user per month with annual subscription. Monthly subscription will cost $6 per user per month, meaning you’ll save $1 user per month with G Suite.
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1 will cost $2 less than G Suite’s $10 plan
Applications

Google Apps are designed for cloud-based collaboration. For instance, Google Docs lets you make permanent changes in the file or provide feedback using “suggestion” mode. Other advanced features in G Suite include machine intelligence in Google Calendar (which helps you find a time when invitees are free), Dynamic layout suggestions in Google Slides, and better file management and granular content ownership.

Microsoft apps, on the other hand, are designed based on desktop versions of their products with enhanced cloud capability -- you’ll be able to use cloud versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and more while still being able to work offline. More advanced integration with Microsoft’s cloud solutions like SharePoint, Dynamic CRM, and Azure are also available.

Security

G Suite leverages machine learning capabilities to detect suspicious logins and block most advanced types of spam. It automatically scans every email attachment before you download it to prevent the spread of viruses.

Office 365 utilizes Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), a new email filtering service that targets specific advanced threats like unknown malware and viruses in real time to protect against malicious URLs.

Email

While both Office 365 and G Suite offer a clean interface, the difference lies in the way emails are organized. Gmail lets you apply multiple labels to an email and offers 30GB of storage space across Gmail and Drive.

Office 365 uses classical folder structure to categorize emails and offers a 50-GB inbox in addition to 1-TB storage space. Unlimited storage is also available in its Enterprise E3 $20 per user per month plan.

Third-party integration

G Suite’s integration with CRM, productivity and customer service software gives you plenty of options. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Office 365, as Microsoft hasn’t been adopting a developer integration approach when compared with Google.

Support

Both G Suite and Office 365 offer 24/7 phone and email support. However, G Suite also offers live chat support and forums to seek clarification, give feedback and request additional functionality.

To sum up, G Suite is a better solution if you need native integration with third-party apps and support for various operating systems and devices. Despite that, Office 365 makes sense if you prefer a number of options when it comes to your pricing plans or need integration with other Microsoft cloud solutions. No matter the solution, maximizing productivity is imperative to stay ahead of competitors. If you need help finding the right solutions to enhance efficiency, just give us a call; we’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Microsoft ending support for Office 2013

To make sure enterprises get the most out of their Office 365 package, Microsoft announced it will no longer support Office 2013 by the end of February. Instead, the tech giant will push enterprises to upgrade to Office 2016. If your business is still using the 2013 version, here are some things you need to know right away.

Effective February 28, Office 2013 client applications and language packs will no longer be available from the Office 365 self-service portal and Admin Center. On top of that, Microsoft will no longer release feature updates for Office 2013 and will focus solely on upgrading the recent 2016 version. And because Office 2016 doesn’t support Microsoft Exchange Servers 2007 or earlier, you’ll need to upgrade your mail server as well.

The end-of-support changes apply to Office 365 Pro Plus, Small Business Premium, Business, Project Pro, and Visio Pro subscriptions. Although critical security updates for 2013 products extend to April 10, 2018, businesses should really consider making the move to Office 2016 to take advantage of the latest productivity features.

With Office 2016 versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, users can look up web information right from the document interface. What’s more, employees have access to advanced, collaborative features like Skype integrations, Office 365 Planner, and Delve.

If your business plans to migrate to Office 2016, don’t forget to consider the minimum system requirements:

  • 1 GHz processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 3 GB of available disk space
  • 1280 x 800 screen resolution
  • Windows 7 OS, or above
To make the transition process smoother, Microsoft is offering FastTrack migration, a service providing organizations with the tools to help them make the move from one Office version to another.

However, if you need more advice on moving to Office 2016, contact us today. We’ll make sure your Office 365 is always up-to-date.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Choosing storage: OneDrive vs SharePoint

Digital Storage options with Office 365 provide business owners with convenient and efficient data management. But with new software added daily, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of options. Keep reading to find out which Office 365 program will be your best option for organizing and sharing information: SharePoint or OneDrive.

Similarities between OneDrive and SharePointBoth OneDrive and SharePoint applications utilize Office 365 to help businesses organize information and share it with employees and company heads. Documents are stored in a cloud drive for security, so employees can track changes between edited versions, as well as make comments and add information when necessary. This real-time collaboration is one of the favorite benefits of online file management. Since data can be synchronized to various forms of technology, it is portable and usable everywhere.

OneDrive provides personal attentionOneDrive uses a SharePoint backdrop in order to run, making the two programs inherently connected. However, there are distinct features that business owners will notice with their OneDrive account. The OneDrive program is utilized by individuals, and control is still maintained by the individual even if it is shared across a department. Changes are synced to a chosen device, allowing departments to work on projects together. As an administrator, you can share the document by way of a secure link, and you can allow some people to edit and leave others in a position to view only.

SharePoint is a wider group share programIf OneDrive is the perfect individualized sharing option, then SharePoint takes a wider stance. An administrator or company head can save a document online, allowing employees throughout the company to view and edit the document. Every change is tracked to give higher-ups an idea of who is contributing to the company projects. SharePoint is a good application to use for human resource surveys or updates that need to be completed by team members in other departments.

Office 365 encourages businesses to increase their employees' usage of online storage and data options. SharePoint and OneDrive are just two of the many programs provided to improve how your business is run. For more information on how online document sharing programs can help you increase your company's visibility and productivity, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Office 365 reveals new security features

Office 365 has given business owners access to online organizational programs and collaboration tools for years. In an effort to become more user-friendly, Microsoft recently added new features to Office 365, including two security upgrades and the addition of productivity tracking. Keep reading to find out more about Office 365's new Azure Information Protection, Enterprise Mobile Device Management and Productive Insight features.

Azure Information ProtectionUsing Office 365 protection technology, also known as Azure RMS, this feature allows business leaders to mark sensitive documents and control who has access to information in various documents. The protection travels with the data, whether it is online or provided through another device. Business owners can mark a document as internal and keep it from being sent outside the company. Drop-down menus also allow users to apply trackable data protection in order to identify potential leaks and gain insight into how a business is structured.

Enterprise Mobility + Security SuiteRe-branded from the Enterprise Mobility Suite, this feature adds more security potential to sensitive data while allowing business owners to manage apps on any device from one location. Users have more control over identity-driven access and also encrypts data to allow secure collaboration among employees.

Productivity InsightThis feature, an addition to Delve Analytics, tracks an employee's time management at the office. MyAnalytics for Outlook allows business owners or managers to see who has read, replied, and forwarded their email while also providing them with information on the the email sender. The feature also acts as a storage receptacle for shared files and contact information so they can be accessed quickly.

As Office 365 expands its services to include security and productivity features, companies using cloud-based servers have an advantage over old-school computer users. Not only do they have access to the technology to keep their data safe and accessible to employees, but they also have the management software to see where their efforts are paying off by way of productivity programs. If you need to know more about the new features of Office 365, give our professionals a call. We can answer your questions and help you get the most out of the new Security and Productivity Insight additions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Outlook update enhances user experience

As far as communication goes, there are numerous factors to consider, especially when that communication is done online rather than in person. Since its inception, Microsoft Outlook has always been an excellent communication tool. And now, with its recent update, it can do an even better job at helping people communicate with one another quickly and easily. Learn and take advantage of the changes that Outlook’s update makes to the user experience.

Improved Contact CardsOne of the most welcome changes with the Outlook update is that the concept of the Contact Card has been greatly improved upon. In previous manifestations of Outlook, the information about contacts that was quickly available was limited to basic information such as name, phone number, and email address. With the new Outlook, Contact Cards can contain a person's job title, their relationship to you, and what your most recent communications were so that you can better remember who you are talking to and what you were talking about.

Smarter Search FeaturesSearching contacts, emails, and other features of Outlook is easier with the latest update. Search features are now smarter in that they can go off of the first letter you type and retrieve your most frequent search requests starting with that letter. This speeds up searching and helps retrieve relevant information in seconds, not minutes.

People Section EnhancementsOutlook has also made some major improvements and enhancements to the ‘main people’ section of Outlook. You can now create smart lists of people based on common features. This will include your most frequently contacted people, groups based on job titles or departments, favorites, and those who need follow-up. These lists makes sending group emails to relevant contacts much simpler because you don’t have to scour all your contacts to find the right people.

Now that you know some of the ways that Outlook has changed the user experience with its latest updates, you can begin to put these to use in your business. Contact us to help you navigate those changes and put the benefits to use in your business and personal communications.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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New ‘intelligent’ features coming to O365

Every day we see more and more machine learning making its way into our lives. From phones and watches to computers and laptops, it's hard to do anything in the world today without interacting with ‘intelligent’ computers. Well, Office 365 has taken things to a new level, and will be getting more than a few of these features in the near future. Read on to prepare your business for all the changes coming to Office 365.

Tap

How many times have you been working in a Word document or an Outlook email and needed to quote a report or copy in a graph from another file? With 365’s new ‘Tap’ service, you have the option to do that without even leaving the application you're working in. Microsoft’s intelligent assistant will even suggest information and data for you to insert based on what you’re writing. You may not even have to make the search -- it will predict what you need in advance!

Quickstarter

A blank canvas is always intimidating when creating a presentation. Quickstarter for PowerPoint and Sway gives you the boost you need by suggesting outlines, layouts, and even information based on the subject you’re presenting on. For example, if you’re holding a meeting to discuss a business retreat, Quickstarter will suggest page layouts and important text for lodging, transportation, itinerary, etc. Half of your presentation could be finished within minutes of starting it.

Designer

Sometimes it seems like everyone else has stunningly beautiful PowerPoint presentations while ours just look like stock templates. And that’s why we’re so excited about the announcement of Designer. All you have to do is insert your text and your photos or graphics, and Microsoft’s machine learning will automatically position, resize, and fade each component so it looks like a professionally designed slide.

Maps

Everyone has made a graph based on Excel data before. It’s probably the swiftest software solution for transforming numbers into charts on the market, and it’s getting a pretty cool upgrade. Now you can convert geographic data like country names into colored and categorized maps. Go ahead and select a second column of data and watch the countries light up based on the differences between the data points in the second column. Do you have sales data that’s organized by location? Maps will let you create a chart that displays that information with little to no manipulation necessary.

MyAnalytics

The last announcement comes in the form of a standalone dashboard for aggregating your work habits. MyAnalytics pulls data from various 365 tasks to help you recognize meetings trends, most productive times of day, and project progression. And if you’re not ready to do anything with this data yourself, the dashboard will make suggestions to you such as ‘focus time,’ best collaborators, and productivity goals.

With these exciting and intelligent additions, entirely new levels of business productivity are possible. Even before Microsoft announced these features, Office 365 reigned supreme as one of only a few truly wonderful pieces of productivity software. If you haven’t made the transition yet, there’s no better time -- call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Updated Office 365 works with guests

The cloud has made it easier for people, businesses, and companies to interact and collaborate. And one of the best productivity tools on the market is Microsoft Office 365, which is making it even simpler to store, organize and share files online. Thanks to its newest update, you can enjoy all these functions when working with teammates, business partners, and customers outside of your organization. Read on for all the details regarding 365’s new guest-collaborator feature.

This new functionality mainly centers around Office 365 groups. A 365 group is essentially an email address with Office privileges that several people have access to. For example, if you have an Editorial Group, each individual writer at your organization will receive emails, calendar invites, and document read/edit privileges sent to .

If you’re interested in adding a guest from outside of your organization to an Office 365 group, the process is simple. From the group administration dashboard, click “Add Members.” Then, all you need to do is enter the email addresses of whomever you would like to add, and voilà.

Guest collaborators will receive an email alerting them of their new addition and access to group files, emails, and calendar items -- all accessible via Office on the web.

Take note, however, of Outlook’s alert: “You’re adding a guest to this group. As a member, they’ll have access to group content.” This will grant new guests all the same read/edit privileges as other group members -- including privileges from before the guest was added.

There is no requirement for guests to have a Microsoft account, and by always labeling the new member as a guest, original group members won’t ever have to worry about forgetting who should receive confidential document privileges.

Unless the guest is a trusted partner, we recommend creating 365 groups specially designated for the purpose of outside collaboration to ensure the privacy of your cloud documents. Administrators can remove them at any time, or guests can volunteer to leave on their own.

Adding and removing collaborators from outside of your organization may be as simple as adding an email address to a list, but the possibility for improved teamwork is limitless. If at any point in your workflow you feel that your work is suffering from bottlenecks in creation, communication, or collaboration, there’s a good chance Office 365 has a solution. If there’s anyone who will know that solution, it’s us. Message us today about collaborating on all your productivity dilemmas.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Mental shifts to make before cloud migration

Productivity, collaboration, freedom. These words are often touted when the benefits cloud technology are mentioned. But do all businesses that make the cloud switch achieve these? Unfortunately the answer is no. Some businesses flounder in the new technology, and some even become less productive because of it. So how can you avoid such a fate? Well, attitude plays a big role. Here are three mental shifts to make before your cloud migration.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so - before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner - they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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New email security feature for Office 365

While you can take many security precautions to protect your organization, a cyber attack is always possible because of human error. Microsoft, however, is trying to change this. In the coming weeks, the technology giant plans to launch a new security feature for Outlook, but only if you’re an Office 365 user. Here’s how it can help your business.

Aptly called “Safety Tips”, Microsoft Office 365’s new security feature is designed to help make your employees (and yourself) more aware of which emails may contain harmful content. By analyzing the data patterns of millions of emails, the feature uses a color-coded bar at the top of an email to help you determine what emails are safe, suspicious, or fraudulent.

How it works

Safety Tips uses a simple system to help you identify the safety level of an email quickly. The system consists of four colors that categorizes an email as suspicious, trusted, safe or unknown. The details of each of these categories are outlined below.

Suspicious emailColor label: Red
Description: This has either failed sender authentication or is a known phishing email. These messages should be deleted.

Unknown emailColor label: Yellow
Description: Exchange Online Protection marks this type of email as spam. However, you can move this item to your inbox by clicking it’s not spam in the yellow bar.

Trusted emailColor label: Green
Description: If this email comes from a domain Microsoft deems safe, then it falls into this category.

Safe emailColor label: Gray
Description: This type of email has either been marked safe by the user’s organization, has been moved from the junk folder into their inbox by the user, or the email is from a contact on the user’s safe sender list.

Color coding will look different between the Outlook app and Outlook for the Web. In the Outlook application, only suspicious emails will be flagged, whereas in Outlook for the Web all four types of emails will be color-coded. However, it should be noted that most emails won’t have any color code as they’re only added when Microsoft thinks they’re relevant.

With hackers getting smarter by the day, and human error a roadblock to a secure business, this new feature will hopefully add an extra layer of security to your organization. If you’d like to learn more about Office 365 or other security services we offer, get in touch today. A more secure business awaits.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Connectors: the new Office 365 update

At work, we depend on several apps to be more productive around the office. However, with so many of them open in our web browsers, it can be a drag to constantly click in and out of tabs just to get the information we need. Fortunately, Office 365 Connectors for Groups allows you to stay on top of all the third party services your company is using. So how, exactly, do these connectors make your life easier? Here are a few things you need to know about the new Office 365 feature.

What can it do?

Office 365 Connectors enable users to access third party apps and services within their Outlook groups, rather than having to scour through dozens of windows to access a specific application. This new feature allows you to keep your company’s discussion in one place, and enables your employees to stay up-to-date regardless of the service used to broadcast an event. For example, your team members can be informed about a particular hashtag that your company is following on Twitter without having to explicitly open the page. Groups aren’t limited to one particular service either. With connectors you can use Twitter, Trello, Mailchimp, Bing, UserVoice and over 50 other services.

Small organizations can also take advantage of connectors. Office 365 lets you develop your own connectors by embedding the Connect to Office 365 button on your site. This allows users to connect to your service and get updates on your company, as they would with other third party services. Basically, with connectors, your Office 365 client becomes a hub for third party that keeps your company in sync to get more work done.

Connector card

Connector cards offer a user friendly way to interact with external applications. If a particular connector is added to a group, connector cards are generated within the group’s activity feed. While most cards will display events in plain text, some applications like Twitter and Trello provide formatted actions to interact with the card. Trello, for example, allows you to Assign or Comment on an event card.

Who can create a connector?

Office 365 group members can configure and use an array of connectors. Once you configure a connector for a specific group, that app will be also be available for other members. However, the person who added a connector to the group is the only one capable of modifying that app.

How do you access Office 365 Connectors?

With its public release, any Office 365 Mail user can use Office 365 Connectors for Groups. Simply navigate to a Group from your Outlook page and click on the Connectors tab at the top of the page. From here, you can connect the available third party services on offer to any of your Outlook groups. You can even configure the settings of your apps without ever having to leave Office 365. However you should probably only consider pulling in the applications that you think your group will be using the most.

As your business grows, you’re going to need more services to be more productive in the workplace. By aggregating them all in one place, you save time shifting around dozens of apps to find the information that you need. So the next time you create an Office 365 Group, help your team members work more efficiently by setting up some connectors.

If you’re interested in learning about the latest Office 365 updates, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How to switch securely to Office 365

It’s easy to see why Office 365 is an attractive solution for small and medium-sized businesses already familiar with the Office interface. More and more companies are making the move to the cloud, but many have yet to complete their transition and still rely at least in part on on-site SharePoint systems. When you’re ready to migrate, the move from SharePoint to Office 365 presents numerous security challenges to prepare for – not least because breaches are far more likely to be caused by localized issues than insufficient protection on Microsoft’s part. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you’ve got security covered when you make the leap to migrating from SharePoint to Office 365.

Identify your company’s sensitive data…

It’s so easy to create sites within SharePoint that businesses often have far more than they realize, covering just about every aspect of their operations. And it’s natural, of course, for at least some of the files housed within those sites to contain sensitive commercial or personal data. The key is ensuring that sensitive information is adequately identified and protected. Do this by conducting a security audit before you undertake your migration.

Your audit should identify the types of data stored in the various parts of your SharePoint network, including which specific information needs extra safeguarding. Be sure to consider everything from trade secrets and contract details to the personal information of your clients.

…and then restrict access to it

Once you’ve worked out where your most precious data lies, you can check who currently has access to it and whether their access is appropriate. After all, it’s not necessary for everyone to be able to get at all the data your company owns; it’s far better to operate on a need-to-know basis, with a reasonable level of flexibility.

Ensure that each of your employees has access only to the data that’s necessary for them to perform their duties. When you make the switch to Office 365, you’ll find that it allows you to conveniently set these different levels of permissions, including for external partners with whom you collaborate.

Trust nobody and suspect everybody

We say that lightheartedly, of course – it would be counterproductive to become so security-paranoid as to suspect everyone is attempting foul play with your company’s data. Nonetheless, it’s wise to consider everyone in your organization when it comes to auditing data access permissions – and that includes system administrators who might be assumed to have master access to every element of your network infrastructure.

A rogue administrator is the stuff of nightmares, since their elevated position gives them much greater leeway to siphon off valuable data without being noticed – or even to allow others to conduct questionable business and bypass the usual built-in security precautions. Overcoming the danger of an all-too-powerful administrator admittedly becomes easier if you have more than one on staff, but even in smaller businesses you can mediate some of the risk by regularly checking on your administrator’s usage and ensuring that their top-level system permissions remain justifiable.

Use machine learning to foresee security breaches

Every action performed by your staff within Office 365 is automatically logged, and with relative ease you can pull reports that allow you to analyze these. But the sheer number of events taking place within Office 365 in the course of your business’s normal operations means that even attempting to identify questionable behavior will be akin to the proverbial needle and haystack. That’s not to say it’s unwise to be on the lookout for anomalies in normal usage – the export of unexplainably large volumes of data, for instance, could suggest that a member of your team is leaking intelligence to a competitor, or that they’re about to jump ship and take your trade secrets with them.

Thankfully, it’s possible to leverage the developing power of machine learning to identify potential breaches before they happen – without the need to wade through unmanageable swathes of perfectly normal data. Graph API is incorporated into Office 365, and allows for the integration of machine learning tools into your security environment to achieve just that. The same tools can also help you avoid being caught out by hackers, by identifying system login attempts from locations that are out of the ordinary; you should bolster this protection by religiously removing inactive accounts and those of departing employees.

By covering these essential security considerations when it comes to your migration, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring you strike the right balance between the powerful collaborative features of Office 365 and the robust safeguards your business’s integrity demands. To find out more about how we can help your Office 365 migration run smoothly, or what other business benefits you can derive from cloud-powered technologies, just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How to get the most out of Office 365

While many Office 365 users know the service can boost their company’s productivity, many aren’t utilizing it to its full potential. There are several key principles and tips that can make the service even more productive. So to help you get the most out of Office 365, here are some tips to follow.

Get all staff onboard

To maximize your company’s productivity on Office 365, every employee that uses a computer needs to utilize it. While this may sound easier said than done, you can encourage company-wide use by getting the leaders of your company to use it first. When your executives, managers and top employees are all using and promoting Office 365, it sets a good example that will help persuade all employees to fall in line.

Train employees

If your employees don’t know how to use Office 365, you will see little gains in productivity, and the cloud service becomes a wasted investment. This is why training is absolutely vital. Teach your staff all the ins and outs of the platform, so they can take full advantage of it.

One way to efficiently train your staff is to create or gather a series of short training videos, only a few minute in length. Shorter videos are easy to digest for your employees and help them retain the info. Best of all, they can be reviewed again and again, and used for all employees. This saves time for management, who is often responsible for employee training.

Utilize core tools

When you first implemented Office 365, what sold you on it? Likely it was the fact that it increases staff productivity by allowing them to work and collaborate from anywhere. So if you’re not yet utilizing the tools that enables them to do that, there’s no better time than now to get started.

Some of the core tools that enable you and your staff to become more productive and work from anywhere are OneDrive for Business (OD4B), SharePoint and Skype for Business. OD4B and SharePoint enable your staff to upload and save documents to a virtual drive, share that document with another group or user, and then edit it at the same time. This gives you and your employees the ability to access that document from anywhere, and essentially work from anywhere. Skype for Business also enhances productivity by creating a more flexible communication channel. Employees, colleagues and customers, can communicate easily wherever they may be in the world. From online meetings, to conference calls, video calls and instant messaging, you have a wealth of options for instant communication.

Don’t forget security

Not only can a security breach cost you money, but it can also destroy your employees productivity. While Office 365 already has security built in with Azure Active Directory, you should still be cautious of what files you add and share on the service. If you do upload files with sensitive company information to the platform, it’s wise to keep them under you or your executives direct control.

These four productivity tips should help your business make the most out of Office 365. If you’d like more ideas on how to better utilize the platform, make it more secure or need additional training, give us a call. We are happy to share our expertise for your maximum gain.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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The keys to a successful Office 365 migration

Microsoft Office 365 is growing in popularity as more and more businesses make the move to the cloud. However, without proper planning and testing beforehand, you could get stuck in the middle of the migration process, end up with duplicated data, or even have to abort the transition completely. Needless to say, all of these scenarios could result in serious network downtime. But you can easily avoid a migration nightmare by considering these key points before making the switch to Office 365.

Do your research

Researching Office 365 can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it will certainly give you a good idea of how everything will work, and what you can expect before, during, and after the migration process. You should understand and anticipate how your business’s daily operations will change when you make the move to a cloud-based platform. You also need to be aware that traditional Microsoft Office programs and Office 365 applications are completely different in terms of functionality, features, and interface.

Create a checklist

Most businesses fail to create a comprehensive migration checklist, because they tend to focus on the technical aspects without addressing other areas that are critical to the migration’s success. These include elements such as training, informing users, and gathering adoption feedback. You can start by drafting a step-by-step plan that clearly defines the phases of the migration process, and then keep refining the plan until everything is covered.

Check email settings

For a seamless transition, you need to synchronize accounts between your active directory domain and Office 365, by using Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory Synchronization tool. Don’t forget to point your company’s mail exchanger record to Office 365, so new emails will be sent directly to the new mailboxes in Office 365. Misconfiguration of email sync during the migration could flag your organization’s email as spam, disrupting the communication process with your clients and partners.

Choose your migration

Each migration plan looks different, and you should choose the one that best fits your needs. Generally, Office 365 migrations can be divided into three categories:
  • Cutover migration - this is a single provisioning and transfer of mailboxes, users, contacts, and mail groups to Office 365. The cutover process can handle up to 2,000 mailboxes, and the migration time depends on the number of users and mail volume.
  • Staged migration - if you don’t want to migrate all your resources at once, staged migration is a good alternative. It allows you to move mailboxes in smaller batches over a much longer period of time.
  • Hybrid migration - this type of migration is perfect for organizations that need to move more than 2,000 mailboxes and wish to run local Exchange servers and Office 365 simultaneously.

Test everything

Once you have broken down the whole migration into various phases, it will be easy to design a testing procedure for each phase. Standard testing processes include migrating a small amount of data, sending and receiving emails, and application trials, in order to ensure that everything works as expected. The more components you can test before migrating to the platform, the less chance there is of your company facing issues afterwards.

If you’re considering an Office 365 migration, why not let our expert technicians do the job for you? We can migrate your resources seamlessly and smoothly without disrupting your business. Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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