Office 365 event thoughts and take-aways

On Wednesday, June 28, Innovative hosted a lunch-and-learn event titled Office 365 – Way more than email!  For this event, I was joined by my counterpart and friend, Tim Rettig, CEO of IntrustIT – Cincinnati’s Cloud Experts.  Having known Tim for over eight years, I’ve seen Intrust evolve and thrive as early-adopters of Microsoft cloud solutions, including Office 365, and I knew that his experience would be useful to our clients that are either currently subscribing to Office 365 but under-leveraging all of the components found in their subscription, or are exploring whether Office 365 may be right for their business.

We at Innovative also leverage Office 365, but not to the commitment of Intrust, so having another voice to show the possibilities was a clear benefit to all that attended.  Innovative predominantly leverages Skype for Business as our chat and video conferencing platform, and are in the process of migrating our on premise SharePoint server to hosted SharePoint, and dabbling in the use of Teams as an internal collaboration platform.  However, I made the observation toward the close of our session that relying on Office 365 for critical business functions often feels as though we are driving down the highway at 55MPH in a car that’s still under construction.

Moving to a cloud platform requires a different mindset from users — one that accepts change as a constant. If you have an organization that bought and still runs Office 2007, you’ll likely have a panic attack if you try to run O365.  Cloud platforms bring constant feature upgrades — for those that are used to a traditional three to five year usability life cycle, this rapid change pattern will likely cause great unease.

In addition, you have to be open to a near constant reexamination of what tools are available, and that abandoning one that has been used for several years in favor of the new flavor of the month should be an expectation.  During a portion of Tim’s demo, I made the point that if some folks waited six months and tried to recreate what he was doing, it may not work the same way because changes to O365 are happening so fast and furious.

An Office 365 subscription does indeed offer way more than email.  However, if the other tools included are to be adopted by your organization, users have to be prepared that the only constant will be change.