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When business productivity matters.

As your business grows, you may benefit from more advanced and comprehensive office productivity software. Typically, most small businesses use Microsoft Office Professional when starting up and going through early growth. Trouble is, once they become bigger and more sophisticated themselves, their security and applications management needs change. But they may not upgrade their software to meet these new needs.

Enter Microsoft 365. That’s different from Office 365 – which is the Professional version. Most people call them M365 and O365 respectively.

The decision to change to M365 is a little more complex than the O365 decision which is more like: “We need office software, so let’s get O365”. The M365 decision requires more analysis and consideration. The first difficulty is in understanding the differences. As with most techies, explanations are often technical, so let’s simplify.

The M365 decision is predicated on what’s in the suite of products, and how much you will use these new features. Firstly, understand that M365 has about 30% more workload attached for administrators, but it also has some features which reduce the workload as well – the self-service password reset feature being one of them.

Firstly M365 includes all of O365, but also has Windows 10 Enterprise, Enterprise Mobility and Security, as well as machine learning. Let’s unpack that a little.

The main features of Windows 10 Enterprise are that it provides Direct Access which provides intranet connectivity to client computers when they are connected to the Internet. It also includes AppLocker which allows you specify which users or groups can run which apps. It has the “Windows To Go Creator”, which allows staff to load Windows from certain USB and hard drives. This is useful for administrators, and for staff with their own devices. Finally, you get BranchCache, which hosts content on local (branch) servers, to reduce network traffic, and minimize local lag on the network. So, Windows 10 Enterprise is useful for more complex businesses, where your administrators need to actively manage the office environment, and where your staff are on the move.

Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) allows users to use office tools on mobile devices, while keeping corporate data secure. EMS enables self-service password reset and provides end users the self-service ability to join / manage groups. EMS includes advanced machine learning-based security and usage reports provide additional protection to sensitive data. There is advanced mobile device and identity management, and more secure management of data. This is a big deal, because most cyber-attacks (and there are 110 million of them per month in South Africa) emanate from outside your cyber-security boundaries, and if your staff are also outside these boundaries, then they and you are at risk.  EMS also includes a single administrative console that allows for the management of all devices from one place. The takeout for EMS is: Better security and mobile device management.

M365 comes with additional machine learning tools. O365 includes artificial intelligence. The M365 machine learning helps developers with pre-trained machine learning models, helping with real-time analysis of data.

So here’s the bottom line: O365 provides adequate tools and security for a small business, but once the business grows, you need to get serious about their office productivity tools. M365 offers better security and much better management capabilities. It also connects and helps manage mobile devices and remote users. That’s the upside. The downside is that it takes more work and needs a competent administrator with M365 certification.

Author  – Barbi Goldblatt –  Regional Executive

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