Why 365? There are five reasons for small business owners and IT executives to consider moving to Office 365.
Microsoft's Office 365 installations are exploding – with expected growth from 49 million in 2015 to 250 million in 2019 – but is it a service well suited for Latin America?
There are a number of nice features in Office 365 but like any cloud-based solution one of the key prerequisites for success is network bandwidth. Internet connectivity speeds in LA countries are amongst the slowest and could create user satisfaction problems for companies that attempt to migrate to the service.
Small business owners and IT executives desirous of using the cloud-based service should pilot it first to ensure it will meet user performance requirements. Simultaneously, executives should address the data and service level concerns that impact business outcomes, productivity and security so that IT can be satisfied they are providing a better service at a lower cost while protecting the organization from cybersecurity attacks and vulnerabilities.
One of Microsoft's goals is to move its productivity tool clients over to its cloud services.
This would simplify the lifecycle process and improve its margins. Office 365 has a number of components (Exchange, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Skype, Word, and other modules depending upon the plan) and features that make the offering valuable. (Office 365 plans can be found here for SMBs and here for enterprises.)
But for countries where the Internet bandwidth is not sufficient, this limitation, as well as other challenges, could cause satisfaction issues and prove to be costly to the small business owners and IT executives that promote the move.
There are a number of reasons for small business owners and IT executives to consider moving to Office 365.
The primary reasons to consider the switch are the savings in resources and costs. Companies will be able to utilize more of the Microsoft suite of productivity tools for less than it would cost internally.
Moreover, small businesses no longer need to focus on patching or keeping users technically current, which alone delivers five major advantages:
- Timeliness of patching/updates.
- Better security.
- Fewer resources devoted to maintenance and support
- New enhancements or features sooner.
- Consistency of versioning across the organization.
Microsoft, like most of the top tier cloud providers, has implemented strong security measures, which should alleviate many of the auditors' concerns about having critical business data and/or personally identifiable information (PII) out in the cloud.
The Potential Challenges
While there may be some security gains for some companies, accountability for compliance and security still remain with the user and unfortunately Microsoft, like other cloud service providers (CSPs), is not transparent when it comes to many of the audit and regulatory requirements.
Thus, businesses will need to ensure that all aspects of electronic and physical security satisfy corporate and governmental requirements. This needs to include access by CSP personnel, archiving, backup, disaster recovery, eDiscovery, location of data, PII data, permanent retention or deletion of data.
Small business owners and IT executives must also ensure that their service level objectives will be met by the agreed-to SLAs. Unsurprisingly, we find that it can take six – nine months of negotiation to get a contract that is a mutual win-win.
Areas that IT executives need to drill down on are bandwidth speed, latency, costs associated with (and time expended) downloading and storage of files, encryption of data in transit and at rest, security, remote access/roaming, OWA, migration, support, maintenance window, end to end problem management, and spam management.
It should be noted, by the way, that a migration is not a simple task and most organizations hire a third-party service provider to lead or assist with the project.
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About the author
Mr. Braunstein serves as Chairman/CEO and Executive Director of Research at the Robert Frances Group (RFG). In addition to his corporate role, he helps his clients wrestle with a range of business, management, regulatory, and technology issues.
He has deep and broad experience in business strategy management, business process management, enterprise systems architecture, financing, mission-critical systems, project and portfolio management, procurement, risk management, sustainability, and vendor management. Cal also chaired a Business Operational Risk Council whose membership consisted of a number of top global financial institutions.