Today there are millions of business users who depend on Office 365 for email and document storage. Most, however, never go beyond Exchange to explore the potential of this powerful platform. Jeff Forsyth, Director of Microsoft Cloud Computing at Axis Business Solutions, addressed this topic as a part of a recent webinar.
“We find tremendous value for our customers by helping them maximize their investment in Office 365,” said Forsyth. “There are dozens of add-on features and capabilities available such as video conferencing, collaboration and intranet services that should be explored. In addition, there are several products that can make a big difference when it comes to things like cost and business process.”
Take for example InfoPath, Microsoft’s tool for designing, distributing, filling and submitting electronic forms containing structured data. Rather than turning to a custom coded solution this product allows companies a “WYSIWYG” solution that is fully integrated with Outlook and Sharepoint, simple to use and customizable.
“It’s not always the best use of money to build a custom solution and a product like InfoPath is a great illustration of that,” said Forsyth. “In today’s cloud oriented, mobile first world InfoPath allows you to stay away from a custom solution that requires an ongoing depth of technical knowledge across rapidly changing platforms. When you factor in security considerations and things like single sign on using InfoPath starts to make a lot more sense versus a custom solution.”
Office 365 also positions companies to take advantage of the Microsoft Application Platform. The platform provides tools to enhance business processes, mitigate data risk and keep companies current against security threats. You may have heard of the apps offered as part of this platform – Microsoft PowerApps, Power BI Embedded and Flow.
Microsoft PowerApps can be thought of as Platform as a Service and allows users to create apps that will function across multiple platforms and on multiple browsers. It’s development tool – PowerApps Studio – can be used from both online and desktop based versions and easily connects data and work in multiple locations whether on premise, in the cloud or a combination of both.
“The key with PowerApps again is that you are building web and mobile apps without writing code,” said Forsyth. “From workflows to services, actions, conditions, and loops you can connect to what you have, build the application and publish.”
Microsoft Flow provides hundreds of templates to help automate workflows across your applications and services. If there isn’t a template that fits your requirement it also provides a studio where you can build your own custom flows. With Flow, you can get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, automate approvals and more – all across all of your applications and services.
“These tools give our clients who best understand their needs, the ability to quickly and cost effectively meet them without the cost and challenges associated with developing and implementing a custom software solution. When a gap is identified these tools provide a straightforward, cost effective option that can quickly deliver a solution without requiring the expense of development or the addition of more off the shelf SaaS products,” summarized Forsyth.