Gartner report—Microsoft’s new vision for communications and collaboration in Office 365

In September, we announced a new vision for intelligent communications, where we bring comprehensive calling and meetings capabilities into Microsoft Teams, data and insights from the Microsoft Graph, and a strong roadmap of innovation to empower teams to achieve more. Teams will evolve as the primary tool for intelligent communications in Office 365, replacing Skype for Business Online over time.

Since launch, more than 125,000 organizations across 181 markets and 29 languages have discovered how teamwork comes to life in Teams, as we continue to gain momentum, with Teams evolving as the hub for teamwork within Office 365, now including chat, calling, and meetings.

Gartner recently published a report analyzing the impact of the decision to make Teams the hub for teamwork and makes recommendations for decision makers when mapping their requirements.

Download your complimentary copy to find out what Gartner recommends.

For more information on Microsoft’s new vision for intelligent communications, read “A new vision for intelligent communications in Office 365” or watch our on-demand webinar.

—Farren Roper, senior product marketing manager for Microsoft Teams

Grow your small business with business apps from Office 365

Today, we announced that Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, and the Office 365 Business center are now generally available as part of Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium. The new apps are rolling out to customers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

These apps—together with Microsoft Bookings, Outlook Customer Manager, and MileIQ—bring you seven new ways to manage your customer relationships and build your business. We’re also announcing new intelligence features for MileIQ that automatically classify drives as business or personal on your behalf.

Let’s take a closer look at how the apps can help you grow your business by acquiring new customers and nurturing existing ones, and help you run your business with simple ways to invoice, schedule appointments, and track mileage—all from one location.

Tools to grow your business

Nurture customer relationships, create email marketing campaigns, and help new customers discover you more easily with Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Connections, and Outlook Customer Manager.

Three devices show Microsoft Listings, Connections, and Outlook Customer Manager.

Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Connections, and Outlook Customer Manager help you connect with customers to grow your business.

Microsoft Listings—Bring in new customers by getting your business listed on Facebook, Google, Bing, and Yelp from one place. Ensure your business information and brand—including name, address, phone number, website, hours, and logo—are consistent across these sites. Also, easily monitor views and reviews of your business in one view.

Microsoft Connections—Send professional-looking marketing emails that showcase your brand and drive sales. Engage current customers with newsletters and announcements that remind them to make a visit. Easily set up incentives like refer-a-friend discounts to reward current customers for referrals so you can bring more business through the door.

Outlook Customer Manager—Grow your relationships with a simple, smart customer management solution. Get quick access to all customer information—emails, meetings, calls, notes, tasks, deals, reminders, and deadlines—right next to your inbox so you spend less time managing data and navigating multiple screens and more time growing customer relationships.

Tools to help run your business

Send invoices and estimates, manage customer appointments, and track your mileage with Microsoft Invoicing, Bookings, and MileIQ.

Three devices show Microsoft Invoicing, Bookings, and MileIQ.

Microsoft Invoicing, Bookings, and MileIQ help you run your business more efficiently.

Microsoft Invoicing—Generate estimates and invoices that look professional. Get paid fast with online payments, track pending and partial payments, find draft estimates and past invoices, set sales tax and discounts, and quickly transform estimates into invoices—all in a few clicks.

Bookings—Easily manage your customers’ appointments. Enable your customers to choose the time slot they want through a simple-to-set-up booking webpage with built-in Facebook integration. Bookings also automatically adds appointments to your staff’s calendars that are updated automatically upon rescheduling or canceling.

MileIQ—Track your miles in a simpler, smarter way with automatic drive detection, mileage logging, and comprehensive reporting. Classify the trip as business or personal in one swipe. We also added new intelligence features that save you valuable time by automatically classifying trips as business or personal based on your work hours and drives you frequently take.

Track business activities

The Business center serves as a central access point and dashboard for the apps, bringing together the tools that help you provide excellent service to your current and potential customers—including Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, and Bookings. You can track key business metrics like total and outstanding invoices, email subscribers, online impressions, and total bookings to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not, so you can get the most out of your time.

A smart device displays the Office 365 Business center.

The Business center helps you stay on top of activities across the business apps to save you time.

Getting started

Because these business apps are part of Office 365, getting started is as easy as clicking a button in Outlook or exploring a new tile from your Office.com home page. There’s no need to manage multiple sign-ins or transfer data between different tools—your Office 365 sign-in gives you access across the apps. The apps use data already present in Office 365, such as email data and calendar free/busy information, to power a simple and integrated experience. Best of all, the business apps are included at no additional cost in Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions.

You may already have seen the Business center show up in your Office.com home page—this means that the apps are ready for you to use. If not, expect to get access in the next few weeks. If you are eager to get started, you can join First Release, which will get you fastest access to the apps, and also give you early access to new features as we add them in the coming months.

Not a current subscriber? Just purchase or start a trial of Microsoft 365 Business or Office 365 Business Premium and start using all the business apps.

Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, Business center, and MileIQ are currently available in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Bookings and Outlook Customer Manager are available worldwide.

We’re eager for you to start using these tools, and we’re confident they will help you bring in new customers and more easily manage your business, so you can do more of the work you love.

An infographic shows seven ways to power your small business with Office 365 apps.

Frequently asked questions

Q. When will Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, MileIQ, and the Business center be available in additional countries?

A. We are working to expand our offering to other countries and regions and will share timelines as we get closer to those dates.

Q. Can I control which users in my organization access these apps?

A. Yes, the Office 365 global admin role controls who has access to these apps, except for MileIQ. By default, standard users have access to Bookings and Outlook Customer Manager, but not Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, and Microsoft Invoicing. They can request access directly from the Business center. Global admins can accept or decline their request from Admin center > Settings > Services & add-ins > Business center.

Q. Will additional Office 365 subscription plans such as E3 and E5 include business apps?

A. We know that many small businesses subscribe to E3 and E5 plans for advanced capabilities and are working to bring the apps to these plans.

Q. How do I activate the MileIQ benefit of my Office 365 Business Premium or Microsoft 365 Business subscription?

A. Visit www.mileiq.com/office365 to create a new MileIQ account or sign in using your existing one, and then enter your Office 365 credentials so we can activate your subscription benefit.

 

Microsoft SharePoint recognized as a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms

Content is one of the most critical assets for every organization, embodying its knowledge and processes. How content is created, managed, and shared—and how users collaborate using that content—has gone through a drastic evolution from traditional enterprise content management (ECM) to dynamic content services.

According to Gartner, “Content services platforms are the next stage of enterprise content management, representing a shift from self-contained systems and repositories to open services.” To truly deliver on the promise of content services, you must balance manageability with ease of use to unlock productivity gains around your critical business information.

SharePoint delivers content services as the foundational content platform for Office 365, with capabilities for creating, sharing, protecting, and reusing information. Going far beyond merely storing documents, SharePoint hosts digital content like pages, videos, images, designs, 3D, medical scans, and markup as well as traditional documents. SharePoint embodies ease of use with ease of management—on any device, for any user, at any location.

These innovations, along with customers’ transition to the cloud and the growing imperative for secure content collaboration and sharing, are driving growth across Microsoft 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive. More than 300,000 organizations now have SharePoint and OneDrive in Office 365, including 85 percent of the Fortune 500. Active users grew over 90 percent, and data stored in SharePoint Online grew over 250 percent in the last year alone.

Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a Leader in the Content Services Platform Magic Quadrant for 2017. In addition to being positioned as one of only three Leaders, Microsoft is placed highest for Ability to Execute.

Image of the Gartner Magic Quadrant shows Microsoft as a Leader in Content Services for 2017.

We feel this placement is a further indication of our commitment to our customers, recognizing that Microsoft provides leading content services capabilities, including:

  • Simplicity—SharePoint is quick and fast to set up, with a simple and clean user interface paired with easy but powerful management.
  • Content services across Office 365—SharePoint has also become the content services layer that powers content collaboration across Office 365. So, now whether you are co-authoring in Office apps, emailing cloud attachments in Outlook, or collaborating with your team in the new chat-based workspace, Microsoft Teams—SharePoint provides a consistent set of experiences across the applications, along with the security and control that’s important to IT.
  • Support for a broad range of file types—In addition to Office files, SharePoint can store any file and now supports viewing of over 270 file types, including Adobe Photoshop (PSD), Illustrator (AI), Acrobat (PDF), as well as video, 3D formats, and DICOM images.
  • Personalized search and intelligence—Search is smarter, faster, and easier for you to find and filter results that include all SharePoint content, including files, sites, people, and now news and list items. SharePoint even indexes objects, text, and handwriting inside other images.
  • Scalability—SharePoint supports customers ranging in size from small businesses to organizations with hundreds of thousands of users and has a maximum tenant capacity of 30 trillion documents.
  • Security and IT confidence—SharePoint leverages Microsoft security capabilities such as Advanced Data Governance for Retention and Records Management, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), eDiscovery, and Customer Key with consistent controls across Office 365.
  • Deployment flexibility—Customers can choose their deployment model—cloud, hybrid, or on-premises—and leverage no-cost Microsoft FastTrack deployment, adoption, and migration services.
  • Cloud leadership and compliance—With 100+ global datacenters and Microsoft’s global network edge—combined with compliance standards, including ISO 27001, FISMA, and EU Model Clauses—we offer customers trusted enterprise-grade compliance and security.

At Microsoft Ignite last month, we announced an exciting new set of SharePoint innovations that build on this foundation. To learn more about how SharePoint can help you and your organization, visit our website and download our content services white paper. Finally, download your own complimentary copy of the Gartner Content Services Platforms Magic Quadrant.

—Chris McNulty, senior product marketing manager for the SharePoint team

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Aston Martin sets the pace for the next hundred years of automotive excellence with Microsoft 365

Aston Martin logo.

Today’s Microsoft 365 post was written by Andrew Palmer, chief executive officer of Aston Martin Lagonda.

I like to think of Aston Martin as a 104-year-old startup. After more than a hundred years of creating beautiful, British-built cars, it’s time to plan for the next century. We call this our Second Century Plan, and it hinges on balance. How do we expand the company while maintaining the craftsmanship and personal attention to detail that stand as the hallmarks of our brand? That’s where Microsoft comes in, providing us with the collaborative technology we need to help power the next hundred years of exquisite cars from Aston Martin.

Cloud-based communication and collaboration tools from Microsoft are a logical extension of the qualities that make Aston Martin such a resilient yet disruptive brand. We are a small company, which I see as a great strength. With the right combination of world-class tools and passionate people, we bring a responsive, agile element to the luxury car business that larger companies can’t. This is where cloud productivity services from Microsoft are an ideal match, enhancing our close-knit, collaborative culture to drive innovation. We use Office 365 to move quickly, taking new concepts to market with record speed or reacting to news and tweaking communication strategies the day before a motor show.

As Aston Martin introduces new models, such as our SUV, to bring the brand to a whole new market, we need to gather and interpret a wealth of data to make the best decisions and future-proof our cars. This means more than staying on top of the latest in automotive engineering and design—we aim to understand market trends and anticipate the needs of customers for years to come. We use Power BI in Office 365 to turn data into insights, so we can ensure our place in the future of the luxury car industry.

At Aston Martin, we protect some of the most important intellectual property in the car industry. The trust we place in the Microsoft Cloud environment extends to every aspect of Office 365. By choosing to keep our data in the cloud, we are making a statement about the long-term reliability of Microsoft as a partner.

We are reimagining our brand for the future—looking at greener technologies, connected vehicles, and millennials’ propensity for car sharing—and releasing seven new cars in as many years. Innovating at this pace is a testament to the pioneering spirit of Aston Martin. Our journey continues with Microsoft 365 Enterprise, which includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. We’ll be using these Microsoft cloud-based technologies to make sure our designers, engineers, manufacturers, and marketers collaborate seamlessly on new ideas that continue to marry the elegant design we are known for with the speed and responsiveness drivers crave. Working with Microsoft, Aston Martin is investing in the next hundred years of beautiful cars that set the standard for luxury.

—Andrew Palmer

Read the case study for more on the Aston Martin digital transformation.

VCA creates a welcoming environment and boosts innovation with Microsoft

VCA logo.

Today’s post was written by Brandon Antin, vice president of Social Responsibility and Innovation at VCA.

If there’s one thing the more than 25,000 VCA employees know, it’s that we’re a pet-friendly work environment. In fact, I bring my rescue dog, Charlee, to work with me every day. I wanted to build on that idea of a welcoming workplace based on common corporate knowledge to promote a more connected culture among team members at our more than 815 veterinary hospitals across North America. When you have different cultures across such a large area, something as simple as understanding the common threads that bind everyone together is challenging. Today, we’re using Office 365 as our communication and collaboration platform to create an environment where everyone can share their ideas. Now that all our employees—from doctors and vet techs, to people in the support office, and even the CEO—have the ability to offer their expertise on how to improve our company, we’re in a better position to be more innovative and provide the best possible care for our clients’ pets.

When I was asked to build the Innovation department at VCA, my first task from our CEO was to create ways for employees to easily communicate their ideas within the company. I launched a competition, called VCA NEXT, and asked for any and all ideas that could help us discover new areas that would improve VCA and its future. One idea that triumphed came from an employee in the Risk and Safety department. He suggested building a collaboration network to create a more inclusive work environment. We applauded his idea and started researching the major platforms available. We decided that partnering with Microsoft—and Office 365—would be the best choice to help us bring our idea to life by giving us the fastest path to new capabilities. By providing the latest communication and collaboration technology to all our employees, we were confident that we could achieve a highly productive workforce and a connected company culture.

Our amazing VCA Innovation and IT teams got to work migrating more than 25,000 employees across 1,000 locations to Office 365. The total project was accomplished in less than three months, an impressive result that would have taken many companies a year to complete. We also worked with our IT partner, 6th Street Consulting, to help us build our new WOOFConnect collaboration network, based on Microsoft SharePoint Online. With their help, we developed our vision to create a one-stop shop that we could use to connect with one another, share documents, establish best practices, work on medical cases together, and transform our hospitals into a dynamic network of pet health professionals.

With Microsoft, VCA has the perfect partner and platform to expand our innovation program and discover new solutions, something that was previously more arduous. Specifically, Office 365 provides a seamless mechanism to build inclusion by offering new ways to communicate for any employee working at any job from any hospital, lab, office, or facility across our network. With transparent and open communications, we can scale best practices and innovations to improve pet care and client service.

Nowhere is this more evident than with our client service representatives and veterinary technicians, who work directly with our clients and their pets, sometimes under stressful situations. You could have a dog that gets excited by the presence of other pets and a client asking questions about parasite protection products, while the front desk team continues to check in pets, field phone calls, schedule appointments, discuss wellness plans, and carry bags of dog food to clients’ cars. It’s a very fast-paced environment, and until now, it was difficult for Firstline Workers to find the information they needed to serve clients quickly. Today, they can search WOOFConnect, pose a question on Yammer, or connect directly through Skype instant messaging on mobile devices to immediately get answers in the hospital. They can also use Microsoft StaffHub, an app designed to help staff access the tools, resources, and communication channels they need to manage their busy workdays. With the capabilities of Office 365 and apps like StaffHub, our Firstline Workers can save time, collaborate, and work more efficiently. And by saving even one minute, they help pets faster, which makes clients happier. By experimenting with additional services from Microsoft, apps in Office 365, and extensions opportunities available within StaffHub, we hope to create even more efficiencies. Better access to corporate information means our Firstline Workers will improve their knowledge about the company, their work, and their peers. They can also contribute their ideas within VCA through our new two-way communication channel.

We’re partnering with Microsoft to deliver an enterprise-wide collaboration platform that empowers everyone from the boardroom to our Firstline Workers. As a result, we are creating a stronger culture, improving productivity, and streamlining business processes. If you’re an oncologist working on a case, you can now consult in real-time with other VCA doctors around the country. If you’re a regional director with 20 hospitals and need your team to collaborate on a document, participants can easily join a team site and work on the document together. Departments will be able to send updates to the company through a Yammer feed on the homepage of WOOFConnect. Instead of an employee in Risk and Safety sending out hundreds of emails that answer the same question—such as “We have unused pharmaceuticals that will expire in three months, how can I properly dispose of them?”—it will be much easier to post the answer on Yammer and build a knowledge database. We’ll be able to improve inventory management in a social context. If a hospital needs 400 boxes of flea and tick medication, but is required to purchase a minimum order of 1,000 boxes, the staff could post the availability of 600 boxes on Yammer for another hospital to use—saving everyone time and money.

The hospital manager who won our first VCA NEXT competition proposed innovative ways to solve major staffing issues with our hospitals. As a result, we discovered that StaffHub within Office 365 was the perfect solution. For example, hospital managers can efficiently notify staff and fill open shifts, access and share content, set schedules, communicate key messages, and provide better shift management. Our client service reps will be able to manage their schedules as well. With Office 365, when hospital managers, regional medical directors, doctors, HR staff, and acquisitions teams need information on the go, they can easily access data from their mobile devices. Doctors will carry mobile devices to consult clients’ files and make notes, so we’ll be able to eliminate all our paperwork. And our Acquisitions department is looking forward to using Microsoft Teams to project manage hospital acquisitions.

Data protection is paramount in our company, and we’re confident that our data is highly secure with Microsoft and Office 365. We now have the ability to define appropriate access to team sites and documents, an important feature for VCA. For example, we have protected medical documents that can be shared only with a select few individuals who are working on a case, so creating location-based and role-based access to these documents saves time and effort, helping to protect pet and client information.

When I travel around to different VCA hospitals to speak to our employees about our new VCA Innovation department and the new Microsoft services that we are deploying, I can feel their excitement to see what’s coming next. They can already imagine how powerful this new “oneness” approach will be. Knowing that we’re making the company more efficient, while enabling a culture of sharing ideas, is driving a sense of pride that’s key to helping us achieve our mission statement: “Where your pet’s health is our top priority and excellent service is our goal.”

—Brandon Antin

New Office 365 app launcher and Office.com help you be more productive on the web

More than ever before, users expect an unparalleled productivity experience on the web. As we continue to expand the broad set of online productivity tools available to Office 365 customers, we are also committed to improving the experiences that help you understand, navigate, and collaborate across the entire Office 365 ecosystem.

Today, we’re announcing a redesigned web experience for Office.com, an easy-to-remember URL to help you sign in to Office 365 and get to all your apps, documents, sites, and people. We’ve also simplified the Office 365 app launcher to help you open and switch between your web apps easier. Finally, we’re introducing the new Office 365 gallery to provide Office 365 users with personalized information about the apps, tools, and services already in their subscription.

Get started faster with Office.com

Office.com is the fastest and easiest way to get started with Office 365—by getting to your favorite app quickly, opening your Office documents, starting a new project, or seeing the activity across your shared files. We are also improving the Office.com search experience to allow you to find Office 365 documents, apps, people, and sites directly from Office.com.

Screenshot of the home page of Office.com.

Office 365 app launcher

Updates to the Office 365 app launcher make opening and switching between your web apps easier than ever by highlighting the most used apps in Office 365. The simplified design provides smarter defaults that are relevant to the type of work you do and allows you to access recent online Office documents from anywhere in Office 365.

Screenshot of the new app launcher in Office.com.

Explore your apps

You can now explore and learn about the full range of applications you already have access to with the new Office 365 gallery. Based on your subscription and usage patterns, the gallery provides suggestions on the right app to use for what you are trying to accomplish. You’ll see descriptions, resources, and quick access to install desktop or mobile versions. Click Explore all your apps from Office.com or the Office 365 app launcher to access the gallery.

Image of the new Office 365 gallery, where you can explore apps.

Office 365 customers will see these changes roll out soon. Watch the Microsoft Mechanics session below to learn more. If you’re attending Microsoft Ignite this year, be sure to check out BRK1050—New web experiences in Office 365 that empower your users to get an inside look at these new experiences.

—The Office 365 team

Personal finance—lessons learned from an online shop

Mastering personal finances can often start with something as simple as holding a garage sale or opening an online shop. Keeping track of what it takes to manage sales helps you figure out what’s needed to make sure your own finances stay in order.

Sisters Devin, Quinn, and Alexis decided to try their luck with an online shop when they were left with a house full of antiques after their grandmother passed away. They started Bachelor’s Button Vintage to sell all the marvelous old things they inherited but didn’t need.

Sisters Devin, Quinn, and Alexis of Bachelor’s Button Vintage.

Each sister brought her unique skills to running the online store. Quinn, a teacher, used her writing skills to write product descriptions. Photographer Alexis lent her ability to create great shots needed for their items, and Devin added her design experience to put a shop together. Their collective experience made them realize how important their own personal finances were and how a tool like Excel could really help them keep track of their own budgets.

They’ve found that running a small business can wreak havoc on personal finances if they’re not mindful of how fast expenses can add up.

“You have to be especially careful when you’re paying for a lot of things out of your own pocket. Of course, you want to grow your business, but you also need to strike a balance with your personal life,” says Quinn.

Work, friends, and family keep the sisters all super busy, so they like to keep it as simple as possible.

“We use Excel to track our monthly expenditures tied to our Etsy shop, flea market booths, and marketing efforts,” says Alexis.

“We’ll never be finance gurus, but we have learned a few things about work-life balance,” says Alexis. “It seems overwhelming when you look at the big picture, but you just have to tackle it one item at a time, day by day. We would say to first decide what you want to do and start with the fun stuff to get you excited—like coming up with a name and a logo and researching your products. It also helps not having a hard deadline to launch so it takes the pressure off to do it right. Excel was the perfect way to get all the information on one page and share it,” she adds. They also find that at work or at home, their to-do lists can get pretty long, and they soon realized how important it is to stay on top of things and complete tasks right away or make note of it in the moment. Devin, in particular, likes to color-code items in the monthly budget.

“Graphs and charts make it easy to understand where we’re at and where we’re headed at a glance. We keep things pretty basic—red for out of stock, green for sold, and yellow for items listed for sale,” she says.

Between inventory, household expenses, mortgages, and car payments, there’s so much data that can inform financial planning. Excel helps them visualize their accounts and expenses, so they can keep track of their progress and make better financial decisions.

The sisters are eager to use Excel’s money management features, like Financial Vision, Budget Wheel, or Bill Paid Tracker.

Here are some tips from Alexis, Devin, and Quinn to help you with your personal finances:

Strike while the iron is hot—Track your spending in the moment, on the go, wherever you are.

Focus on what matters to you—In their case, the sisters agreed to set their shop’s sales goals to reflect their personal goals, so they could enjoy treats like vacationing in the tropics during freezing Chicago winters.

Visualize your future—Add visuals around key goals to remind you where you’re headed.

While starting Bachelor’s Button Vintage has taught them how business and personal finance are two sides of the same coin—Excel was the tool that got them all on the same page. For Devin, Alexis, and Quin, tracking the past, staying mindful of the present, and saving for the future are the keys to their financial success.

If you have Office 365, take a look at our Excel templates to help you stay on top of your finances.

Visit Bachelor’s Button Vintage on Facebook and take a peek at their online shop.

Take control of your personal brand with Office

These days—with so many social media channels competing for our attention—creating a personal brand is the best way to stand out from that vast crowd vying for attention online. According to Mel Carson of Seattle-based Delightful Communications, crafting your personal brand statement can help you take control of where you want your career to go.

Mel has helped everyone from pet groomers to Fortune 500 CEOs develop their personal brands. “A personal brand statement is your shopfront to the hundreds of people looking to hire, partner, and connect with you,” says Mel. “Spend some time crafting your personal brand statement properly and it will stand you in good stead until the day you retire.”

Profile image of Mel Carson, of Seattle-based Delightful Communications.“Find your mission—having a mission in the public domain acts as a signpost and filter as well as gives personal accountability,” says Mel. “Create a mission statement that gives anyone reading it no doubt of where you want your career to be headed.”

Another pointer from Mel is to remember you do have great value—it may come in all sorts of accomplishments, so it’s important to articulate it in a few different ways.

“Your experience, length of time in industry, who you have worked for in the past, your educational background, and what you’re passionate about focusing on next, all give an indication of your worth to a potential employer or client,” says Mel. “Including some value indicators, both from your own and your current businesses/company’s perspective, is an easy—but often overlooked—way of perfecting a more compelling personal brand.”

One crucial thing to keep in mind is to avoid buzzwords and hyperbole when describing who you are and what you do.

Mel will tell you he’s not a fan of using big, fancy filler words in a personal branding statement or LinkedIn profile. “Take some time to craft a statement that shows the real you— intelligently and honestly—without seeming overblown or a lacking self-awareness.”

It’s also important to use the right tools to help you track the goals you’re working toward. For instance, Mel not only uses Excel in his business for project management, budget forecasting, vacation tracking, and client reporting, he’s also found it’s super valuable for building a digital personal brand, because it lets you take advantage of data and analytics.

Mel advises keeping track of your metrics to see how well you’re doing with your personal branding. “We use a number of tools to measure influence and use Excel to download and manipulate data and report certain KPIs (Key Performance Indicators),” says Mel. “Extracting data from social media channels helps tell great stories about people’s personal brands and makes Excel a valuable asset.”

At home, he uses Excel for tracking monthly budgets and “working out where all our money goes!” he laughs. (Mel’s two daughters are just learning how to play Bingo. His five-year-old is starting to do chores to earn money, so the Kids Budget Bingo template for PowerPoint is something he’s keen to explore with her.)

Mel’s final advice: Once you have your personal brand statement written, get it out to the virtual world and find out what works and what doesn’t. Use Office 365 apps like Excel to help make the feedback you receive accessible and understandable. Above all, keep honing your message so it accurately reflects the real you.

Ready to check out some extra features we’ve developed to help you on your career path? If you have Office 365, take a look at our Excel templates.

Visit Delightful Communications to learn about Mel’s company.

Devon Energy uses Microsoft 365 to maximize productivity in a commodity business

Devon logo.

Today’s post was written by Matt Harper, director of information security and infrastructure at Devon Energy.

Profile picture of Matt Harper, director of information security and infrastructure at Devon Energy.The oil business is a tight market because we get paid the same amount for a barrel of oil as our competitors, and oil prices are depressed right now. This means that we have to operate very efficiently to make money. We’re adopting a cloud-first mindset and using Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Azure to help us do that.

Devon Energy is one of the largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies in North America. We produce about 250,000 barrels of oil and 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. We’re based in Oklahoma City, but the vast majority of our 3,500 employees work in the field, at drilling and production sites. We want to make our employees as productive as possible, wherever they are.

Over the years, we’ve deployed many technologies that support Devon’s business. What makes Microsoft 365 Enterprise unique is that it includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), and has the potential to empower all our users.

We’re making Windows 10 our standard operating system for nearly 8,000 desktop and laptop computers. This will give our employees a better cloud experience and allow us to use the security capabilities built into EMS. We’re also looking forward to using Windows 10 roaming profiles to support more remote workforce capabilities. We’re very interested in the advanced authentication capabilities like bio-metrics, anomalous user behavior detection, and data protection capabilities that EMS provides.

Devon is a data-driven company, and we use sophisticated digital tools to find oil and gas in rock formations and reservoirs. The challenge is to get the right data to the right people at the right time. Office 365 will give our field workers new capabilities to access that data immediately—from any device—to make a drilling decision, repair a well, approve a purchase order, or expedite delivery of needed materials to a work site. Our field employees are making decisions in real-time about where to position a drill bit a mile underground to produce the best results, and often they need to consult with engineers and petrotechnical professionals back in Oklahoma City or Calgary, Alberta. By using Skype for Business Online on their mobile devices, they can connect to colleagues 1,000 miles away and get the input they need. Our time-to-productivity has improved because of this easier access to data; in some cases, we’ve reduced hours to minutes.

Another example of empowering our workforce is the grassroots do-it-yourself training videos that have sprung up. This started as a simple communications tool for the IT department. Now, other parts of our business have adopted it, as employees have figured out how to make videos on their smartphones or laptops and share them with colleagues over Skype for Business or SharePoint Online. Soon, a field operator might record a repair or installation procedure and share it with others online. Or someone in accounting might add narration to a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation to make their content more impactful and clear. Our people are our differentiators, and Office 365 helps them collaborate in ways that directly benefit the business.

Power BI is another example. Because it’s built into Microsoft 365 E5, we’ve been able to commoditize dashboard creation so anyone can do it—and that has dramatically increased usage. Dashboards are important to the way our management makes decisions. It simplifies access to and understanding of complex data whether production or financial.

Beyond Microsoft 365 E5, we’re moving line-of-business applications and our disaster recovery operations to Microsoft Azure. This offers rapid application deployment, speed to market, and scalability, with potential for significant cost savings.

Our ability to right-size our technology is key to managing costs in the cloud. We continually buy and sell field assets, so our workforce continually expands and contracts. Previously, we would build for peak capacity and end up with underutilized datacenter resources. With Azure and Microsoft 365 Enterprise, we can right-size our technologies and scale as needed.

As an IT professional, I love it when IT is viewed as a business enabler rather than a cost center. The Microsoft Cloud empowers all our employees in very tangible ways.

—Matt Harper

Event planning made easier with Office

If you’ve ever had to plan an event, you know how tricky getting all your ducks in a row can be. Chiara Adin of the NA Collective—a New York City–based event agency that creates memorable experiences for clients like H&M, The North Face, and Pandora—has some pointers to help you get everything done on time and on budget.

“Whether you’re planning your wedding, a fundraising event, or hosting an event for 500 people, start with a baseline of how much you’re looking to spend and a way to track your purchases and expenses throughout the planning process,” says Chiara says. “Excel is a great tool for this—use its mathematical capabilities to total and track your expenses in one place.”

Chiara stresses the importance of thinking it all through by taking some time to sit down and visualize your guests’ journey from start to finish. “This will ensure you’re not missing any major details like: How do they find out about it? How do they RSVP or do they need to? How do they get there? What do they do when they get there? Is there anything special you want them to remember about your event after they leave?”

In addition to keeping track of finicky details in a spreadsheet, you might think about laying your plans out in a presentation if you need to share them with colleagues, sponsors, or partners.

“We make PowerPoint presentations for every single event we produce so that everyone is on the same page and you can have visuals of all your details,” says Chiara.

Here are Chiara’s top three tips to help you prepare for any big event:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.

“You can’t do everything by yourself and you can’t be an expert at everything unless you’re a super hero!” she laughs. “It’s all about reaching out to your contacts, especially people that you think have already done something similar or can provide some insights. In the event space, it really is all about knowing the right people to do the right job, and you’ll never know if you don’t ask,” says Chiara.

2. Delegate when possible.

It’s a rare thing to see an event pulled off well by just one person. Most of the time it becomes too stressful and disorganized because no one can be everywhere at once. Trying to save money by doing everything yourself may save some dollars, but will probably cost you your sanity, and make the event a miserable affair for you.

“If you don’t have funds, ask some friends or people with aligned interests or your family to help,” says Chiara. “I guarantee you’ll come up with at least one or more volunteers willing to take on a specific task at your event.”

3. Stay calm and organized.

No matter how big or small the event is, stress will build up as you get closer to the day. Even though you think you still have tons of time to get lots of little things done, that time evaporates quickly—especially if you’re trying to do everything yourself.

Think about using Excel to help you manage all those budgets, lists, or timelines. The more organized you are in your planning, keeping on top of things will help ensure you don’t forget details when you get stressed.

“There will ALWAYS be something that gets messed up last minute. It’s inevitable. But the ability to think on your feet and make calls to the right people will always save you in a pinch,” says Chiara. “If you’ve followed the steps above when the last final ball drops, you’ll be cool and collected to figure out the best way to fix the problem.”

Apps like Excel and PowerPoint can make your event go that much smoother and help you stay organized, calm, and collected. If you have Office 365, take a look at some of our templates to get started.

Microsoft and Adobe announce expanded partnership

Today, Microsoft and Adobe announced new joint offerings to increase workforce productivity and drive more efficient business processes. Microsoft Teams, the new chat-based workspace in Office 365, is now the preferred collaboration service for Adobe Creative Cloud, Document Cloud, and Experience Cloud. Adobe will make Microsoft Azure its preferred cloud platform for Adobe Sign. And Adobe Sign, the e-signature service in Adobe Document Cloud, is now Microsoft’s preferred e-signature solution. Said Abhay Parasnis, chief technology officer at Adobe:

“Together, we will develop integrated cloud services with best-in-class solutions like Adobe Sign and Office 365 that help businesses digitally transform while delivering great experiences to their customers.”

This partnership builds on Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and every organization to achieve more. Learn more about the Microsoft and Adobe partnership here.

TD redefines banking in the digital age with the Microsoft Cloud to empower employees and transform the customer experience

TD Bank Group logo.

Today’s post was written by Jeff Henderson, executive vice president and CIO of TD Bank Group.

Profile image of Jeff Henderson, executive vice president and CIO of TD Bank Group.Growing from Canada’s smallest bank to one of North America’s largest in just over 20 years, TD Bank Group (TD) is in the habit of planning for the future. As we continue to expand, we are taking bold steps to make sure that the technology we use grows with us. Transforming technology at TD starts with listening to our employees and creating a “Workplace of the Future” that supports enhanced mobility and collaboration across the organization. We are deploying Microsoft Office 365 to empower employees to be more mobile and productive, so they can continue to provide the legendary customer service that has always set us apart.

Through a digital transformation in the workplace, we are positioning the bank for the future. Gone are the days where banks can expect customers to come to them. Enhancing mobility for our 90,000 employees supports how we accommodate customer expectations for great in-person service and across new digital channels. So, with more mobile employees, such as our mobile mortgage lenders, we are serving customers where it’s most convenient for them. OneDrive for Business Online cloud-based storage provides the biggest impact in terms of improved mobility for our employees because we can access and share files regardless of location or device—plus we save money on storage costs. And employees will be able to edit and share files on the fly because they’ll have access to all the Office 365 services from their mobile devices.

By making Microsoft applications available on mobile phones, and managing and securing them with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security, we can free employees from their desks, so they can be productive anywhere. We’re designing flex-based workspaces with unassigned desks to accommodate this new level of mobile productivity. And just as we’re redesigning our physical spaces, we’re also moving from a traditional methodology to an agile methodology, where we’ll be using Office 365 collaboration services to support a new era of teamwork across functional areas of the organization.

However, from a technology enablement perspective, we can’t deliver anything to our employees that would jeopardize the security and trust that we have built up with our customers over the bank’s assets and information. We are impressed with the integrated, layered approach to cloud security that we see with Microsoft, including products like Customer Lockbox, that provides us with the requisite level of control over access to our content in the TD tenant by Microsoft service personnel.

The interoperability of Microsoft cloud-based services simplifies our job in IT, so we don’t have to spend time integrating point solutions. And the evergreen nature of its cloud services ensures that we remain current on the latest technologies, ultimately reducing risk. Inclusivity is an important aspect of our Workplace of the Future, and we see Microsoft as a leader in the assistive technologies space. Microsoft understands the regulatory compliance environment within the banking industry and has been far and away the most accommodating in working with us to meet our needs as they pertain to our financial regulatory obligations.

In our push to modernize, Office 365 has already revealed impactful cost savings. With 90,000 employees and 110,000 Exchange Online mailboxes, we’ve saved 50 percent in email costs, and expect additional savings to come from consolidating our devices reducing storage costs and limiting the number of third-party applications in our IT portfolio.

As we achieve our vision for a new workplace and corporate culture focused on mobility and agility, we’re positioning ourselves for success in the digital world, ensuring that our products and services continue to resonate with customers well into the future.

—Jeff Henderson