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.
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.
Today’s post was written by 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.
When Jennifer Sarkilahti started handcrafting jewelry in her small New York apartment it was purely as a creative outlet. Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the city, she began selling a few pieces online and Odette New York was born. For Sarkilahti, the real challenge wasn’t finding a market for her jewelry, it was finding a way to stay connected to the creative process even as the business grew. Office 365 played a key role in their evolution, adapting to the unique needs of their artistic business.
Staying small as a growth strategy
When it came to the growth strategy of the business, Sarkilahti was adamant about not getting too big, too fast. Keeping things local allowed her to stay connected to both the creative process and her manufacturing partners. “As a business, we value that we are able to make our product locally and take a slower, more thoughtful approach to manufacturing. Although the costs are higher to produce domestically, we can maintain a connection to the jewelry and the people that have a hand in making it throughout the entire process,” says Sarkilahti.
An intuitive software solution
Sarkilahti readily admits that technology doesn’t come as naturally to her as the artistic process, and credits Office 365 for helping her keep the business running smoothly while she focuses on the creative side of things. Sarkilahti states, “I’ve found the Office 365 products to be intuitive and easy to learn, as well as capable of adapting to whatever our needs of the moment might be. We use Excel and Outlook to help us create an efficient workflow process within our studio and communicate with people outside our studio, including vendors, retailers and customers. And on the creative side, we use PowerPoint to create mood boards for new collections, photoshoots and look books.”
Their slower approach to growth is certainly paying off. Odette New York currently has over 70 accounts, including both domestic and international retailers, and has been featured in major publications such as Vogue and Elle. Perhaps more importantly, Sarkilahti spends her days doing what she loves most—creating beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in her stunning Brooklyn studio.
To make Office 365 more valuable for your small business, we are announcing three new applications coming to Office 365 Business Premium:
Microsoft Connections—A simple-to-use email marketing service.
Microsoft Listings—An easy way to publish your business information on top sites.
Microsoft Invoicing—A new way to create professional invoices and get paid fast.
We’re also introducing the Office 365 Business center, a central place where you can manage these business apps and get an end-to-end view of your business. In addition, we’re adding MileIQ, the leading mileage tracking app, as an Office 365 Business Premium subscription benefit. These new services—along with the recently added Microsoft Bookings and Outlook Customer Manager—help you win customers and manage your business.
Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing and the Business center are rolling out in preview over the next few weeks to Office 365 Business Premium subscribers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, starting with those in the First Release program. MileIQ Premium is available to all Business Premium subscribers in the U.S, U.K. and Canada effective today.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these products.
Microsoft Connections—Drive more sales with simple email marketing tools
Email marketing can accelerate sales, but getting started can be overwhelming. With Microsoft Connections, you can easily create professional-looking email marketing campaigns with pre-designed templates for newsletters, announcements or customer referrals. You can also provide simple ways for people to join your mailing list or unsubscribe.
As your mailing list grows, you can manage your subscribers by creating segments to efficiently target specific groups of customers. Performance charts and subscriber activity updates track open rate, clicks, new sign-ups, new customers, offer redemptions and unsubscribed numbers for each email campaign, so you can see what is and is not working.
Microsoft Connections is available on the web, and on mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Microsoft Listings—Get your business discovered online by new customers
Getting your business listed online is a great way to be discovered by prospective customers, but it can be time consuming to set up your online presence, keep information like business hours up-to-date and monitor performance across sites. Microsoft Listings makes it easy to publish and manage your business listing on Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp.
Microsoft Listings includes a web dashboard that lets you easily monitor ratings and reviews.
When you update your business profile in Microsoft Listings, the changes automatically populate across Facebook, Google and Bing. And what’s more, you can monitor online views and reviews of your listings across sites from a single dashboard. This makes it easier to understand feedback from your customers and strengthen your online reputation.
Microsoft Invoicing—Get paid fast with hassle-free invoices and online payments
Getting estimates and invoices out on time, tracking pending payments and processing payments quickly are critical to keep things running smoothly. But it can tedious and confusing to keep track of information in different systems of record or even on paper. Microsoft Invoicing helps you quickly create professional-looking estimates and invoices, so you get paid quickly.
Microsoft Invoicing is available on the web, and on mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Microsoft Invoicing works with PayPal, so you can accept credit and debit cards online. A connector to QuickBooks lets you sync customer and catalog data, and transfer invoicing information to your accountant.
Manage from one place with the new Office 365 Business center
The Office 365 Business center brings Bookings, Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings and Microsoft Invoicing together in a central location—so you have easy access to your business apps and data. It features a unified dashboard where you can view key metrics from all the business apps, including total outstanding invoices, the number of appointments scheduled, the impressions across Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp, and the number of new subscribers and sent campaigns.
Office 365 Business center lets you access via the web.
The Business center includes an activity feed, so you can see the details of what’s happening within each of the apps—making it easy to keep up-to-date on new customer appointments, invoices and payments being created or updated by the employees in your business. The activity feed also provides suggestions on what actions to take next, such as alerting you that a payment is overdue and it’s time to resend an invoice.
Because the new business apps are built to work together, you don’t waste valuable time setting up connectors or transferring data manually. A contact in one business app is automatically recognized in another, so you don’t have to input data multiple times. As a business owner, you also have full control over who on your team gets access to which business apps and related information.
MileIQ—The smarter way to track your miles comes to Office 365 Business Premium
If you drive a personal car for work purposes such as customer sales visits, partner meetings or trade conferences, you know that tracking and reporting your miles for tax deduction or expense reimbursement can be a hassle. That’s why we’re pleased to add MileIQ—the leading mileage tracking app on iOS and Android—as a benefit of your Office 365 Business Premium subscription.
MileIQ offers a simple, smarter way to track your miles—with automatic drive detection and mileage logging, easy one-swipe classification as business or personal, and comprehensive reporting. MileIQ has already helped over four million customers save time and money—saving customers $6,900 on average per year in deductions or reimbursements, and 2 hours a week of time spent logging drives. You can log unlimited drives every month with the MileIQ Premium subscription that you get with Office 365 Business Premium. MileIQ is currently available to subscribers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.
Try the new services and let us know what you think
We are excited to get your feedback as you use these new services in your Office 365 Business Premium subscription. Here’s how to get started:
Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing and the Business center—These are rolling out in preview over the next few weeks to Office 365 Business Premium subscribers in U.S., U.K. and Canada. Once they are activated in your account, you’ll see a Business center icon on the welcome screen after you sign in. Just click the icon to get started. If you want early access, please visit our support page to learn how to join the Office 365 First Release program. As you use the apps, let us know what you think by providing feedback in our feedback forum.
An icon introducing the new business apps will appear when you have signed in to Office 365.
MileIQ—To activate the MileIQ benefit of your Office 365 Business Premium subscription in the U.S., U.K. or Canada, visit www.mileiq.com/office365. We’re eager to hear from you—please share your feedback and suggestions about MileIQ at email@example.com.
Frequently asked questions
Q. When will Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, and the Business center be available outside of the preview?
A. We expect these to be generally available before the end of the year.
Q. Will all users in my organization, who have Business Premium subscriptions, get access to Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings and Microsoft Invoicing by default?
A. The Office 365 global admin role controls who has access to these apps. Standard users will not have access to Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings and Microsoft Invoicing by default. They can request access in the Business center. Global admins can accept or decline their request from Admin center > Settings > Services & add-ins > Business apps.
Q. Where can I learn more about Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, and Microsoft Invoicing?
Q. How do I activate the MileIQ benefit of my Office 365 subscription?
A. Start by visiting www.mileiq.com/office365 to create a new MileIQ account or sign in using your existing one. Then enter your Office 365 credentials so we can check your eligibility and activate your subscription benefit. Note: You can use any email address you wish when creating a MileIQ account, but be sure to use your Office 365 credentials on the “Check Eligibility” step.
Q. What if I already have a paid MileIQ subscription?
A. If you are currently a paid MileIQ subscriber and you also have Office 365 Business Premium, we’ll convert your existing account. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will get back to you.
*QuickBooks and QB are registered trademarks and service marks of Intuit Inc., displayed under license.
Today’s post was written by Ryan Fuller, general manager of Workplace Analytics.
Microsoft Workplace Analytics—a powerful new organizational analytics solution—is now generally available as an add-on to any Office 365 enterprise plan.
According to a recent Forrester report, increasing employee productivity is the number one priority for C-level executives in the next year, with 96 percent of respondents citing it as a critical or high imperative. Workplace Analytics provides unprecedented behavioral insights that can be used to improve productivity, workforce effectiveness and employee engagement.
New insights from Office 365
Workplace Analytics taps into Office 365 email and calendar metadata, including to/from data, subject lines and timestamps, to shine a light on how the organization collaborates and spends time. It turns this digital exhaust—the data that comes naturally from our everyday work—into a set of behavioral metrics that can be used to understand what’s going on in an organization.
Organization level collaboration insights in Workplace Analytics.
Microsoft has enabled Workplace Analytics with built-in privacy and compliance capabilities. Customers own their Office 365 data and decide how to apply insights generated by Workplace Analytics to solve tough business challenges. Workplace Analytics only leverages metadata that is aggregated and de-identified.
Workplace Analytics was designed with the flexibility to address a broad range of strategic and organizational culture-based initiatives. Let’s take a look at a few ways customers are using Workplace Analytics:
A sales organization in a Fortune 500 company used Workplace Analytics to identify the collaborative patterns of top performers and then scaled those behaviors to the broader sales organization—resulting in a significant increase in sales. Some of these insights were expected, like the amount of time spent with customers. But others were new, like the size of the person’s internal network, which may be an indicator of the salesperson’s ability to get answers and solve customer questions.
Exploring internal network size metrics for the sales organization in Workplace Analytics.
Freddie Mac used Workplace Analytics to drive a cultural change with managers. In looking at how time-usage metrics are related to engagement and retention, they found that the behaviors of managers were pivotal in determining employee engagement and retention. Behaviors, such as 1:1 manager time, level of leadership exposure given to employees and the degree to which work can be distributed evenly across an organization, are measurable through Workplace Analytics.
The collaboration insights from Workplace Analytics were used by an organization to partner with its commercial real estate company, CBRE, to do space planning. They analyzed the metadata attached to employee calendar items to calculate the travel time associated with meetings. They found that as a result of the relocation, each employee reduced their travel time to meetings by 46 percent—resulting in a combined total of 100 hours saved per week across all 1,200 employees involved in the move.
Every organization has unique business questions, which is why we’ve included the ability to create custom queries directly within Workplace Analytics. Data analysts can choose from a unique set of collaboration metrics to explore activities and trends within the business, including time spent in email, time in meetings, after-hours time and network size. Analysts can also create custom queries and filter to aggregated population subsets including regions, roles and functions.
“Workplace Analytics is becoming an essential part of our toolkit,” said Tom Springer, partner at Bain. “It shows us where and how our clients are deploying their scarcest resources: the time, talent and energy of their people. Workplace Analytics consistently yields unique insights into resource allocation, collaboration behaviors and organizational networks. We integrate these insights with broader perspectives on strategy, operating model and results delivery to help our clients organize for maximum productivity.”
Building a digital, data-driven enterprise
At Microsoft, Workplace Analytics has yielded significant insights. “We believe building a true digital, data-driven enterprise requires organizations to empower and connect their people across everything—people, processes, data and systems,” said Kathleen Hogan, chief people officer at Microsoft. “Our HR Business Insights group is using Workplace Analytics across a variety of initiatives—from understanding the behaviors driving increased employee engagement, to identifying the qualities of top-performing managers who are leading Microsoft’s cultural transformation from within. We believe people analytics is a competitive necessity for any HR team.”
Workplace Analytics is available now as an add-on to any Office 365 enterprise plan. Learn more about how enterprise customers can access organizational insights from Workplace Analytics in Office 365.
Mellicia Marx is in the business of transformation. She runs Poplin Style Direction, a personal styling business that ensures a client’s look is on point. She’s helped new mothers revive their wardrobes, and other clients dress for new office environments confidently. “I love watching people transform,” she says.
Mellicia helps people understand which garments best complement their shape, personality and lifestyle. She teaches them how to shop, what to wear and how to wear it. Mellicia finds the secret style sauce that elevates each client.
Polishing a business’s image
Mellicia also knows that the success of her business depends on styling, too. The look and feel of her business and good communication with clients are key to growth. Through her website, she introduces clients to the styling process and options, and provides a private client access area where she shares personalized advice with each client. The website also includes her blog, the “voice” of her business, where she offers styling advice that has proven to be a powerful tool for attracting clients.
Mellicia finds Microsoft Word to be invaluable to maintaining her online presence because it makes it easy to share information with her web designer for needed updates. “Word is user-friendly,” she says. “You can figure out everything you need to do in five minutes or less.” She also spends a lot of time traveling between clients, and Microsoft Office mobile apps help her keep business moving when she’s not at her desk. “I have Office on my iPad Mini, so I can view and make edits to a document and respond to my designer or other contractors quickly.”
Structuring work-life balance
While rewarding in its freedom and creativity, being an entrepreneur can also make it more challenging to find work-life balance. Mellicia’s business is built on relationships, and nurturing them takes time. Efficiency in her personal life is crucial. “Word helps me organize our home life,” she explains. For example, she uses Word tables to organize her son’s activities, and to coordinate with the families of his friends who do the same activities or camps. “It keeps us all on the same page.”
Weaving retailer data with client needs
The amount of data involved in styling can be overwhelming. “I share a giant, complex spreadsheet with a contract stylist. We use it to track brands, online retailers and boutiques,” Mellicia says. “My Microsoft Excel sheet is a vital resource.”
The spreadsheet contains information Mellicia can use for clients, and in her blog and social media posts. It includes trend, sizing and style data categorized by brand and retailer. “Excel lets us easily sort this information depending on the task at hand,” she says. For example, she uses the split planes feature of Excel to focus on a single client and see which retailers may carry a needed item. She also easily searches the data to find a specific size or trend item. “It would be impossible for me to track this information without Excel.”
Mellicia and the contract stylist share the spreadsheet online, so the information can be updated easily by either of them. “It’s exciting to open up the spreadsheet and rediscover retailers or brands I may have forgotten about,” she explains. “More resources for me means more resources for clients—and all in all, it lets me do my job better.”
Mellicia’s also considered some of the newer features in Excel, like Maps. “This could become useful for our marketing,” she says. “With Excel Power Maps, I could plot client locations and use this information to create Facebook ads targeted to those areas or host an event where a concentration of clients is located.”
Giving back with panache
Despite her busy schedule, Mellicia finds time to give back as an entrepreneur. She volunteers with YouthCare, a nonprofit that provides services, education and training to homeless youth. Mellicia hosts styling sessions for youths, ages 16–24. “I help them translate the authenticity of their personal style to clothes that are appropriate for job interviews and work,” she explains.
Mellicia uses Microsoft PowerPoint to give presentations at YouthCare. “It’s great for these kids to be exposed to business tools like PowerPoint,” she says. “Also, my whole team of volunteers uses it—so if I can’t make it to a presentation, any one of them can take over and run the show.”
Just as a bold wardrobe is built on basics, Mellicia relies on Office as a foundation for her business. Whether it’s communicating with colleagues; organizing, sorting and analyzing retailer data; or presenting fashion concepts in her volunteer work, Office is her go-to technology. “I can’t control what software my contractors or clients use, or their level of comfort with different technologies—so it’s especially important I use tools that are easy for anyone,” she says. “Office offers that and more. It lets me spend my time on work that matters—providing great style options for my clients.”
Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.
At the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference next week, Microsoft will showcase the latest ways we’re empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow. This month’s Office 365 updates are another step on this journey, with the broad availability of new classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams, security enhancements and more. Read on for the details.
The new classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams are now broadly available
We’re excited to announce that the new classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams are now rolling out to Office 365 for Education customers. For students, Teams helps create safe and engaging classroom environments with rich conversations including text, video and voice, as well as custom class themes, stickers and emojis. Educators can save time with student class rosters automatically populated from the school’s information system. They can also move effortlessly between planning lessons, creating content and providing feedback with the help of integrated OneNote Class Notebooks, Assignments and Office apps. Lastly, Teams provides a hub for educators and staff to connect with each other outside the classroom (for example, in professional learning communities), all from a single experience within Office 365 for Education.
With classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams, everything students need is right at their fingertips with OneNote Class Notebook, Assignments and Office apps built into every class.
Availability: The classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams are now rolling out to Office 365 for Education customers in 181 markets and 25 languages on Windows desktops, Macs, Windows Mobile, iOS and Android, as well as the web.
Office 365 security, protection and compliance updates
Several Office 365 updates this month help enterprise subscribers better protect sensitive information, manage risk and stay ahead of threats within their organization.
Windows Information Protection expands to Office on Windows desktops—Windows Information Protection (WIP) support is expanding beyond Office mobile apps to Office on Windows desktops. WIP helps prevent accidental data leaks while letting your employees maintain control over their personal data. They can simply designate content created in these apps as “work” or “personal,” so your IT department can protect or remove only business data. Learn more about Windows Information Protection.
Availability: Windows Information Protection support in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook on Windows desktops is now available for Office 365 commercial customers with Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5. It was already supported in Office mobile apps for Windows tablets and phones.
Additional Office 365 security and compliance updates—This month we also announced additional updates to help you manage threats and protect sensitive information. Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) now offers enhanced reporting on malicious emails detected and blocked in your organization. New ATP Safe Links policy configurations let you block specific URLs, customize policies for specific people and more. Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery now provides a more streamlined user interface for managing the entire case lifecycle. It also now extracts text from images using optical character recognition and helps you supervise employee communications to comply with internal policies and regulatory bodies. Lastly, a new security information and event management (SIEM) connector for Office 365 Advanced Security Management (ASM) enables your organization to centralize the monitoring of ASM alerts with your existing SIEM software.
Enhanced threat protection reporting provides better visibility into malicious emails.
Availability: Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, Advanced Data Governance, Advanced eDiscovery and Advanced Security Management updates are available and included in Office 365 E5 and Secure Productive Enterprise E5 customers.
Additional updates for Office 365 commercial customers
This month, we have additional updates for our commercial customers, providing your employees with new ways to collect feedback in surveys, as well as manage and share videos internally.
Microsoft Forms is available for commercial public preview—Previously available for education customers, Microsoft Forms is rolling out for commercial customers, providing a lightweight web tool for creating surveys, quizzes and polls. It helps anybody in your organization easily collect customer feedback, measure employee satisfaction, organize team events and more.
Microsoft Forms is a lightweight web tool for creating surveys, quizzes and polls.
Availability: Microsoft Forms is rolling out in public preview for Office 365 commercial customers in First Release.
Microsoft Stream is generally available—Microsoft Stream is an intelligent video service for commercial customers to easily and securely upload, share, manage and view videos in a single experience. Speech-to-text transcription, face detection, intelligent search and more make video consumption more efficient. IT can also tailor Microsoft Stream to fit their organization’s needs with management and security capabilities. Get started with Microsoft Stream.
Microsoft Stream leverages face detection, speech-to-text and more to enhance productivity.
Availability: Microsoft Stream is generally available for Office 365 commercial customers with Enterprise and Education plans in 181 markets and 44 languages.
Improvements to intelligent services in Office 365
This month’s updates to cloud-powered intelligent services in Office 365 apps and services help save you time, produce better results and share insights on your work habits with your coworkers.
Find credible sources and content from within more apps—We’re extending Researcher beyond Word on Windows desktops to Word on Macs, as well as to OneNote for Windows 10. Researcher helps you find and incorporate reliable sources and content for your outline notes or papers in fewer steps. Powered by the Bing Knowledge Graph, Researcher helps you explore material related to your topic and add it in one click, without leaving the app. Learn more about Researcher.
Researcher helps you find and incorporate reliable sources and content without leaving the app.
Availability: Researcher is now available in OneNote for Windows 10, for all Office 365 subscribers. Researcher is now available in Word on Macs for Office Insider Fast. Researcher was already available in Word on Windows desktops.
Share your work habits with MyAnalytics—Now you can share MyAnalytics insights about your personal working style with others. This can help spur conversations around productivity habits among the people you work with, driving new norms around meetings, emails and after-hours work. MyAnalytics insights are private by default until you share them. Learn more in this MyAnalytics blog.
Now you can share MyAnalytics insights about your personal working style with others.
Availability: Sharing in MyAnalytics is now available for all Office 365 commercial customers with MyAnalytics.
Following the launch of Microsoft Forms in Education last summer, we heard from businesses that they need an easy-to-use tool for creating surveys, quizzes and polls. Today, we’re rolling out the public preview of Microsoft Forms to our Office 365 commercial subscribers, so you can collect information from customers, employees and partners. The preview is currently rolling out to tenants whose entire organizations are signed up for First Release, and will gradually be available to other tenants in a few months.
Collect information with surveys, quizzes and polls
Microsoft Forms is a simple, lightweight tool that lets you collect customer feedback, measure employee satisfaction and organize team events. You can create a survey in minutes with no training needed, and respondents can fill it out on any browser without having to install a separate app.
Microsoft Forms comes with question branching, so surveys flow the way you want them to. You can also add themes or your company logo, so they look great without a lot of work. Just send out a link and your survey dynamically adapts to every screen, so it’s easy for respondents to fill it out on the go.
Simple, powerful analysis and Microsoft Excel integration
Survey, quiz and poll results are all available in real-time—just navigate to the Responses tab, where you’ll also find auto-generated charts that help you visualize response data in an instant. You can also open all results in Microsoft Excel with one click if you need to conduct more custom, in-depth analysis.
Microsoft Forms Responses tab.
Management and compliance via Office 365
Microsoft Forms is part of the Office 365 suite and adheres to the compliance, security and privacy levels you’ve come to expect from the Office 365 apps. Companies can collect information without users having to go to non-secure solutions, or IT needing to build and maintain custom surveying tools. IT admins can also manage user licenses and enable or disable co-authoring of Microsoft Forms outside their organization.
Microsoft Forms, PowerApps and SharePoint lists
Microsoft Forms offers an easy solution for basic data collection via surveys, quizzes and polls. For more heavy-duty needs, we have announced new tools to create custom forms with PowerApps and SharePoint lists. PowerApps lets you connect to your existing cloud services and data sources to quickly build custom apps that your organization can view, edit and share. When you use it to build an app from a SharePoint list, you can create custom forms ranging from contact lists and travel approvals to purchase requests and customer service tickets. We now have your forms needs covered from basic data collection to custom apps for your organization.
We are excited about rolling out the public preview of Microsoft Forms and have already received a lot of valuable feedback from Office 365 IT admins. Please visit the Microsoft Forms Support page to learn more, and the Microsoft Forms UserVoice page to leave us your questions, comments and recommendations.
Recent updates for security and compliance include enhancements to Advanced Threat Protection, eDiscovery, Advanced Data Governance, Advanced Security Management and expanded support for Windows Information Protection. Read on to learn more about these updates.
Enhancements to threat protection visibility and controls
Office 365 Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) were designed to keep your organization protected against cyber-attacks while supporting end-user productivity. The Office 365 team continues to enhance both EOP and ATP by offering deeper insights and more flexible controls. This month, we are introducing the following new capabilities:
Threat Protection status report—New reporting for ATP and EOP that adds visibility into malicious emails detected and blocked for your organization. This supplements the recently introduced reports in the Security & Compliance Center for ATP Safe Attachments.
Threat Protection status report.
Enhanced quarantine capabilities—Now all emails classified as malware from both EOP and ATP are quarantined. This builds upon the existing quarantine experience by allowing administrators to review and delete emails from quarantine.
New ATP Safe Links Policy features—Four new features build upon the Safe Link policies.
Per-tenant block list—Provides the administrator the ability to block specific URLs.
Email wildcarding for domains and handles—Enables you to save time by writing partial domain/handle names.
Split Safe Links policies—Allows Safe Links policies to be customized for specific user lists in the organization, including groups, individuals and divisions.
Expanded character limit for URLs—Enables blocking/allowing URLs with longer character lengths.
Safe Links Block URL list.
Additional details on these new features can be found in the Microsoft Tech Community, as well as on the EOP and ATP product pages. EOP is offered across our enterprise E1, E3 and E5 suites. ATP is offered as both a standalone SKU or as part of E5.
New features streamline your compliance process using Office 365
Businesses around the world must be able to keep and protect important information and quickly find what’s relevant to continue to meet legal, business and regulatory compliance requirements. At Microsoft, we know how demanding and complex compliance can be and have recently released several new eDiscovery and Data Governance features in Office 365 to support your compliance needs. These features include:
Optical character recognition in Advanced eDiscovery—Extracts text from image files or objects within the files, significantly reducing the amount of manual remediation work required to analyze image files.
Rights management (RMS) decryptionin Office 365 eDiscovery—Automatically decrypts RMS-encrypted email messages at export time when you choose the MSG Export option.
Unified case management—Provides a consistent user interface spanning the eDiscovery capabilities in Office 365, from core to advanced, which helps to reduce potential human errors by streamlining eDiscovery case definition and eliminating several steps in the process.
Unified case management in Advanced eDiscovery.
Visit the Microsoft Tech Community for more details about the new eDiscovery features. Unified case management and RMS decryption are included with Office 365 E3. Optical character recognition is included with Advanced eDiscovery in E5.
Announcing general availability of Supervision capabilities in Office 365 Advanced Data Governance
Many organizations have the need to perform supervision of employee communications. This need stems from internal security and compliance guidelines, or from regulatory bodies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In both cases, failure to have a demonstrable supervision process in place could potentially expose organizations to liability or severe penalties.
To address this need, we’ve released the new Supervision feature in Office 365 Advanced Data Governance. Supervision covers not only email communications, but also third-party communications streams, such as Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg and many more. Visit the Microsoft Tech Community for more details about the general availability of Supervision.
Supervision policies in Office 365 Advanced Data Governance.
Supervision is part of Office 365 Advanced Data Governance, which is available as part of Office 365 E5 or the Office 365 Advanced Compliance SKU.
Windows Information Protection now supports Office desktop applications
In August, we announced our support of Windows Information Protection (WIP) for Office mobile apps on Windows tablets and phones, to help prevent accidental business data leaks while letting users maintain control over their personal data by designating content as “work” or “personal.” We’re pleased to announce we have expanded support for WIP to include the Office 365 ProPlus desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and Skype for Business. This will help provide more comprehensive protection of your business data on Windows 10 devices. To read more about WIP, check out our Microsoft Tech Community blog.
SIEM connector—now available for Office 365 Advanced Security Management
A year ago, we announced a way for you to get greater visibility and control over Office 365 with Advanced Security Management (ASM). Since then, we have added new features to help you better determine shadow IT activity. We also enhanced control over third-party apps connected to Office 365. After these updates, we started hearing that some of you were looking for a way to export alerts to other systems that are integrated into your existing workflows. Today, we are releasing a solution that supports centralized monitoring of ASM alerts with your security information and event management (SIEM) software. Integrating with an SIEM allows you to better protect Office 365 while maintaining your organization’s security workflow, automate your security procedures and correlate between your cloud-based and on-premises events.
Join the Security, Privacy and Compliance Tech Community
These new features help broaden and enhance the scope of security and compliance capabilities within Office 365. Join our Security, Privacy and Compliance Tech Community to further evolve your organization’s security and compliance with these services and learn and contribute to security, privacy and compliance best practices. The Tech Community is a great resource to communicate and learn from your peers—as well as offer your insights on the growing importance of security, privacy and compliance.
Travel is the great connector. Visiting different countries gives us a broader perspective on the world and the people in it. Yasmine El Baggari, founder of Voyaj, wanted to take travel one step further.
Instead of staying in hotels or renting flats, Yasmine believes that matching travelers with hosts in their own homes can create powerful human connections and result in a more peaceful world.
Voyaj users create a profile video to describe their interests and what they offer, and post it to the site. Voyaj then finds the right combination of visitor and host and sets up a homestay for the traveler in the host’s home. From there, a deeper cultural understanding takes root. “It’s about building relationships and a sense of belonging for people—wherever they want to go in the world,” Yasmine says.
Inspiration for a global startup
The idea for Voyaj evolved from Yasmine’s experience as a teenager and a serendipitous Skype call with an uncle who’d moved from Morocco to San Francisco. “I’d never left Morocco,” she recalls. “I spoke to my uncle on Skype and he inspired me to explore the United States and the world.” Eventually, Yasmine toured 48 states, staying in 150 homes and meeting fascinating and enriching people regularly.
“When you’re sitting at a dinner table, you’re better able to build authentic connections and open your mind and your heart,” Yasmine says. That experience changed her life. “It made me a more open-minded person, and I want to bring that feeling to the world, through Voyaj.”
Finding focus with OneNote and organizing ideas with PowerPoint
Startups require focus and strict organization. Whatever funding is available can’t be wasted on inefficiency or unclear direction. For clarity, Yasmine often meditates briefly before starting a new task or giving a presentation. “You have to be aligned with your mission,” she says. “I take this time to remind myself of why I’m doing what I’m doing, and stay focused on the goal.”
Microsoft OneNote and PowerPoint help Yasmine find focus and stay on track. “I use OneNote to plan my ideal day,” she explains. Using the To-Do Tag feature, she creates task lists that can be checked off as they’re completed. Items tagged as a to-do can be found through a search, making it easy to return to important items. “I make sure I’ve checked everything off my list before I go to bed.”
Yasmine frequently pitches Voyaj concepts to potential investors, partners and team members. She uses PowerPoint to create presentations about Voyaj and explain the direction the company’s heading.
PowerPoint features like charts, graphs and embedded video help Yasmine tell the story of Voyaj “in a simple but effective way,” she says. Using the commenting feature, Yasmine and her team members can share their thoughts as they refine each draft for presentation—no matter where each is located.
Coming full circle with Skype collaboration
Yasmine lives in San Francisco now, where she works closely with a team of eight people. “We’re building an empathy algorithm that matches people based on their common values and experiences,” she says.
But the rest of her team—and partners and investors—are widespread. Yasmine’s come a long way from her childhood in Morocco and her first overseas exposure through a Skype call with her San Francisco–based uncle. And Skype has re-entered her life, again making the world a smaller place. “We span five different time zones. Skype helps us come together, communicate, share ideas and open endless possibilities and opportunities for Voyaj,” Yasmine says. “I believe that hospitality can bring the world together. And Office helps me build strong relationships, so we can make this vision a reality.”
Lynn Le founded Society Nine to provide women with combat sports gear made specifically for them. But she was ultimately driven by a goal much greater than that—to empower the fight within every woman. Communicating that message in a way that inspired everyone from potential investors to curious customers, to her own staff, was one of the biggest challenges Le faced as the company’s visionary—and one that Office 365 continues to help her overcome today.
Using PowerPoint to help build a community
Whether it was creating pitch decks for investors, designing new product lines or building her “Brand Ambassador Bible,” Le credits the visual nature of PowerPoint for helping her articulate her message clearly. “There’s a story behind everything we do, including our boxing gloves, and PowerPoint helps us tell those stories,” says Le.
With ambassadors from around the world representing Society Nine in their local communities and gyms, it’s important that everyone is on the same page when it comes to communicating the brand message to consumers. Le defines the Brand Ambassador Bible, created in PowerPoint, as “a true guide and home base that’s visually driven. It’s the story of what this community is all about that they can always come back to be reminded of what they are a part of.”
Crafting a compelling pitch deck
Le relied heavily on PowerPoint to get the company off the ground in the early days, using it to create compelling pitch decks for potential investors. While your whole PowerPoint presentation needs to be polished and impactful, the three most important slides in your deck, according to Le, are:
The team—Who will be executing the vision of the company and taking it to market?
The market opportunity—How is the market evolving and how are you positioned in that market?
The ask—What are you asking for and what will you do with the investment?
These are the key questions investors ask when deciding whether to invest in a company or not. And Society Nine clearly had all the right answers. In just a few short years, Society Nine has grown into a successful company with loyal, passionate customers around the world. But Le isn’t done yet. She says, “Society Nine is going to grow over the next year by expanding our product line and Brand Ambassador program, so that women everywhere, no matter where they’re located, can feel supported in our community. I know we will have succeeded when Society Nine is linked to a time where women finally started using the word “fight” comfortably outside of sport and competition.” Office 365 will be there to support them every step, kick and punch along the way.