The rise of the IT leader

Today’s IT leaders are true agents of change. Beyond just responding to business requests, they are helping steer progressive organizations in bold new directions.

The new infographic, The rise of the IT leader, offers five insights that are transforming IT leadership:

  1. IT can shape business strategy.
  2. There’s an urgent need for real-time insight.
  3. Mobility keeps driving innovation.
  4. Success depends on closer collaboration.
  5. IT is the catalyst for change.

Download the new infographic: The rise of the IT leader to learn how you can become an IT leader.

Register for “GDPR: What you need to know” on Modern Workplace

According to a recent Forbes article, “Ninety-six percent of businesses in the U.K., Germany and France are underprepared for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), despite the law becoming effective May 2018.” This legislation will affect any organization doing business in the European Union. Are you ready?

Join us for the next episode of Modern Workplace, “GDPR: What you need to know,” airing June 13, 2017 at 8 a.m. PDT / 4 p.m. BST. We’ll take a closer look at the global impact of this all-encompassing privacy law.

  • Brendon Lynch, chief privacy officer for Microsoft, will share his tips on how to move your organization toward GDPR compliance.
  • Karen Lawrence Öqvist, GDPR expert and CEO for Privasee, will offer an EU perspective on this new law and share what an organization needs to do to be prepared.

Plus, we’ll showcase a hands-on demo of powerful security and privacy solutions—such as Office 365 Advanced Data Governance and Microsoft Azure Information Protection—which can help your organizations journey to compliance with the GDPR. Register now!

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Register for “The Expert’s View: The future decoded” on the next Modern Workplace

Join us for the next episode of Modern Workplace, “The Expert’s View: The future decoded,” airing May 9, 2017 at 8 a.m. PDT / 4 p.m. BST. We’ll dive deeper into what’s in store for organizations in the future and take a closer look at innovation, collaboration and security trends to help organizations prepare for what’s ahead. Hear from top experts such as Kyle Nel, Nancy Duarte, Uri Levine, Aaron Dignan, Bret Arsenault, Max Wessel, Dr. Jessica Barker, Phil Ferraro and Jules Polonetsky.

Plus, we will showcase powerful productivity tools, such as Office Threat Intelligence, Microsoft Teams and Power BI, to help your organization stay ahead today. Register now!

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Learn how to stay ahead of the curve in the future of work

Join us for next episode of Modern Workplace, “The Future of Work: Build, attract, connect,” airing April 11, 2017 at 8 a.m. PDT / 4 p.m. BST. In this episode, learn how your organization can adopt cutting edge methods to better communicate, collaborate, and stay ahead of the curve in the future of work.

Featured guests:

  • Angela Oguntala, speaker and United Nations “future innovator” will share how you can see fast results for your organization by breaking down growth opportunities into small, actionable steps.
  • Jacob Morgan, speaker, futurist and author of the new book “The Employee Experience Advantage,” will reveal why experiential companies are poised for the greatest future success, and what that could mean for your organization.

Plus, learn how you can elevate your team’s productivity using the new chat-based workspace, Microsoft Teams.

Register now!

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New Office 365 adoption resources, webinar with Microsoft CIO Jim DuBois

Today’s blog post was written by Mike Grafham, adoption lead for the Microsoft FastTrack Engineering team.

Over the past couple years Microsoft FastTrack, the customer success service for the Microsoft Cloud, has helped more than 22,000 customers worldwide achieve success with Office 365. That number is growing quickly, with more than 4,000 new customers each month now turning to FastTrack for guidance on Office 365 implementation and user adoption. In addition to providing onboarding, FastTrack helps customers think beyond just the deployment to help organizations move to the cloud with confidence and realize business value faster.

Many organizations rely on FastTrack for assistance, guidance and resources that are provided directly from the people that build and run Office 365. Today, FastTrack is announcing several exciting new resources to help customers achieve widespread adoption of Office 365 and get the most from their investment, including:

  • A new webinar, featuring Microsoft CIO Jim DuBois, which will share best practices and discuss the resources available to help you achieve your business goals through Office 365 adoption.
  • Expanded Productivity Library scenarios to show your users how embracing Office 365 will lead to success.
  • The Office 365 Adoption Guide, which provides a step-by-step blueprint for adoption.

Ensure your business goals are met—plan ahead for user adoption

Organizations of every size and description—including 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies—count on the Microsoft Cloud and Office 365 to provide the collaboration, mobile productivity, intelligence and trust they need to run their businesses. But what if you’re the person your company has charged with ensuring user adoption to realize the full value of Office 365? How can you help your organization achieve its business goals through Office 365 adoption when your schedule is overloaded, your team is overextended and you aren’t sure where to begin?

“We found the Microsoft FastTrack adoption methodology really beneficial,” says Simon Denton, business architect at Mott MacDonald. “It set out quite clearly the steps we needed to go through to define principles and scenarios. Once we did that, we knew adoption would come easily. We based our entire adoption plan on Microsoft FastTrack documentation. It gave us a really good foundation.”

Join us for our upcoming webinar, “Microsoft FastTrack: Achieve your success with Office 365”

Microsoft CIO Jim DuBois will share insights on how to enable digital transformation of your organization through Office 365 adoption. In addition, Simon Denton of Mott MacDonald will explain how he used FastTrack resources to help his company increase productivity by moving to Office 365. And we’ll demonstrate many of the adoption resources at The webinar is Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. PDT / 1 p.m. EDT/UTC. Reserve your place today.

Plan for success with our new Office 365 Adoption Guide

Based on our extensive research, and insights from thousands of customer engagements worldwide, the new Office 365 Adoption Guide provides an end-to-end methodology to help you realize business value through user adoption. The Adoption Guide includes best practices and guidance on how to develop and execute a successful adoption strategy.

Explore the Office 365 Productivity Library at

Use the Productivity Library to learn how to talk to users about Office 365, discover what the service makes possible for your professional role and your industry, and access guidance and resources to help you get started with your chosen scenarios. It includes guidance to help you get started, awareness and training templates, and resources that relate Office 365 apps to real-world business situations and highlight product benefits for daily tasks we all experience. We’re continually improving and expanding the Productivity Library, so visit often to get regular updates related to Office 365 product features and see case studies of how organizations use the platform to realize business value.

Maybe you’re just starting to think about making the move to Office 365, or perhaps you’ve already begun your digital transformation journey. Either way, FastTrack has the resources to help you achieve user adoption of Office 365 and realize business value for your organization.

—Mike Grafham

To learn more about Microsoft FastTrack, join us in the Microsoft Tech Community and follow us on the Microsoft Mechanics YouTube channel.

To get started with FastTrack today, sign in at to create your personalized success plan and request FastTrack assistance.

How do you tell the story behind your data? Find out on the next Modern Workplace

According to a recent study conducted by Glassdoor, data scientists are the most in-demand job of 2016. But gathering the information is only half of your organization’s challenge—it’s what you do with it that counts. How can you be sure your data isn’t just telling you the story you want to hear, but showing you what you urgently need to know?

Join us for the next episode of Modern Workplace,” Visualize: The power of data storytelling,” airing January 10, 2017, at 8 a.m. PST / 4 p.m. GMT, and learn how to unlock the hidden potential within your data through visualization. Plus, get an exclusive demonstration of how Microsoft intelligent tools like Power BI and Excel can help you shape, analyze and visually explore your data.

  • Industry analyst at Altimeter Group, Susan Etlinger, shares how to strategize your data into actionable tips you can use today and provides insights into creating your organization’s most insightful data yet.
  • Data visualization specialist for The Washington Post, Gabi Steele, explains how to communicate insights through design and data storytelling.

Register now!

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6 signs your company has outgrown its free email solution


A free email solution is great when your organization is first starting out. But how do you know when you have grown beyond the capabilities of your free email service and you need a more sophisticated solution? The business email requirements of a growing company are much different than those of a small startup. Whether you’re using or another provider, there are signs that indicate your business has outgrown free email.

The following list identifies six important capabilities you need now (or in the future) to ensure your email solution doesn’t hold you back. Needing any one of these capabilities is an indication that it’s time to consider moving from a free to a paid email solution:

  1. Security—If you’ve experienced a security breach—or are even worried about it happening—you need a more sophisticated solution that offers increased, enterprise-class security capabilities.
  1. Storage—You’ve reached your storage max: a very simple reason to upgrade. Storage space should never cause you to delete or change how you use your email, especially when paid solutions offer large stores of data.
  1. Tools—Free email tools don’t typically provide robust inbox- and user-management tools. Paid email solutions offer a range of features for managing users as well as extensive rules for managing your inbox—enabling you to spend less time managing your inbox and more time managing your business.
  1. Domain names—Using a custom domain for your business email is a vital way to ensure your business appears professional. For example, “” has a lot more credibility than “” While free custom email addresses are available, they often leave you open to security threats, because the company you host through will likely have access to your data and other information.
  1. Data—If you’ve ever felt the need to own and manage your email data, it’s time to move to a paid solution. Often, when you agree to free email terms, you’re granting the email provider permission to mine your data and send you ads—which is how their companies remain profitable while offering free services. Not only can this distract from your work, it also puts your company’s data at risk.
  1. File sharing—Need to share files and collaborate securely with your team? Paid email solutions enable team-based collaboration and sharing without putting confidential company information at risk.

Graduate to an email solution that offers your growing business increased security, enhanced customization and a variety of features and capabilities to improve collaboration. Not only will this keep your company running smoothly and increase teamwork—your IT team will no longer spend time on common free email service-level issues.

Learn more

What’s new in Office 365 administration—December update

Recent updates to the Office 365 admin experience include a new OneDrive for Business admin center, new settings to manage Microsoft Teams and GigJam, and improvements to the new Service health dashboard. In November and December, our efforts focused on enabling admins to manage new workloads and improving the monitoring and the OneDrive administration experience.

Here’s a summary of the recent updates:

New OneDrive for Business admin center rolling out to First Release customers

Over the past year, OneDrive for Business has evolved at a rapid pace—introducing new features for users and IT admins—across sync, web and mobile. As the number of users continues to grow, our customers have asked for an easier way to administer their company OneDrive for Business settings and policies. The new OneDrive admin center delivers on that, making it easier and more efficient to manage OneDrive for Business. The OneDrive admin center has started to roll out to first release customers and can be accessed at while in preview.

We plan to make the OneDrive admin center generally available in early 2017 and will add a link from the Office 365 admin center. Read the announcement for more information.


Manage Microsoft Teams from the Office 365 admin center

Microsoft Teams—in preview since November—is the chat-based workspace in Office 365 that helps teams achieve more together. Office 365 admins can now enable and manage Microsoft Teams directly from the Office 365 admin center.

In the Services & add-ins page, admins will find a new Microsoft Teams section where they can enable the service for their organization, as it is disabled by default during the preview period. After enabling, admins can configure Microsoft Teams for their organization, including notifications, feedback, bots and screen sharing in meetings.



Enable GigJam from the Office 365 admin center

GigJam helps you get work done across your network by sharing just the slice of information you want—with who you need—both inside and outside your company. GigJam—currently in preview—is off by default for organizations with Office 365. You can now enable GigJam directly from the Services & add-ins page in the Office 365 admin center and let your organization try using GigJam.


New Service health dashboard rolling out to First Release customers

The new Service health dashboard has started to roll out to First Release customers—providing admins with a new level of service health insights that are personalized for their organization. The dashboard makes it easier to identify relevant issues by separating major business critical outages from others and splitting them into two categories: incidents and advisories. A new summary view surfaces the most relevant and critical details and allows you to quickly understand the impact on your organization by showing the number of impacted users. This allows admins to stay on top of service incidents, improve your internal support experience and improve the Office 365 user experience.

Based on feedback from the preview customers, we’ve further improved the new Service health dashboard. A new rating option now enables admins to provide feedback on the accuracy and usefulness of the information of each post on the Service health dashboard.


In addition, admins can now access the full history view of each message that provides access to all previous posts by clicking Show details.


Admins can also now also access a searchable history view that displays all incidents and advisories from the past 30 days.


We’re planning to roll out the new dashboard to all admins in February 2017.

More to come

In the coming months, we will add more reports that focus on which clients are used to access SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and Yammer. We are also working on making the Office 365 adoption content pack in Power BI available to all customers and providing new public APIs that will enable you to programmatically access the usage data and integrate it into custom applications, like a company reporting portal.

Let us know what you think!

Try the new features and provide feedback using the feedback link in the lower right corner of the Office 365 admin center. And don’t be surprised if we respond to your feedback. We truly read every piece of feedback that we receive to make sure the Office 365 administration experience meets your needs.

Please note: The features mentioned in this blog post have started to roll out. If they are not available yet in your region, for your subscription or for your organization, please check back in a few weeks!

—Anne Michels, @Anne_Michels, senior product marketing manager for the Office 365 Marketing team

Top 7 ways Office 365 offers more security than on-premises services

It seems logical to think that data you stored in a privately controlled datacenter is safer than data in the cloud. But that’s not necessarily true. In fact, there is a broad range of security features that you benefit from when you put your data in a cloud service like Office 365. And when done right, data is more secure in the cloud than in on-premises servers.

Consider these added security benefits of data in the cloud:

  1. Broader scope of threat intelligence—When a customer’s on-premises servers are attacked by an external actor, the customer can take steps to protect themselves from subsequent attacks from that same actor. But damage has been done. Even if they buy access to threat intelligence feeds, the scope of available intel is constrained and your response is reactive. With Office 365, instead of simply reacting to individual attacks, customers gain the benefit of intelligence gathered from threats against other customers within the service as well. An attack launched against any organization in Office 365 can functionally inoculate everyone else.
  1. Greater automation and decreased human intervention—In the cloud, managing things like hardware, operating systems and patches boils down to a set of tasks that is familiar to any IT administrator. The biggest difference in the cloud is that to provide the service at scale, these tasks must be automated. The benefits of automation are two-fold. First, gaps in the security posture are addressed at scale. Second, with software operating the service instead of humans, there is less risk of falling prey to spear-phishing, offering an additional layer of protection. Manual management activities are minimal and must be approved by multiple people, which can include customers.
  1. Better anomaly detection due to uniformity and simplicity—When cloud services started out, they were mostly based on the same on-premises products that you always used—except they were deployed and managed on servers owned by the provider. In recent years, cloud services have evolved to dramatically simplify configuration options, server roles and management complexity. This simplification gives services the ability to consolidate how they protect, detect and respond to threats. Since software is the main source of interaction, illicit activity by human attackers is easier to identify.
  1. Constant innovation—Cloud security teams face two key pressures when building security capabilities: Every feature breaks at some scale, and every customer brings a particular set of concerns and requirements. We find that a robust set of well-designed and implemented capabilities can address most customer concerns, but the growth of the cloud service constantly challenges the design. A successful cloud security strategy requires us to innovate. One example is our approach to penetration testing. Some cloud services, including Office 365, have a full-time team of penetration testers who look for vulnerabilities. We asked ourselves how we would make sure that once the vulnerability has been fixed, it doesn’t recur, and that detections of illicit activity by penetration testers work for all instances of a given vulnerability. Our answer was to automate penetration testing attacks and then use that signal to verify the quality of our detections.
  1. Smaller breach boundary—A key piece of an effective security strategy is to make your breach boundary is as small and as diverse as possible. Sensitive assets should be isolated from each other, so that it is more difficult for an attacker to move from one asset to another. Most companies draw their breach boundaries at the directory level. If an attacker can acquire domain admin privileges, they can access any information managed in that domain. When you adopt cloud services, it is more difficult for the attacker to breach your domain and gain access to any of the data in the cloud service beyond normal “front-door” access to the services which are audited. The delegation of management to a third party, in a real and impactful way, asserts a new breach boundary.
  1. Cross-application security model—Traditional on-premises security capabilities center on the computer, the operating system and firewalls. In on-premises systems, you parse the logs for multiple applications and must make sense of what those logs mean. In the cloud, we standardize our logging systems to make them more consumable. You can evolve your security capabilities to enable an application-aware security model that adjusts to how attackers work—by breaching accounts, then achieving their goals through front-door interfaces. Cloud application services take your security to a new level by delivering integrated and context-aware security capabilities that cross application boundaries.
  1. Transparency—With Office 365 in particular, there is one other benefit: transparency. With many organizations using Office 365, we are compelled to operate in the full light of day. To earn your business, we must have your trust, and to earn that we must be transparent with you about how we protect your data. To that end, we allow our customers to control how a Microsoft support engineer accesses their data. Our business model relies profoundly on the belief that there are no shortcuts and no excuses when it comes to the security of your data.

If you’ve been sitting on the fence about adopting the cloud—based on a set of objections relating to security in the cloud—these security benefits should help ease your concerns. If you want to learn more how we approach security, check out the Office 365 Trust Center.

— Brandon Koeller, principal program manager for the Office security and compliance team

5 ways a cloud-based email solution saves you time


Email continues to be one of the most popular communication methods for businesses, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. With email taking the lead in business communications, you need to ensure your business is set up for success. Here are five ways how cloud-based email can save time for both your IT department and users.

#1—Eliminate hardware or solution maintenance

Moving your email to the cloud means no more attention wasted on onsite servers. Additionally, migration and continuous software updates can help decrease (or even eliminate) maintenance-related downtime. Without the need for on-premises hardware upkeep, your IT team has more time to take on other projects.

#2—Avoid costly downtime

Every moment your email is down costs your company in a number of ways. With onsite email solutions, updates, scaling, and other threats could potentially lead to downtime. In 2016, unplanned outages cost companies up to $2.4 billion, according to research by the Ponemon Institute. That’s more than double the cost in 2010. The top three factors costing your company during downtime? Business disruption, lost revenue and reduced employee productivity, the report states.

#3—Seamless integration means more efficiency

Don’t bog down your teams with clumsy servers and cumbersome integration processes. An integrated email solution saves time and energy for your employees. Additionally, cloud-based email has rapid application delivery, which helps ensure that business processes remain efficient.

#4—Easily scale and update

Cloud email solutions provide you with the ability to quickly scale and update—saving your IT team a lot of headaches. Companies that migrate to cloud-based email see the benefits of standardized and automated functionality.

#5—Better security and compliance

For many industries and businesses, security and compliance are vital to ensure trust and help follow strict regulations. Unfortunately, maintaining high security standards and adhering to compliance regulations takes a lot of time and hinders productivity when managing it on your own. Effective cloud-based secure email solutions help organizations comply with global, regional and industry-specific requirements like healthcare (HIPAA), government and homeland security (FISMA), education (FERPA), and banking. And applications stay up-to-date with evolving privacy compliance standards.

All of this is simplified into one huge benefit: increased productivity—which can save your company time and money.

Learn more

Help prevent user-error security breaches

According to the Association of Corporate Counsel, unintentional employee error is the top cause of data breaches. And with 87 percent of IT professionals concerned about the security of cloud data, according to a Dimensional Research survey conducted for Druva, it’s easy to feel vulnerable. Preventing these unintentional errors can help keep your data protected.

The problem—simple passwords

Simple or reused passwords open the door to hackers. According to SplashData, the top five worst passwords of 2015 were:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345

But even a great password can pose problems when used on multiple sites. Hackers know that people like to reuse passwords, so when they crack one, they test it on multiple sites, especially those that may contain higher value information.

Your solution—Educate employees on how to create a strong password. Then put a policy in place to ensure passwords meet minimum complexity requirements and require that users change them often. Also, encourage secure password-keeping practices such as using third-party services that store passwords in the cloud and secure them all with a master password.

The problem—falling for phishing

According to a Verizon Data Breach report, phishing is the second most common threat and is implicated in around a quarter of all data breaches. If a phishing message ends up in an employee’s inbox, there’s a good chance they will click the link.

Your solution—In addition to top-notch security and secure email filters, encourage users to report suspicious-looking messages—similar to reporting junk mail. Once reviewed and identified as a threat, add these messages to service-wide filters.


In Exchange Online, Email Safety Tips provide an additional layer of protection with a warning to the user in messages that are marked suspicious.

The problem—BYOD practices

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are widely used in today’s business landscape, but employees accessing sensitive information from personal devices can open the door to security threats. According to research from the Ponemon Institute, a total of 67 percent of respondents cited employees using their devices to access company data as likely or certainly the cause of data breaches.

Your solution—Create clear BYOD policies and educate employees on how to follow these guidelines—including what’s at risk if they’re ignored. For additional layers of security, require the use of approved secure mobile apps and multi-factor authentication when accessing company information.

The problem—lost or stolen devices

Lost devices are another leading cause of data breaches. And not just employee-owned devices—even your company’s devices are at risk, leaving your organization exposed to threats if they are lost or stolen.

Your solution—Educate employees on proper device security on- and off-premises, and instruct them to report lost devices as soon as possible. Enable security policies to ensure you can remotely access, locate and wipe a device if necessary.

Continually educate employees to minimize risk of common user-error breaches. Security features available with Office 365 help mitigate the risks introduced by employees. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) proactively scans emails and notifies users before they send sensitive information. Information Rights Management (IRM) allows you to control email access permissions to keep unauthorized people from printing, forwarding or copying sensitive information. Additionally, Office 365 gives you the option to use Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to safeguard mailboxes against sophisticated attacks in real time.

Learn more

Learn more about the insights in Microsoft MyAnalytics

On today’s Microsoft Mechanics, we take a tour of the latest updates to Microsoft MyAnalytics. Catherine Pidgeon shares how to use MyAnalytics to improve work impact and success. From understanding where her time goes, to identifying areas of opportunity and gaining insight into collaboration with her most important groups, Catherine provides a comprehensive tour of current and roadmap features.

Also, today we are announcing the availability of external contacts within your MyAnalytics experience. Now you will be able to stay up to date on how you interact with important contacts outside of your organization. Whether they are customers, partners or external staff—sometimes those you work with across organizations are the most important to your success. Now you can quickly add important external contacts to your MyAnalytics dashboard to stay updated with collaboration insights like total collaboration time, time in meetings, read percent and response time.


Get email digests to have insights delivered right to your inbox

Starting in January, the MyAnalytics email digest will deliver time and network insights right into your inbox. The digest will provide insight into your time and progress against goals to help you identify key trends that might require your action. With the quick insights delivered each week, you will now be better informed to plan ahead and ensure you’re spending your time in ways that are aligned with your goals.


Already have MyAnalytics? Send us your feedback in the comments, on Twitter @_MyAnalytics­ or via the MyAnalytics UserVoice. Would you like to see your own MyAnalytics view? Start up a free E5 trial today at

Frequently asked questions

Q. How do I add an external contact?

A. Use the “search to add” field of the network section in your MyAnalytics dashboard to add external contacts by their full, valid email address.

Q. When will the groups feature be available?

A. The “My important groups” feature is currently in development and will be available for customers in the first several months of 2017.

Q. When will the digest email be available?

A. The digest email will start to roll out to customers in early January 2017.

Q. How is privacy handled within MyAnalytics?

A. Most of the information provided within MyAnalytics is already available to you, such as your time in meetings or your response time to others. In the case that this information is not already available to you, such as the company average time in meetings, the insights are aggregated and de-identified to preserve end-user privacy.

Additionally, organizations have significant controls to ensure that MyAnalytics meets the privacy requirements of their organization. See MyAnalytics for Office 365 admins for more information.

Q. I am an end user in an organization that has MyAnalytics and I want to learn more about it. Are there any reference materials available?

A. To learn more, please visit MyAnalytics tips and stay connected via our UserVoice, Twitter @_MyAnalytics­ and the MyAnalytics group on the Microsoft Tech Community.