Vote for the #ExcelWorldChamp

Last year, we announced the #ExcelWorldChamp competition. From October to November 2016, Microsoft ran four rounds of Excel tests for residents of select countries. The top competitors in each round made it through to the next level—until there was one Excel champ from each country!

Now, these country champions are competing head-to-head in one last round to declare the #ExcelWorldChamp and win a trip to Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., to meet with the Excel product team.

Help us determine the winner!

Submissions for the data visualization challenge are now posted on the #ExcelWorldChamp website. Visit the site anytime between April 4 and April 6, 2017 and vote for your favorite submissions. Your vote will help determine each contestant’s final score. Join us at the #ExcelWorldChamp website on April 7, 2017 at 2 p.m. UTC / 10 a.m. EDT for our LIVE announcement of the winner!

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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Work smarter—not harder—on the next Office Small Business Academy

Is your business falling victim to silent killers of productivity? Register now for the next episode of Office Small Business Academy, “Work Smarter: Productivity Tools for Your Business,” airing March 28 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET, and learn how to develop processes and key disciplines that will allow your business to work smarter, not harder.

This month’s featured guests include:

  • Robert Sher, CEO to CEO founding principal and Forbes columnist, will present his article “The 7 silent growth killers,” which outlines what can destroy your organization’s productivity, along with common pitfalls to watch out for.
  • Jeff Haden, Inc. Magazine contributing editor, will discuss how you can streamline operations using technology solutions and will share a dose of practical advice you can use today—whether you’re running a full-grown company or a thriving startup.
  • Plus, discover how one business is using Microsoft Teams as their one-stop-shop for all things collaboration, helping them stay connected across time zones and teams.

Sign up for free!

For more information, visit the Office Small Business Academy home page.

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Watch these recent episodes of the Small Business Academy:

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.

Cyber risk is a business risk

Should your security focus be on systems or people?

In the latest Modern Workplace episode, “Cyber Intelligence—The Human Element,” we look at how organizations not only need to look at their systems but also have to address the security threats that stem from the behavior of their own employees, who oftentimes are the source of cyber-attacks. Phil Ferraro, CISO of Nielson, explains how security is not a responsibility to be merely delegated to IT and how failures in security have a direct impact on the business.

In the past, organizations typically focused on ensuring their networks were secure. But today, so many attacks are a result of employee actions, taking advantage of human behavior because employees provide easier entry points for malicious attacks. For example, spear phishing emails are commonplace and becoming more sophisticated.

Ferraro and Dr. Jessica Barker, cyber intelligence advisor, give actionable recommendations on how to educate your employees to help prevent cyber-attacks. You’ll also see a demo of how Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection helps ensure that the links and attachments that employees open are safe. The Microsoft solution has been brilliantly designed to optimize security without the expense of decreased productivity.

Watch the Modern Workplace episode to learn more. And visit Modern Workplace to watch part one of the security series: “Cyber Intelligence: Help Prevent a Breach.”

Advice to help prevent data breaches at your company

A data breach can be your worst nightmare. Not only could it be disastrous for your company’s brand, it could lead to significant revenue losses and regulatory fines.

Watch the latest Modern Workplace episode, “Cyber Intelligence: Help Prevent a Breach,” to get advice on how to best approach cyber security at your company from two chief information security officers (CISO)—Vanessa Pegueros, CISO at DocuSign, and Mike Convertino, CISO at F5 Networks. Learn how these seasoned security executives make decisions on security spending and how they justify security investments to skeptical executives who may not have ever experienced a security breach.

Every company has cyber security risks and needs to be aware of them—but understanding your company’s risk profile is just the beginning. You also need to know what you are trying to protect. As Convertino explains, “The value proposition of the company needs to be the thing that you base your protections and recommendations on.” When you have a clear goal for security, it becomes easier to demonstrate the value of your security investments in tools and talent.

You’ll also see a preview of the protection available from Office 365 Threat Intelligence, which lets you monitor and protect against risks before they hit your organization. Using Microsoft’s global presence to provide insight into real-time security threats, Threat Intelligence enables you to quickly and effectively set up alerts, dynamic policies and security solutions for potential threats.

Watch the Modern Workplace episode to learn more.

Track your Office knowledge and skills with Office Training Roadmaps

Today, we are releasing Office Training Roadmaps to help your company set training expectations and track progress for six Office apps. The training roadmaps help you quickly find what you need to learn and are available both online and as printable posters for Office 365, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word and Access 2016.

Track your Office knowledge 1

Also, if you or your company needs help getting started with Office apps, we have expanded our Quick Start Guides to include Excel, Outlook and Sway. All of these free resources can be found at the Office Training Center.

—Lesley Alexander-McVie, program manager for the Office Learning team

When it comes to group collaboration, one size doesn’t fit all


The way people work together is evolving, and unique projects, work styles, functional roles and workforce diversity call for a complete set of collaboration tools. As the appetite for new ways of working together grows, new developments in communications, mobility and cloud services are enabling professionals to communicate and collaborate in ways that were previously not possible.

Not your typical online event

Each 90-minute session starts with an online business roundtable discussing your biggest business challenges with a trained facilitator and then transitions into a live environment in the cloud. You will receive a link to connect your own device to a remote desktop loaded with our latest and greatest technology, so you can experience first-hand how Microsoft tools can solve your biggest challenges.

Why should I attend?

During this interactive online session, you will explore:

  • How Microsoft Teams, the newest collaboration tool:
    • Keeps everyone engaged with threaded persistent chat.
    • Creates a hub for teamwork that works together with your other Office 365 apps.
    • Builds customized options for each team with channels, connectors, tabs and bots.
    • Adds your personality to your team with emojis, GIFs and stickers.
  • How to keep information secure while being productive—Make it easier to work securely and maintain compliance without inhibiting your workflow.
  • How to quickly visualize and analyze complex data—Zero in on the data and insights you need without having to involve a BI expert.
  • How to co-author and share content quickly—Access and edit documents even while others are editing and reviewing them all at the same time.
  • How to get immediate productivity gains—Most attendees leave with enough time-saving skills that time invested to attend a Customer Immersion Experience more than pays for itself in a few short days.

Space is limited. Each session is only open to 12 participants. Reserve your seat now.

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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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

New Office 365 ProPlus deployment guide for IT pros now available

The Office 365 ProPlus deployment team has been working hard to give IT pros the tools they need to successfully deploy Office 365 ProPlus in various scenarios. We recently released a new guide focused on making your organization’s ProPlus deployment a success.

The Preferred Practices for Office 365 ProPlus Deployment guide was created for IT pros by a team of Office 365 deployment experts. The guide is available for download in the Office 365 onboarding resources at and features actionable guidance and real-world scenarios, including:

  • Recommended guidance for discovery of applications.
  • Preferred deployment scenarios and practices.
  • Recommended approaches for channel management.
  • Reporting capabilities for licensing and usage.

The Preferred Practices guide walks you through the phases of deployment.

Here’s a sneak peek at each phase, and what you can expect to find in the respective section of the guide:

Assess—Deploying Office 365 ProPlus requires planning—just like any other large-scale Office client deployment. Learn about key infrastructure components and app compatibility discovery processes, as well as tools to help you understand the scope and remediation needs of Office 365 ProPlus.

Plan—Planning is a key component of your migration to Office 365 ProPlus. Consider several items when creating your deployment plan to understand constraints and meet the goals of the project.

Deploy—Learn more about the three deployment options—Enterprise Managed, Locally Managed and Cloud Managed—available for delivering Office 365 ProPlus to your users’ devices.

Manage—We’re continuously improving Office 365 ProPlus. We’ll walk you through how to handle managed and unmanaged deployment scenarios, patching and channel updates and ongoing management and maintenance.

We’ll continue to update this guide as new features and deployment capabilities are released by Microsoft. And we’ll also collect feedback from customers, partners and Microsoft deployment experts to continually refine these practices, so please reach out to us with any thoughts.

Get the guidance you need from a single comprehensive source. Download your copy of the guide today.

—Chris Hopkins, senior program manager for Office 365 ProPlus deployment, and Brian Canady, associate architect for Microsoft Services