Last week I spent some time with Perficient’s Microsoft Office 365 Practice Lead, David Greve from Chicago. He was a great source of information on the power of Office 365 and some of the incredible things Perficient has been able to do with it. I thought I would take a moment and share. Also, I am going to talk about the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as part of the solution as well.
I went ahead and set-up a free 30 trial of Midsize business and Enterprise (E3) in about five minutes (literally) and then enabled the CRM online trial as well. There are two different families of Office 365 and you can compare the differences online. This was more than $20,000 worth of infrastructure all at my disposal. Very cool! The set-up was very straight forward.
The core components for this solution are Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Office Professional Plus. Exchange obviously is your email. Managing email in-house is a necessary evil but the cloud offers a great, reliable alternative. SharePoint can do some incredible things. Not only is it for document management but also can be used for a public facing website, intranet, internal social, etc. Lync is for “real-time” internal office communications/presence and live online meetings. With the next release of Lync we will see more integration with Skype which will be very useful. Office is a locally installed version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Each user has the capability to install Office on their devices.
Managing these applications in the cloud makes it simple and easy. The cloud should be considered as an alternative especially if you are a new company, new to Exchange or upgrading from and old version of Exchange. Your bank account and credit cards are currently in the cloud, so having your email and documents in the cloud makes sense and is very secure. Obviously having applications in the cloud means users can have access from anywhere.
So CRM functionality with Office 365 is very convenient. Store your documents from CRM in SharePoint online. Make calls from CRM using Lync. Send and receive emails and track those emails in CRM. These are just a few of the exciting features of Office 365 and CRM online. CRM Online and Office 365 offer a single interface for administration, and as a single bill.
The next version of Office 365 will be coming Q1 2013. It will have all the latest and greatest versions of Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync. Some very cool functionality coming and the upgrade is all performed by Microsoft since this is online.
Let me know your experiences and comments. I am sure I am far that covering the entire story here but this should be a good start for those who are being exposed for the first time. By the way, if you are interested in checking it out for yourself, try a free 30 day trial.