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Microsoft acquires FSLogix to enhance the Office 365 virtualization experience

The way Microsoft 365 enables customers to shift to a modern desktop experience puts it at the heart of workplace transformation. A modern desktop with Windows 10 and Office 365 not only offers the most productive and most secure computing experience, it also saves IT time and money, and allows for a focus on driving business results. For many companies, their specific needs require a modern desktop be virtualized.

To help extend our virtualization capabilities and provide an even richer experience for Microsoft 365 customers, we are excited to announce the acquisition of FSLogix.

A company logo for FSLogix

FSLogix is a next-generation app-provisioning platform that reduces the resources, time and labor required to support virtualization. From small businesses to very large global enterprises across numerous industries, FSLogix solutions enhance customer experience and productivity, while reducing support requirements for IT departments.

In September 2018, we announced Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop – a Microsoft 365 service that empowers customers to run a modern desktop experience on Azure. It is the only cloud-based service that delivers a multi-user Windows 10 experience that is optimized for Office 365 ProPlus and includes free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale Windows and Office on Azure in minutes, with built-in security and compliance.

With this acquisition, customers will benefit in a number of ways. Through customer engagement, we know that Microsoft Office applications are some of the most highly used and most commonly virtualized applications in any business. Office 365 ProPlus is currently the best Office experience, and, with FSLogix enabling faster load times for user profiles in Outlook and OneDrive, Office 365 ProPlus will become even more performant in multi-user virtual environments (including Windows Virtual Desktop).

We are excited to welcome FSLogix to Microsoft, and we look forward to the impact its technology and its people will have on our customers’ virtualization experience.

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Telstra empowers its employees to do their best work from anywhere with Microsoft Office 365

The Telstra logo.

Today’s post was written by Gregory Koteras, general manager of digital workplace solutions at Telstra in Melbourne, Australia.

Image of Gregory Koteras, general manager of digital workplace solutions at Telstra in Melbourne, Australia.At Telstra, our mission is to connect people. We’re Australia’s leading telecommunications and technology company, providing mobile phone and internet access to 17.6 million retail customers.

We’re currently fundamentally re-engineering how we operate through our new T22 strategy, designed to remove complexity and management layers, decrease the focus on hierarchical decision making, and increase the focus on empowered teams making decisions closer to the customer.

The strategy leverages the significant capabilities already being built through Telstra’s up to $3 billion strategic investment announced in August 2016 in creating the Networks for the Future and digitizing the business.

The key to any successful organizational change is having engaged and empowered people. One of the ways we’re doing this is by providing new tools and systems that our employees can use to connect across more than 20 countries around the world. This includes outfitting our employees and contractors with Microsoft Office 365 to provide state-of-the-art collaboration and conferencing tools needed to design better services and transform our customers’ experience.

We also know how important it is to give our people a voice, and we use Yammer to let all employees connect with each other, ask questions, and get the answers they need. Conversely, Telstra executives use Yammer to engage with our global staff and rally support for corporate initiatives. Yammer is our corporate living room. There are thousands of work-related conversations happening there, but also book club groups, fitness groups, Brilliant Connected Women groups, and technical interest groups.

We’re also proud to be a corporate leader in serving customers with disabilities and addressing barriers to accessibility and inclusion. And that extends to our people. With the built-in accessibility features in Office 365 ProPlus, such as screen reader support, voice alerts, and keyboard shortcuts, all Telstra employees can use these new tools to be part of company conversations.

In March 2014, Telstra adopted a flexible workstyle model called All Roles Flex, which recognizes the need for flexible hours and modes for different job roles. It includes part-time work, working outside normal nine-to-five business hours, and working from different locations. To support this way of working, our people need to have access to the best tools and services, so they can connect anywhere, anytime. Office 365 gives them the flexibility and functionality to do that.

As we focus on transforming our company, the tools we provide our people will play a critical role. By greatly simplifying our structure and ways of working, we empower our people and better serve our customers.

Read the case study to learn how Telstra is creating a simpler and productive workplace with Microsoft Office 365.

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How Douglas Elliman, largest real estate brokerage in New York Metropolitan area, empowers agents with help from Office 365

The Douglas Elliman logo.

Today’s post was written by Jeffrey Hummel, chief technology officer at Douglas Elliman.

When I began work at Douglas Elliman, I was attracted to the company’s heritage—more than 100 years of premier real estate sales experience delivers a cachet that’s a big part of our brand. I was also intrigued by the opportunities I saw to use IT to transform this historic company with new tools and services. We wanted to empower agents to be even more successful in an internet-based market where closing a deal often depends on how quickly an agent can respond to a customer’s IM. Although Douglas Elliman agents are independent contractors, they face the same challenges as any distributed sales force: how to stay productive while working away from the office. They need easy, highly secure access to their data and their colleagues. So, I made it a priority to empower our agents with Microsoft Office 365.

We view our more than 7,000 agents as our best asset and our competitive advantage. They are some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry—we are a market leader in New York, South Florida, California, Connecticut, Colorado, and New Jersey. And we are one of New York City’s top real estate firms ranked by agents with $10 million-plus listings. Yet, when I arrived two and a half years ago, many agents were worried about technology somehow replacing them. I reassured everyone in our 81 sales offices that Douglas Elliman had a new mission: to improve, enhance, and elevate the agent experience. Today, we use Office 365 to show that we care for our agents more than anything else. And agents have gone from saying that IT kept them from working to their best ability to IT being the reason they now are.

We looked at other cloud platforms, but they did not reflect our core values. The tools we chose had to be easy to use, elegant, and efficient—and Office 365 meets all those requirements. Our agents range in age from 21 to 91. I love it when agents with decades of experience tell me, “Jeff, I just did my marketing report, and it took half the time! I was fully connected to all the data I needed online, and I had no trouble finding it.”

I’m most excited about how agents use these productivity tools to help more customers buy and sell more property. We are launching a new intranet, built on Microsoft SharePoint Online, which offers an agent app store where Office 365 will be front and center. Everyone will go there to access the tools they need to run their business and collaborate with their teams. Like many independent sales reps, each of our agents has unique work styles and demands. It’s a big benefit that we can offer customizable tools flexible enough for individual agents to choose how to run their business.

Some agents have already replaced Slack with Microsoft Teams. I consider Teams the greatest thing since the invention of the telephone. With so many options for collaboration all in one place, there’s something for everyone within a given group to improve virtual teamwork. Our top agents can have up to 10 people working for them in different offices. One agent has three members who create marketing materials and two others who do nothing but research commercial properties. They share everything using OneDrive cloud storage. Now we’re showing that agent the value of augmenting this process with Teams as a hub for teamwork where she can quickly access not only relevant materials but also all related communications among her team members. So, when they are talking to the next big client, they’ll have all the information they need in one place to help find a new storefront.

Personal productivity is way up, too. Another top agent who works with new development clients regularly juggles dozens of units at a time. He has to access enormous amounts of data, some of which is not in the public record. He used to store all the information accumulated from his work experience in 36 filing cabinets at the office. So, when a developer asked about zoning for a building site, for example, the agent had to call someone in the office to go and dig through the files. Not anymore. We scanned, categorized, and uploaded all his documents to OneDrive. Now he can get that information himself in less than a second from his mobile device. Using leading-edge tools, this highly successful agent has more time to build relationships with more developers, and his business is expanding.

Along with the launch of our new intranet, aptly named Douglas, we are going to introduce our AI chatbot, AskDouglas. This will start with some basic questions and answers and then evolve to be the go-to source for our agents to get questions answered about historical and relevant information within Douglas Elliman.

While we move our agents’ data to the cloud and introduce cloud-based business tools, we’re also improving our security posture and complying better with data privacy regulations. By using Microsoft security solutions that notify us when an agent’s account may be compromised, we can take proactive steps to thwart an attack, without the agent even knowing.

In two years, the company has changed the impact of IT through our mission to enhance and support our sales force. Today, we have agents raving to the executive team about the transformation they’ve seen in their technology tools and work styles. With the advantages of online collaboration and productivity services, plus real-time access to information, we recruit and retain top talent. Working with Office 365, we are strengthening our core advantage—the knowledge and experience of our agents—and putting it toward the next 100 years at Douglas Elliman.

—Jeffrey Hummel

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How Centra improves patient care with Office 365 intelligent business tools

Today’s post was written by Joseph (Jody) Hobbs, managing director of business applications and information security officer at Centra.

Profile picture of Jody Hobbs.Centra is proud to count itself among the early adopters of cloud technology in the healthcare field. Back in 2014, we saw cloud computing as a way to keep up with the rapid growth we were experiencing across the enterprise—and the challenge of adapting to industry changes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Five years later, we’re still using Microsoft Cloud services to remain on the leading edge of business productivity software so that we can provide exceptional patient care.

With Microsoft 365, we are better able to adapt to industry-wide changes introduced by ACA, such as the transition from a fee-for-service model to a quality-based model. This change made capturing data and analytics very important, because now reimbursement is based on quality of care, not quantity of services. We use Power BI, the data analytics tool from Microsoft Office 365 E5, to meet new healthcare reporting requirements and provide a wealth of data to our clinicians. They use this data to measure their performance against quality benchmarks to improve patient experiences and health outcomes.

We also turned to Microsoft 365 to help address Centra data security and privacy policies. Microsoft accommodated our requirement for data to remain in the continental United States, which helps us comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations that are standard in the healthcare industry. We also found a great solution for emailing sensitive information by combining a Microsoft two-factor authentication solution with our existing encryption appliance. Microsoft invests an incredible amount in its security posture, more than we ever could, and this, along with the knowledge that our data is not intermingled with others’ data in the tenant, gives us peace of mind. And we use Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, which gives us great insight into malicious activities aimed at our employees’ inboxes.

Keeping our Firstline Workers flexible and mobile is another major priority. We plan to get all our clinical workers online with Office 365 to actualize our vision for a more productive, mobile workforce. We have almost 4,000 employees taking advantage of Office 365 ProPlus and downloading up to five instances of Office 365 on a range of devices. This makes it seamless for them to work from home or the office using the same powerful, cloud-based productivity apps.

As Centra continues to grow from a network of hospitals to an assortment of health-related enterprises, adding everything from a college of nursing to our own insurance business, we see a cloud-based workplace solution as key to staying agile and making the most of our momentum. In Microsoft 365, we have found a solution that marries the strict security requirements of our industry with the needs of a workforce that demands anytime, anywhere access to colleagues and information. For Centra, change isn’t just a matter of increasing productivity or mobility—at the end of the day, our ability to stay up to date with the latest technology innovations means we are providing the best care possible.

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Updates to Adobe Document Cloud bring integrated PDF services to Office 365

Last September, we expanded our strategic partnership with Adobe to focus on integrations between Adobe Sign and Office 365 products such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Outlook, and more.

We’ve seen our customers make great use of the combination. For example, the State of Hawaii saved a significant amount of employee time while also improving document status versus paper-based processes—providing a double win over previous paper-based processes.

Building on this success, today the Adobe Document Cloud team announced new capabilities that deepen the integration with Office 365 and can save you and your team time. PDF services integrations provide new fidelity when working with PDF documents as part of Office 365. Once integrated by your administrator, PDF services provide rich previews of PDF documents right within OneDrive and your SharePoint sites.

A screenshot displays a non-disclosure agreement in the Adobe Document Cloud.

In addition to many reporting, sharing, and collaboration scenarios, PDF files are frequently used to create final or archived versions of content spanning across many different files. With PDF services and the newly introduced Combine Files by Adobe functionality, you can select several files and pull into one PDF with just a couple of clicks within SharePoint document libraries.

A screenshot displays a launch team group in SharePoint.

PDF services are now available in the ribbon for online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—making the creation of high-quality, full fidelity PDFs from these applications even easier.

PDF servicesalong with capabilities as part of Adobe Sign and upcoming Adobe Reader enhancements—are all part of Adobe Document Cloud. All share a commitment to productive integrations across Office 365—and we hope to see your team benefit from these integrations as well.

If you are an administrator, with Adobe Document Cloud, get started integrating with Office 365 with this guide. Adobe Document Cloud and Office 365 provide great complementary functionalities, and you can learn more about this and Adobe Sign integrations with Office 365. We look forward to seeing continued productivity improvements across the millions of joint customers that Adobe Document Cloud and Microsoft Office 365 share.

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Power and simplicity—updates to the Office 365 user experience

Technology is changing the way people get things done. We’ve picked up the pace. Our work is more collaborative. And we’re blurring the boundaries of time and place. When we ask customers why they continue to choose Office for their most important work, they tell us that they love the power the Office apps offer. The breadth and depth of features is unmatched in the industry and allows them to do things that they just can’t do with other products. But they also tell us that they need Office to adapt to the changing environment, and they’d love us to simplify the user experience and make that power more accessible. Today, we’re pleased to announce user experience updates for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook rolling out gradually over the next few months. These changes are inspired by the new culture of work and designed to deliver a balance of power and simplicity.

Office is used by more than a billion people every month, so while we’re excited about these changes, we also recognize how important it is to get things right. To guide our work, we came up with “The Three Cs”—a set of guiding principles that we use as a north star. Because these principles will make this process feel different than any previous user experience update, we thought it would be useful to share them with you.

CustomersWe’re using a customer-driven innovation process to co-create the design of the Office apps. That process consists of three phases: initial customer research and analysis; concepting and co-creation; and validation and refinement.

ContextCustomers love the power of Office, but they don’t need every feature at the same time. We want our new designs to understand the context that you’re working in, so you can focus on the job at hand. That means surfacing the most relevant commands based on the work you’re doing and making it easy to connect and collaborate with others.

ControlWe recognize that established skills and routines are powerful—and that the way someone uses the apps often depends on specific parts of the user interface. So we want to give users control, allowing them to toggle significant changes on and off.

These updates are exclusive to Office.com and Office 365—the always up-to-date versions of our apps and services. But they won’t happen all at once. Instead, over the next several months we will deploy new designs to select customers in stages and carefully test and learn. We’ll move them into production only after they’ve made it through rigorous rounds of validation and refinement.

The initial set of updates includes three changes:

Simplified ribbon—A new, updated version of the ribbon is designed to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. People who prefer to dedicate more screen space to the commands will still be able to expand the ribbon to the classic three-line view.

The first app to get this new experience will be the web version of Word and will start to roll out to select consumer users today on Office.com. Select Insiders will then see the simplified ribbon in Outlook for Windows in July.

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows offer our deepest, richest feature set—and they’re the preferred experience for users who want to get the most from our apps. Users have a lot of “muscle memory” built around these versions, so we plan on being especially careful with changes that could disrupt their work. We aren’t ready to bring the simplified ribbon to these versions yet because we feel like we need more feedback from a broader set of users first. But when we do, users will always be able to revert back to the classic ribbon with one click.

New colors and icons—Across the apps you’ll start to see new colors and new icons built as scalable graphics—so they render with crisp, clean lines on screens of any size. These changes are designed to both modernize the user experience and make it more inclusive and accessible.

The new colors and icons will first appear in the web version of Word for Office.com. Then, later this month, select Insiders will see them in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows. In July, they will go to Outlook for Windows, and in August they will begin rolling out to Outlook for Mac.

Search—Search will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content, and people. With “zero query search,” simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.

Commercial users can already see this experience in action in Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app, and it will start rolling out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August.

Image of the search function in Office 365.

For an overview of these changes, check out the video below by Jon Friedman, our chief designer for Office.

Video source.

To develop these initial designs, Jon’s team worked closely with customers. They collected data on how people use the apps and built prototypes to test new concepts. While we have plenty of work left to do, we’ve definitely heard encouraging things from customers using early builds:

“It’s simpler and I feel like I can open it and immediately get my bearings and move forward. Not a lot of extra information. The tasks are obvious on this screen.”

“The toolbar provides the most frequently used features…maximizing the screen real estate for the actual content.”

“I like the extra space. What I do find is that the feature to toggle it off/on is helpful because occasionally I can’t figure out (quickly) where something went.”

We plan on carefully monitoring usage and feedback as the changes roll out, and we’ll update our designs as we learn more.

Technology is changing the way people get things done at work, at school, and at home, resetting expectations for productivity. Inspired by these changes, these updates are designed to deliver a balance of power and simplicity. But what’s most exciting for us is that over the next few months we’ll be co-creating and refining these new experiences with our customers—and making the power of Office more accessible for everyone.