Written by, Byron Rader, General Manager, Apps and Services, Microsoft Asia PacificByron Rader, General Manager, Apps and Services, Microsoft Asia Pacific

In the New World of Work, businesses need more tools to remain relevant

Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are some of the most prolific and used productivity tools in the world today. They have been mainstays within organizations for decades, but that does not mean those are the only tools businesses need to ensure that their staff are productive and empowered to do their best work.

It is undeniable that the way we work is changing. Over the past decade, globalization, shifting demographics, and technological advancements have accelerated the rate at which work is changing.

Economies have shifted from labour-based to knowledge-based or even service based. Coupled with the proliferation of technology, modern workers are now expecting to collaborate wherever they may be, and to work in locales best suited to completing their tasks at hand. It is becoming apparent that more advanced productivity tools are required and welcomed.

In the New World of Work, an era characterised by increasing globalisation, technology proliferation and a connected workforce, we are seeing drastic changes to how we shape our work spaces, as well as the skills, capabilities and tools we need for executives, managers and ultimately businesses to be successful. Gone are the days where all one needs are word processors, spreadsheets and slideshow presentation programs!

A recent Microsoft survey[i], which surveyed 5,000 employees across 13 markets in Asia found that only 44 out 100 employees felt that their employers are enabling them to be productive, collaborative and innovative, whilst ensuring personal wellbeing. Additionally, 36% of respondents polled did not have the breadth of tools needed to collaborate and connect with colleagues in a fuss-free manner.

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Going Beyond the Productivity Basics

Progressive companies are already changing their workplace, policies and capabilities to better succeed in today’s business environment. By enabling employees to work anywhere, at any time, these companies achieve New World of Work outcomes such as improving collaboration, innovation, productivity, and employee well-being, allowing them to better serve customers and grow the business. Companies are also able to provide more flexibility to current workers and better attract and retain younger, tech-savvy talents.

While equipping workers for the New World of Work can involve making wide ranging workplace policy and leadership changes, a critical part of laying the foundation involves ensuring employees have the right tools to get work done. Today, there are a myriad of productivity tools available that can be used to augment and enable collaborative work; including tools such as email, enterprise social, document sharing, virtual meetings, and file sharing tools.

Adopting a cloud-based productivity suite such as Office 365 is an easy way for businesses to obtain a full breadth of solutions that is constantly kept up to date and allows organizations to outsource their IT maintenance.

Let us have a look at some of the newer productivity apps made available to businesses through Office 365:

1.    Skype for Business

Office 365 - Interface of Skype for Business for Windows Phone

Interface of Skype for Business for Windows Phone

At the heart of great teams is great communication. Skype for Business empowers employees, with the Skype experience they are already familiar with and enabling them to conduct virtual meetings and share their screens all in one app that works with Office.

With Skype for Business, conducting company-wide meetings are a breeze as users can meet with up to 250 people, even if not everyone is on Skype for Business. All that is needed is a phone or internet connection.

The app’s integration with other Office apps means employees can see their contacts’ online statuses, schedule meetings in Outlook or even start conversations while working in other Office apps like Word and PowerPoint.

In addition, all Skype conversations are protected by strong authentication and encryption; and employee accounts and features can also be easily managed, thus making Skype for Business a safe and secure enterprise communication tool for businesses.

2.    Power BI

Office 365 - Power BI’s dashboard display tiles represent important information about the business at a glance

Power BI’s dashboard display tiles represent important information about the business at a glance

Increasingly, data is a value currency that businesses can no longer ignore when driving business insights and transformation. It is important that data works for the organization and provides real-time insights for business leaders.

Microsoft’s Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools used to analyse data and share insights. Businesses can easily monitor important data across the organization and from all the apps they rely on through the app, which in turn equips management and staff alike with the tools they need to transform, analyse, and visualize data.

More importantly, Power BI is able to transform a company’s data into rich visuals that can be collected and organized so that businesses can focus on their core business, spot impactful trends as they happen and make smarter decisions.

3.    Yammer

Office 365 - Yammer being used to promote collaboration amongst colleagues

Yammer being used to promote collaboration amongst colleagues

Think of Yammer as a company’s very own private social network that helps teams stay on top of work. Through Yammer, staff can start conversations, collaborate on files and organize around projects so they can go further, faster.

As a social enterprise tool, Yammer breaks down siloes by connecting people to each other and to the information they need. This way employees can quickly find experts, get answers, and accomplish more. This is especially important when on average, workers spend 20% of their time – or an entire day out of their week – searching for information internally[ii].

Notably, organizations that use social enterprise technologies like Yammer, see a 37% improvement in project collaboration[iii].

Delivering more impact with Office mainstays

With all the new apps that are now available with Office, Word, Excel and PowerPoint too have evolved to remain relevant to the employee of the present.

With the release of Office 2016, new improvements have been brought to these familiar apps. For example, co-authoring is now available in Word and PowerPoint, which means employees can work together on documents and view the edits being made in real time.

Office 365 - Real-time co-authoring on Microsoft Word

Real-time co-authoring on Microsoft Word

Furthermore, Excel 2016 now also includes integrated publishing to Power BI and new modern chart types that help businesses interpret and analyse data with greater ease – ultimately leading to better business practices.

Office 365 - A sunburst chart, one of the new modern charts available in Excel 2016

A sunburst chart, one of the new modern charts available in Excel 2016

Why Office 365?

Microsoft solutions for business enable organizations to be able to work collaboratively anywhere, with the same familiar experience across PCs, tablets, and mobile devices. With Office 365, organizations can benefit from a breadth of tools for the modern workplace which are constantly updated and scalable with latest productivity features for employees to get things done:

  • Modern mobility: With familiar Office apps now available on iOS and Android as well as Windows, users can get work done anywhere and anytime.
  • Modern collaboration: Enterprises can get access to enterprise-grade online tools that enable you to share all documents and co-author in real-time. Office Delve, now available to all Office 365 for business users, proactively highlights key information that is relevant to users based on tasks and the colleagues they work with closely. Office 2016 now also features Co-authoring which enables users to collaborate through real-time typing that lets them see others’ edits as they are made.
  • Modern meetings: Skype for Business, a communications and collaboration platform brings together an experience inspired by Skype with enterprise-grade security, compliance and control. It offers features including presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online meetings. In addition, the new Office features Skype in-app integration across the rich client apps allowing you to IM, screen share, talk or video chat right in your docs.
  • Security and controls: Microsoft’s commitment in building a trusted cloud ensures that your company data is protected. In addition, Office 2016 users will receive new features for better enterprise security and protection, including Built-in Data Loss Protection, Multifactor authentication and Enterprise Data Protection.

With mobile and cloud technologies being pervasive today, it is important for bosses to champion for such tools to be made widely available to equip employees with the capabilities to work flexibly and remotely.

Beyond communication and collaboration tools such as Skype for Business and Yammer, managers will want to explore enabling enhanced capabilities such as Power BI for Office 365 which allow users to spot risks and find opportunities with existing data at a glance autonomously.

Rather than obtaining these solutions individually, companies should look at adopting Office 365, a complete enterprise-grade tool that can easily be deployed with the help of trusted partners to provide employees with the complete set of tools they need to succeed in today’s New World of Work.


[i]  The Microsoft Asia Pacific New World of Work Study was conducted in September 2015 with 5,000 respondents working in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with less than 250 employees and employees working in larger organizations (Enterprises) with more than 250 employees in 13 Asian markets including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The data in this release refers to the Enterprise cut of this survey.
[ii] Bringing Social to the Enterprise: How Microsoft Can Help Your Organization Work Like a Network, Microsoft, 2014
[iii] Bringing Social to the Enterprise: How Microsoft Can Help Your Organization Work Like a Network, Microsoft, 2014