Office 365--Microsoft's Web-Based Suite--Launched A Public Beta, But Will Advisors Switch?

Monday, April 18, 2011 08:57
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Office 365--Microsoft's Web-Based Suite--Launched A Public Beta, But Will Advisors Switch?

Tags: productivity

Office 365, at $6 a month per user, is tempting. Outsource all your IT and get more features. But will advisors switch to it?

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Not yet. I doubt advisors are ready to switch to using Word and Outlook online. But Office 365 represents a big step forward.

 

The benefits are getting to be significant. Collaboration with colleagues in SharePoint, easy online meetings from your calendar, and running Exchange online.

 

But many of these features are already available from other specialty apps. Advisor are already getting some of these features from specialty apps that make it easier to set up meetings online (Tungle), make it easy to run online meetings (GoToMeeting,Mikogo), and support online document management.

 

Advisors are slowly shifting to the cloud one step at a time right now. So moving everything at once would be overwhelming. 

 

Plus, Microsoft faces stiff competition from Google's cloud based productivity suite.

 

While I am all for advisor moving to the cloud, I don't see a lot of reason for advisory firms to adopt Office 365 at this point. What do you think?

Comments (6)

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jamesr212
Au Contraire Mr. Gluck, synchronicity alone might be worth the switch. Keeping Outlook synced with a blackberry and multiple users would all be easier with cloud computing as would document editing.

The details and functionality of Office 365 will dictate the switch and the price is attractive.

Jim
jamesr212 , April 18, 2011
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johnd508
What goes around comes around.

I'm old enough to remember when centralized processing (a/k/a mainframe computing) was disparaged and distributed processing, which included stand-alone desktop PCs, became the new paradigm.

I use Google Calendar and am moving to Contacts as my address book, but prefer a local mail client (Thunderbird.) Otherwise, moving to Word, Excel, etc.,in the Cloud has its appeal because it means that I can sit down at any PC or Apple anywhere and be in business. My main PC application is MPI Stylus which I can operate entirely on a large capacity memory stick, so is quite portable. Maybe someday I will be able to operate it in the Cloud too.

JFD
johnd508 , April 18, 2011
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stevesw
I have been anxiously awaiting this development. One more step in the process of creating my virtual office on some sunny Caribbean beach!

S
stevesw , April 18, 2011
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agluck
Interesting responses. You might be interested in this follow up review saying Google's suite is stronger for small businesses at http://www.pcworld.com/busines...esses.html
agluck , April 20, 2011
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gabriel.cooper
I'll offer a slightly different opinion here- from where I stand I think only some Advisors aren't ready. A good number of those only because Microsoft hasn't pushed as heavily into the space, and we're all a bit behind the rest of the world due to regulatory drag anyway.

Here's why I think many are ready to make the leap to Office 365 - many Office users are already using cloud-like features inside of Office itself or by selectively using other services to plug vital gaps.

For the first part, using web based features in conjunction with the current edition of Office, I'm talking about Sharepoint or Skydrive/Live.com. While it's rare among smaller businesses, Sharepoint is a readily available to add synchronization, web based collaboration, and dedicated process management portals to the use of Office components. Given that it's often bundled with hosted Exchange services, it's not terribly expensive and is a common example of outsourcing IT. Even easier to obtain, a free Windows Live account allows users to save documents to their Skydrive, edit them in the current versions of Office WebApps, and make them available to any of their other devices. A lot of my Rep/Advisor clients are doing this.

For the second part, plugging gaps, let's look at how many Office users have started using a Google Calendar to synchronize events or Google Docs to collaborate with partners and clients... but haven't gone all the way to using Google Apps. Anybody that switches only part of their office package just to achieve a certain bit of cloud functionality is begging for their primary provider to offer the functionality. It's common among Rep/Advisors. I'm a Google Apps user and love their service, but many of Microsoft's desktop components are frankly better and I understand why users stay with them. Whenever someone splits the difference like this, they are complicating their lives in a way that suggests neither product is fully meeting their needs. 365 might.

In my opinion, Office 365 will be a success unless Microsoft makes extreme and repeated mistakes in its rollout. This seems unlikely as the product appears substantially similar to existing services, like Live.com, which work very well.
gabriel.cooper , April 26, 2011
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steveambuul
I hope that Gabriel is right. SmartOffice's deep integration with Outlook is one of the top reasons advisors switch from other CRMs (even Dynamics!), but it sure is expensive to maintain with all those versions out there.

We have an entire team of employees whose sole job is managing our CRM's deep integration with Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, etc). Windows 2003, XP, Vista, Windows 7, and all flavors of Office (service pacs, 32-bit, 64-bit, etc). When enough advisors switch to web-based apps, we'll only need to manage integrations with a single version of each vendors Office suite (Microsoft, Google, etc).
steveambuul , April 29, 2011

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