Time to review your office collaboration tools? Here are the top reasons to consider Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 continues to gain traction as the leading business cloud service. It’s for good reason – and not just for the big business end of town. If you are a SME looking to upgrade from an on-premise environment or a start-up considering your technology options, it’s worth your while to take a serious look at Office 365. As a collaborative tool, it is both powerful and easy to use

Office is no longer just about Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook – although it is worth noting that the Business Premium subscription now comes with a 50GB mailbox that you can access via Outlook or via web access.

In our opinion, the biggest benefits for small business come from the features that enable you to collaborate better and work smarter. Here, we summarise some of the most compelling reasons every business owner should consider Office 365.

SharePoint keeps getting better and Office 365 takes it to the next level

 If you’re not already using SharePoint, Office 365 gives you plenty of reasons to look at this ever-improving tool and the many benefits of what is essentially a secure and agile file server in the cloud. These are the highlights:

  • Document version control – a great feature that previously came at a big cost.
  • Transition old files into SharePoint – this is something IT Smart Solutions can assist you with and can be done in the background of your Microsoft integration.
  • Syncing that really works – no more messing around with poor syncing, Microsoft has addressed the issues and now offers a much-improved user experience.
  • Outstanding mobility – your team can easily access files from home or from the office, no need to dial into VPNs, and no need for a separate server.

  • Premium security – this is a key issue for all businesses as outlined in our recent article about ransomware viruses. Using Office 365 is more secure than your own smaller server which anyone who breaks in can easily walk away with. This server is in the cloud and resides in a secure data centre. It also allows for two-factor authentication in its programs so security increases.

Scale up and achieve more with Skype for Business 

With Office365, Skype for Business gets more useful, more user friendly and offers you a greater range of options.

  • Skype for Business conference calls – previously you would have needed conferencing equipment with additional licensing. You can now do a Skype conference meeting with up to 250 people. They can join by Skype and by phone (with E5 licencing) easily and seamlessly.
  • Flexible and scalable – hook it up to your boardroom and television for a face to face conference. Use it for meetings, to demonstrate a product or for training – the options are endless.
  • Record sessions – a simple concept but how incredibly useful it is to be able to record a training session or discussion for future reference. 

Sync and search with OneNote to make it super-efficient

The primary purpose of OneNote is to improve communication, collaboration and efficiency and Office 365 ramps up capability in all of these areas.

  • Sync notes between devices – from computer to tablet to smart phone, notes are ready to access and you can create server based individual notes, as well as company shared notes.
  • Powerful search function – Office365 makes looking for all files and documents, through all programs, much easier. OneNote in particular has a great search function and makes finding notes easy and fast.

This is just the beginning

These tips give you some idea about how beneficial Office365 can be for your business – and it’s only a highlights list. There is a lot more you can do. If you’re looking for new solutions as your business grows, or you’re just getting started and want to set up the best possible system from the word go, Office 365 has a lot to offer.

If this all sounds great but you’re still not 100% sure where to start, do get in touch. We can assist with cutting through the clutter of information out there and help you get a clear sense of the features that will best help your business.

Data security for SMEs – don’t be an easy target for hackers

Data security threats, such as from ransomware, are becoming increasingly common and are putting a wider range of businesses at risk. While high profile attacks on large organisations attract the most media attention, smaller sized businesses are becoming increasingly vulnerable. 

 And while these types of attacks may have had limited success in the past, for example in the amount of ransoms actually paid or the time taken to halt the spread of the virus, malware threats to computer data are likely to become more numerous and effective. 

 Compared to large organisations, smaller businesses tend to be less prepared than their enterprise counterparts and need to act now to protect their computers and networks. 

 A false sense of security can be fatal to your data 

 As a business owner it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as a small player, you won’t attract the attention of hackers – but this complacency can be risky. Hackers are aware of the fact that larger organisations tend to have stronger security defences in place compared to SMEs, which means your business could become an easy target. 

 At IT Smart Solutions, we’ve been dealing with an increasing number of enquiries from SMEs about the challenge of protecting their systems. Reports in the media of data security threats only tell part of the story – we’ve found that businesses don’t necessarily know what they need to do to keep their computers safe.
 

 A successful cyber-attack could mean loss of data, reputational damage and inconvenience to your customers. SMEs may also have obligations under privacy laws to keep their customer’s data secure. If something goes wrong and data security is breached, your small business could become high profile for the wrong reasons. 

 What is the best course of action you can take to protect your business? 

 Steps to strengthen your defences 

 If you are going to be serious about protecting your business, be aware that it’s not just about having an anti-virus (AV) program installed. For example, AV doesn’t help in a case like ‘WannaCry’ ransomware as this is a ‘zero day’ attack –  it’s not publicly reported before becoming active, therefore a patch can’t be issued and the business is not protected.  

 Your defence needs to be multifaceted – combining a number of measures together makes your protection stronger. You can’t predict exactly what type of attack could happen tomorrow so the more comprehensive your preparation the better.  

 There are a few easy steps that IT Smart Solutions can help your business with, including:  

  1. Ensuring security patches are kept up-to-date
 
  2. Installing and managing virus protection software
 
  3. Implementing a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery solution  
  4. Minimising risk by limiting admin access on PCs  

These processes can be automated which means the security of your business is monitored on an ongoing basis. For example, we receive an alert if your AV software isn’t working properly or when patches are needed, so action can be taken immediately. 

 Also, should your data need to be recovered, your businesses can get back up and running quickly as data is saved to the cloud. While these technology safeguards are crucial, it’s also important that SMEs educate their staff about how to keep their data safe. 

 Being proactive is the best strategy 

 SMEs can be the low hanging fruit for would be hackers, so you need to ensure that your business is not available for easy picking. Without in-house IT expertise, it’s difficult for SMEs to stay on top of cybersecurity issues as your priority is to focus on running your business.  

 The next major attack could be just around the corner so you need to be proactive in defence.  

 The threat to data security is real and many Australian small businesses have so far been lucky. Taking the right steps now might well avoid a future disaster for your business. IT Smart Solutions can help you put in place a multi-pronged plan to protect your SME. Contact us today.