Microsoft announced yesterday morning that it's adding a new office suite for businesses called Microsoft 365 Business. Microsoft 365 Business is designed as a single solution for owners of small and midsize businesses looking to simplify and integrate multiple areas of their business. There are three new apps – Listings, Connections and Invoicing – that accompany add-ons to familiar programs such as Outlook and Bookings.
The service is subscription-based and can be purchased for $20 per user per month for up to 300 users. Subscribers will still have access to Office 365, which includes Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, Dynamics 365 and Flow, and will be automatically upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.
In addition to these applications, Microsoft 365 Business will have the power of a CRM, payroll service and email marketing service. The new subscription plan also incorporates security features, mobile device management and IT admin security measures to ensure that small businesses operate safely and efficiently. With all of these new features, small businesses everywhere will have the ability to revamp different aspects of their business. Here's a snapshot of what's new in Microsoft 365 Business.
New apps: Listings, Connections and Invoicing
The Microsoft 365 Business bundle includes three new apps: Listings, Connections and Invoicing. In addition to being part of this new offer, these apps can be independently downloaded by Office 365 Business Premium subscribers.
Listings gives small business owners the opportunity to control how their business information appears on Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp, all in one place. In addition to adjusting the company's name, logo, address and hours in one place, business owners can monitor customer reviews. It's worth noting, however, that this service currently only supports businesses with one location.
Connections is a template-based email marketing client that allows business owners to create announcements and newsletters, as well as monitor referrals and issue incentives, such as discount codes, to top referrers. Business owners can monitor who has opened their emails and who has clicked on links within the emails through the Connections tool. Connections is entirely template-based, so small businesses looking for some creative freedom when it comes to designing and creating emails for campaigns may be better off seeking a third-party service.
Invoicing allows businesses to create custom-made, professional invoices for their customers. The service syncs with QuickBooks and Dynamics 365, and payments can be completed with PayPal. In addition to these third-party integrations, Invoicing allows business owners to track pending payments, set sales tax, add discounts and transform estimates into invoices.
All three of these apps are integrated into the Business Center. Business owners can view analytics and get a bird's-eye view of each program from one dashboard. The Business Center can also be used to navigate between other Microsoft 365 Business features like Bookings and Contacts.
Microsoft 365 Business subscribers automatically have Windows Defender enabled when they install their new program suite. It enables automatic updates so security features are constantly up to date. In addition to heightened device security, other measures in Microsoft 365 Business allow a business owner to wipe company data from lost or stolen devices. The device's data is immediately wiped when the device reconnects to the cloud.
Business owners can manage employee access by creating distinct groups of employees and adjusting permissions associated with each group. This will manage an employee's access to company files and even certain apps in the app store. It does not, however, provide an option to create a group within a group, and specific users within each group cannot have special permissions, which is a vital tool for some IT professionals.
Another built-in security feature touches on mobile device management. While employees can use personal devices for work, Microsoft 365 Business includes features that prevent employees from copying and pasting company data into personal email messages. It also protects company information, requiring a specified PIN to access work accounts.
Other new features
In addition to its new apps and security features, Microsoft 365 Business updates and adds on to existing features, such as Outlook Customer Manager, Bookings and MileIQ. Outlook Customer Manager allows business owners to see a customer's full profile on the same screen as Outlook. This is crucial for building and maintaining customer relationships, and not having to flip between multiple windows may increase efficiency.
With Bookings, customers can easily set up appointments through a simple webpage that integrates with Facebook. Once an appointment is created, it's automatically added to your workers' calendars and updates automatically.
MileIQ tracks worker mileage through automatic drive detection and mileage logging, and it features analytics that report on the data. Small business owners also have the option to classify a trip as personal or professional with only one swipe. Microsoft 365 Business also comes with StaffHub, an existing Microsoft app that manages scheduling and allows managers to plan employee hours.
Microsoft 365 Business offers a bunch of new features that businesses can use to grow and improve efficiency. The biggest draw seems to be its integration. By providing one solution for businesses owners to manage multiple facets of their business, Microsoft is working to make everything more efficient. The many features could overwhelm some businesses, though, especially startups or other small operations. Microsoft does offer all the apps to Office 365 Business Premium subscribers, allowing smaller businesses to select what they need.