By David Gildeh, Director of Cloud Services for Alfresco
Users trying Office365 will immediately be struck by how familiar Office365 is to their on-premise counterparts, Exchange and SharePoint. While Microsoft took a tactical move to repurpose their existing products, they failed to understand the three key rules of cloud software, which is why users will find Office365 lacking compared to other offerings and your investment will struggle to get the adoption required.
1. Simplicity & Usability
Most end-users hate SharePoint. Its site-centric approach to collaboration makes SharePoint a dumping ground for documents instead of promoting collaboration between users. In addition, many users find SharePoint complicated and out of date compared to the new consumer tools they use outside work.
Unfortunately, Office365 has done little to improve this, meaning users will still face the same frustrations using the cloud service as they did when SharePoint was only available on-premise.
2. Multi-Device Access
One of the key advantages of cloud is secure, easy access to your data anywhere on any device. In today’s BYOD world, not being able to support a range of mobile devices and desktops is a restriction on your users, who will ultimately fail to adopt the service.
Microsoft doesn’t yet provide iOS or Android apps and no out of the box desktop sync so you’ll need to purchase additional apps from a third party or risk confidential documents going to Dropbox.
3. New Use Cases
Adopting a cloud service should open up new use cases that are difficult to do on-premise. One of the key use cases for cloud are collaboration tools with external third parties. While many cloud services provide favourable pricing and additional security features to work with external parties, Office365 is still as difficult and expensive to use as SharePoint was on-premise for external collaboration. Did you know that all Office365 users must have licensed seats and there is no concept of ‘guest’ that can access or share content on the site? Again, this restriction will either make Office365 an expensive proposition for your business or force your users to consumer cloud services such as Dropbox, losing control over your documents.
Good for Business? Not yet.
While Microsoft is keen to move its on-premise customers to its cloud service (1), by not addressing the disadvantages of SharePoint on-premise, most companies will be let down if they make the jump, using Office365 for its email capabilities, but having to procure a separate collaboration tool that meets the needs of todays user.
The alternative is to force your users to use the collaboration tools that Office365 offers and discover your confidential business content gets spread across multiple consumer file sharing services causing a content chaos catastrophe.