New productivity apps added to Office 365
This week, Microsoft have added five new productivity applications for their Office 365 Business Premium customers. Three of these apps have been previously announced (Microsoft Bookings, MileIQ, and Outlook Customer Manager). The others, (Microsoft Connections, Listings, and Invoicing) are new, so we thought we would take a quick look at all these additions – what they are, and how they can help.
These applications are available as part of the Office 365 Business Premium subscription. This is the most comprehensive and expensive licence plan for small to medium businesses at $15.00/ month per user, paid monthly, or $12.50/month per user, paid annually. The Business Premium plan is only available for companies with 300 users or less.
As well as Business Premium subscribers, these apps are also available as part of Microsoft 365 Business – released into GA at the end of October. Microsoft 365 Business bundles together Office 365, Windows 10, security features, and mobile device management tools to provide everything a small/medium company needs to run and grow their business.
Like the Teams/ Slack announcement, this move will no doubt be a little concerning for third-party applications which offer these services. By providing competitive tools for SMBs at no additional cost – apart from their existing subscription – Microsoft can provide a very attractive offer, encouraging customers and prospects to further centralize their business tools in Office 365, and theoretically reduce costs, by enabling these subscribers to turn away from their existing tools/service providers.
All these applications can be managed and monitored from the Business Center dashboard. In order to access the Business Center, you will need to have a Business Premium licence, and be the global admin for your tenant. Now, let’s look at what these new additions offer:
Connections is an application designed to help create and send email marketing campaigns. It can be used to build mailing lists, and send targeted campaigns. It also offers insights into campaign results, like send/ open/ and click rates, so performance can be measured, and campaign refinements can be made. Find out more about getting started with Connections here.
It’s crucial that businesses ensure their company details remain accurate and up to date, for example: addresses, opening times, contact details etc. Microsoft Listings has been created to make brand engagement easier for businesses. Listings makes it easier for people to find businesses and read reviews by publishing details to Facebook, Google, Yelp and Bing. Like all these new apps, Listings can be managed from the Business Center dashboard, and has a widget showing business performance across search and social media. Find out more about Listings here.
Bookings has been around in preview since June, and went into general availability on the 31st October 2017. It is a scheduling tool for businesses who need to create and manage appointments with their clients, such as hairdressers, dentists, or mechanics for example. Bookings is an online and mobile app, and it has three main features:
- A booking page where your customers can schedule appointments with the staff member who should provide the service. You can show this page on Facebook, where your customers can schedule appointments, or your own web site.
- A set of web-based, business-facing pages where business owners can record customer preferences, manage staff lists and schedules, define services and pricing, set business hours, and customize how services and staff are scheduled.
- A business-facing mobile app where business owners can see all of their bookings, access customer lists and contact information, and make manual bookings.
Interestingly, Bookings is enabled by default for Business Premium, or Education A3 or A5 subscribers. Unlike the other apps, Bookings is available with an Enterprise E3 or E5 licence, but it turned off by default. You can find out how to enable it for enterprises here, this article also notes that ‘Office 365 Business apps are rolling out for Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 customers’ so if you’re on an enterprise licence plan – watch this space, these apps could be coming to you soon! Find out more about Bookings here.
Invoicing is an online and mobile app for creating and sending invoices. The app allows you to manage invoicing and payments on the move. The application also coordinates fast online payments with providers like PayPal, and integrates with QuickBooks. Find out more about Invoicing here.
‘Accurate mileage reporting in the palm of your hand’. MileIQ is a mileage tracking app, created by Mobile Data Labs – who were acquired by Microsoft in November 2015. The app uses mobile device sensors to track and calculate business mileage, and offers detailed reporting, with an intuitive UI.
To create an account, or sign into an existing one, Office 365 Business premium users can use the following link: https://www.mileiq.com/office365 and enter their Office 365 credentials to activate this benefit.
When cost is removed (or distanced) from the equation, new application adoption becomes all about the feature-set. Of course, existing Business Premium, or Microsoft 365 subscribers will be drawn to these *free* tools, but only if they offer better, or at least comparable functionality to their current systems. Only time will tell whether this is the case, it will be interesting to see how these tools measure up, and if/when they are brought into enterprise subscription plans.