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Microsoft is fully embracing the cloud. The software giant unveiled Microsoft 365 last year, promising full cloud capabilities for businesses looking to more effectively bundle and run their business and enterprise solutions. 

At the same time, the announcement (and subsequent implementation) also revealed some branding problems. Many users have called Office 365, the cloud productivity suite from the same provider, Microsoft 365 since its original launch in 2011. Now, they’re clearly distinct solutions.

As a business, you might benefit from one option or the other – but you won’t know the best path until you actually understand both solutions. Is Microsoft 365 or Office 365 the right fit for your business? Join us on a deep dive to find out.

The Basics: Office 365

You’re probably already familiar with Office 365, the newest version of the most popular productivity suite around the globe. It includes applications like the mailing client Outlook, the word processing tool Word, the database Access, and the spreadsheet tool Excel.

All of them are classic names, and need no further introduction here. Office 365 takes each of them, and adds cloud capabilities. For your business, that means:

  • Better data security and control, including disaster recovery.
  • More remote capabilities, removing the need for local network drive management.
  • Better organization and collaboration across teams.

So far, so straightforward. There’s a reason that during its seven years in existence, Office 365 has continually grown in business applications. Enterprises across industries are leveraging it for more productive workplaces. 

The Basics: Microsoft 365

Most IT managers and C-suite execs are familiar with Office 365. How does Microsoft 365 fit into that equation? The answer to that question deserves further exploration as you decide which is the best fit for your business.

To make that choice, you first have to understand the nature of the platform. In a thorough review of the solution, ZDNet described Microsoft 365 as

an integrated bundle of Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (aka EMS, which includes Intune device management, analytics and some Azure Active Directory capabilities), sold on a subscription basis. Microsoft 365 is the evolution of the bundles formerly known as “Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5.”

That, in turn, requires a more thorough analysis and breakdown. The most obvious first: Microsoft 365 is Office 365, and then some. It adds Windows 10, along with security capabilities that businesses can immediately benefit from. All of that comes on a subscription basis, making for more predictable overhead costs on the IT level.

In other words, it’s a bundling solution. Customers on the business or enterprise level get the productivity they already have with Office 365, in addition to the basic operating system and some advanced security solutions all for one subscription price. That price starts at $20 per user per month for the business solution, and can be customized on a per-company basis for the enterprise solutions, designed for 300 or more users.

Three Reasons to Switch to Microsoft 365 

The basic differences between Office and Microsoft 365 already suggest some of the reasons you might want to switch from the former to the latter, or migrate to this provider to begin with. Let’s break it down a bit further to help you make the right business decision.

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1) You Already Operate All Components in Your Company

The most obvious decision to be made occurs when you take stock of your software solutions, and realize all of the functions offered within Microsoft 365 are already at play in your operations. We’ve touched on the popularity of Office 365 above; Windows 10 has a similarly high market share, and an increasing number of businesses are already implementing security and mobility solutions to improve their daily workflow and protect against cyber threats.

If that’s the case for you, a switch to Microsoft 365 becomes obvious. Instead of having to manage and pay for each service piecemeal, you can easily bundle them into a single solution. That’s the goal behind Microsoft 365, and the scenario in which it will be most immediately successful. So why not take advantage of it?

2) You Have a Need for Better Security and Mobility

The second most obvious decision comes from the scenario that, especially among SMBs, is probably the most popular. In this scenario, your business is already using both Office 365 and Windows 10, but hasn’t leveraged the security and mobility features of Microsoft’s Azure services yet. Signing up for Microsoft 365 on the enterprise level gives you access to:

  • Controlled and identity-driven cloud access
  • Identity-driven security features
  • Mobile device and app management
  • Secured collaboration and protected corporate data
  • Desktop virtualization services.

All of them come with their own, significant security benefits. To leverage them, you could sign up for individual Azure services. Or you could subscribe to Microsoft 365, which provide you with the missing component on top of your already existing subscriptions from the same provider.

3) You’re Looking to Consolidate Your Platforms

Finally, the third most common scenario occurs when your business already has some productivity, OS, and security/mobility solutions in place, but they are disparate and disjointed. The need for platform convergence has long been discussed by IT experts, as more vendor solutions crowd a field. Stop paying attention for a minute, and your company has too many technology solutions to handle for effective data consistency and management.

In that case, looking for convergence tends to make sense. Here, Microsoft 365 is a good solution precisely it multiple services and puts them under the same roof. That means easier management, both in billing and the daily management performed by IT. Through this type of consolidation, change and daily operations management becomes much more reasonable.

Three Reasons to Stay with Office 365

Because of the above benefits and scenarios, many organizations of all sizes have begun to make the switch to Microsoft 365. That doesn’t mean it’s the best choice by default. Depending on your situation, switching to or staying with Office 365 might actually be the better fit for your business. 

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1) You Don’t Need all Components Offered in Microsoft 365

Bundling naturally makes sense if you can actually leverage all of the features included in the package. But what if you don’t? It’s a more common question than you might think.

A reliance on Apple computers within your office may make MacOS your default operating system. You might be leveraging Google’s G-Suite for your productivity needs. Whatever the case, satisfaction with a service also offered within the new comprehensive 365 solution may cause you to stay away from making the switch.

That does introduce some convergence challenges, as mentioned above. In some scenarios, though, it’s actually the best choice. You may simply choose to stay with Office 3665 or your current solutions, looking for integrations instead of a comprehensive switch.

2) You’re Haven’t Made the Move to Microsoft (Yet)

This is essentially the above scenario, just taken to the extreme. What if you use none of Microsoft’s solutions yet? A switch to Microsoft 365 may result in a culture shock that will be difficult to manage. Gradual change tends to be the better choice to introduce sustainable success.

In that scenario, consider a switch to Office 365 first. It’s the most well-known solution of the three Microsoft 365 components, even running on Mac computers. As such, the switch will be more natural, allowing you to make inroads before 

3) Your Team Tends to Resist Change in Drastic Forms

Finally, it’s important to keep your own teams in mind as well. As any experienced IT pro knows, even the best solutions will fail if you cannot get the teams for which they are intended to actually use them. That’s even more likely if you implement multiple solutions at once, at which point change can become overwhelming.

When that is the case, it makes sense to start slowly first. This is a similar situation to the above; introduce Office 365, then migrate to Microsoft 365 after the initial introductory phase. That way, you can make headway with the most obvious solution first, then introduce follow-ups down the road instead of a full-time migration from the start.

Building a Better Plan for Sustainable Business Success

Are you ready for Microsoft 365? In many scenarios, the answer is a resounding yes. At the same time, don’t assume by default that will be the case. It can present a major switch, and one that you will need to be prepared for.

The first stop has to be a determination of whether Microsoft 365 or Office 365 are actually a better fit for your business. That, in turn, requires thorough understanding of both solutions. Only then can you make a decision to move your business forward.

In either case, you might need help in the implementation phase. That’s where we come in. Our expertise in MIcrosoft’s cloud solutions could be a perfect fit for your migration needs. Contact us to learn more about your various options, and get the help you need to start the process.

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About Jess Coburn

It's Jess's responsibility as CEO and Founder of Applied Innovations to set the direction of Applied Innovations services to ensure that as a company we're consistently meeting the needs of our customers to help drive their success. In his spare time, Jess enjoys many of the things that made him a geek to begin with. That includes sexy new hardware, learning new technology and even a videogame or two! When you can’t find him at the office (which admittedly is rare), you’ll likely find him at the grill or in front of his smoker getting ready for some lip-smacking ribs to enjoy with his wife and two kids.

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