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Microsoft 365: Not Just a Product, But a Vision

As I wrote in last week's post, "It's About the Meeting, Not the Product," Microsoft (as well as other enterprise communications and collaboration vendors) is starting to break down its product-focused organizational silos to better address the business needs of its customers. Microsoft 365, introduced yesterday at the company's Inspire 2017 partner conference, is further evidence of that.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Inspire 2017

As Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO said during his keynote, "Business leaders are looking at how they can apply digital technology and build systems of intelligence to rethink how to empower employees, engage customers, optimize operations and transform products. We are making progress, but future growth depends on our collective ability to transcend current product category definitions and business models."

Microsoft 365 Enterprise, which integrates Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, is not just a product. But rather, Nadella said, it is a vision for how Microsoft delivers customer experiences as part of the modern, empowered workplace.

In a blog post introducing this product cum vision, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate VP for the Office team, emphasized that Microsoft 365 represents a "fundamental shift" in how Microsoft designs, builds, and goes to market going forward. The goal, at least in part, is to facilitate creativity within companies of all sizes while enabling seamless and secure teamwork.

With Microsoft 365, workers will be able to interact with content via the Microsoft Ink digital pen, voice, and touch -- all informed by artificial intelligence and machine learning. They'll be able to work in persistent team-specific virtual workspaces, facilitated by Microsoft's team collaboration tool, Teams, as part of what Koenigsbauer described as a "universal toolkit for teamwork" that also supports email, voice, and video conversations, as well as real-time content sharing.

To simplify management, Microsoft 365 Enterprise features a unified dashboard that provides visibility across users, devices, apps, and services. And, it draws on Microsoft's advanced intelligent security mechanisms to alleviate threats and protect user identities, apps, data, and devices while enabling data archiving, governance, and discovery capabilities.

Fruit of the Loom is one company already taking advantage of Microsoft 365 Enterprise, which will be available in E3 and E5 licensing plans beginning Aug. 1.

"My vision for Fruit of the Loom is to foster an engaged workforce with the skills and capabilities to deliver on our strategies around product innovation, customer insights, and speed to market," Terri Wiethorn, chief human resources officer at Fruit of the Loom, shared in a Microsoft case study. "To achieve that vision, we provide opportunities for communication and collaboration across the enterprise, from our firstline workers to our executives."

As an example, the case study described how one senior manager in Fruit of the Loom's safety group finalized a two-year project on new safety gloves with teams in Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and Canada "in a single, two-hour video call" via Skype for Business Online.

Tony Pelaski, COO at Fruit of the Loom, said the move to Microsoft 365 Enterprise, via the E5 plan, came as the company sought to engender a "new culture of work that securely empowers teamwork and creativity for all workers."

Microsoft also is offering an SMB version of Microsoft 365, for companies with up to 300 users. Microsoft 365 Business will be available for public preview on Aug. 2, with general availability planned for this fall. Microsoft 365 Business will cost $20 per user, per month.

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