Mobile computing, mobility, mobile devices and cloud services are all phrases that I throw around quite frequently. That is primarily because the move from personal computers to mobile devices is happening so quickly, and it is largely led by cloud and app developers satisfying the demands of a fast growing base of users.
A good example of how much this demand is driving innovation and new ways of delivering services is Microsoft’s success with Office 365, their cloud platform for email, communications and storage as well as hosted applications and their Office suite of business products.
About a year and a half ago, Microsoft moved towards a common set of cloud services for personal, small and mid-size business and enterprise users. Since that time they have continued to add new services, new features and have moved functionality from the enterprise levels down to the small business platforms. They have also increased their focus on other mobile platforms by developing apps for devices from their competitors.
Recent announcements by Microsoft, such as their focus on app development for Apple and soon Android, make it clear that they are betting heavily on cloud and mobile platforms as the future of their business, especially as their desktop operating system footprint shrinks. iPad owners can now get Word, Excel and Powerpoint with an Office 365 subscription.
Of course they are continuing their strategy of a unified experience across their computing and mobile devices such as the Windows Phone, Surface and Windows tablets as well as Windows 8.1 for the PC. With pieces of Office 365 inhabiting all of these devices, and a Microsoft web account, users can take advantage of a number of services such as free cloud storage that automatically syncs your files between all of your devices.
One advantage (and there are many) of moving to cloud based applications like Microsoft’s Office 365 is that they are upgraded on a more frequent schedule. Since these cloud services are paid for on a monthly basis the advantage to users is that they are always getting the latest version and new features that are added to the software that they are subscribing to.
A good example is on the business versions of Office 365 where Microsoft recently upgraded OneDrive cloud storage to 1 terabyte and added the Yammer business social media product to the mid-size business account plans. That kind of additional functionality and service would be expensive to do with servers installed in your business.
The promise of information technology to deliver greater levels of communication, productivity and business intelligence is happening at an accelerating rate and is often difficult to keep up with. But I can tell you that we have moved thousands of users to Office 365 and they now have access to technologies and services that are not available to businesses that are still running internal servers with older software versions.