Everything that glitters is not gold. But sometimes it is. If you have ever experienced "Shiny Object Syndrome" (Objectivius Shinium Syndromus) you know that for each recommendation for change that produces gold, there are just as many that do not hit pay-dirt.
As a manager or decision-maker, you carefully consider each shiny new technology: is it gold or is it fool's gold?
Right now IT may be talking about Office 365 Exchange Online or Hosted Online Email as the new "must have" software investments.
In this case IT may be about to strike gold
Office 365 will change the way your business operates, how your employees collaborate, and how you communicate with your business partners and clients.
Office 365 Exchange Online combined with SharePoint and OneDrive will improve your email security, disaster recovery, collaboration and data management while at the same time reducing the costs associated with server upgrades, maintenance and support.
There are good business reasons to consider the move to Office 365 Exchange Online.
This is one IT shiny object syndrome recommendation that you should seriously consider exploring.
Why Office 365 Exchange Online
One of the first things that may catch IT’s eye is simplified administration of your email through a move to Exchange Online as well as the ability to maintain your entire staff's critical Office applications at the most current level. Shiny Objects that attract IT's attention include:
- Reduced server requirements – No need to constantly upgrade server hardware to support email and Exchange.
- Better backup, security and disaster recovery – Email is how we communicate. You need to know your emails are backed-up, secure, and available in case of a disaster.
- Critical software and applications are always up to date – When you manage your own Exchange and email solution you need to manage every hardware and software update. With Exchange Online and Office 365 you always know your email and Office applications are maintained at the most current level.
- Provide email, data, and applications to remote users regardless of device – We all expect to be able to read our emails, work on projects, and access our critical Office applications at any time and from any device. Exchange Online and Office 365 provide this ability without adding extra layers of security and complexity to your current IT environment.
Shiny object syndrome aside, the business case is clear. Moving to Exchange Online and Office 365 reduces the need for costly onsite hardware, storage and management that are required when you host your own Exchange email services.
In addition, moving your email to the cloud creates a level of access, security, redundancy & disaster recovery that is normally not cost-effective for small to mid-sized companies to provide internally.
With Exchange Online and Office 365 your staff can have the type of secure access to email, data and applications that they expect whether you are a 15 person professional firm or a Fortune 500 company.
SharePoint and OneDrive for Business are game-changers
These cloud technologies allow you to break the data growth cycle and collaborate in real time.
Ask an IT person what keeps them up at night and they will mention hardware failures, loss of internet and phone services, security breaches and access to critical applications.
Once you get through these core issues the next item is normally data. Data grows, every-day, and everyone expects their data, their documents, spreadsheets, emails, and presentations to be available at every moment, from any location, and never lost.
Storing and managing data is a challenge that requires constant attention. You probably remember when your IT staff told you about the Shiny Object called a Storage Area Network or SAN. Everyone had to have one. The only problem was by the time you installed your first SAN your IT department most likely realized they needed a newer, shinier SAN. Data never stops growing but your budget for IT purchases most likely does not have this same magical ability.
SharePoint and OneDrive, included as part of Office 365, provide new ways to deal with data. Today finding a document or spreadsheet on your network might seem like a daunting task. Finding someone else’s documents seems insurmountable, and may be based on how your data is currently secured.
With SharePoint and OneDrive you can break the cycle of data growth, improve access to data for everyone, and remove your organization from the constant need to upgrade your network hardware to meet your data storage requirements.
OneDrive for Business provides storage in the cloud, managed, maintained, secured and backed-up by Microsoft. It grows with your organization without the need for additional onsite hardware, space, or staff. This ability to store your data in the cloud provides access from any location and the ability to collaborate on projects through the ability to share your documents, spreadsheets and data with both internal staff and, when appropriate, your business partners and clients.
The idea of sharing as opposed to sending data from point-to-point brings the next Shiny Object into sight: SharePoint.
SharePoint allows you to share your data securely from a single point (see that play on words?) to allow multiple users to find and collaborate on a single copy of a document, spreadsheet or presentation. SharePoint reduces data growth by eliminating the multiple copies of information that currently reside on your network.
For IT the Shiny Object Syndrome is triggered by the fact that moving to Office 365 with SharePoint & OneDrive delivers the ability to manage a never ending increase in data and user expectations around how data can be found, shared and used. It is always easier to sleep at night knowing your data is secure, and anything that reduces data growth makes IT happy.
The pay-dirt from a business perspective is collaboration and the increase in productivity that collaboration can provide.
This is not gold that is easily mined.
Increasing productivity is the real Shiny Object here
And it requires hard work.
In the end Office 365, Online Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive are just tools. How you implement and use these tools will determine if your decision to make the move to the cloud was a golden opportunity or simply another Shiny Object that will fade over time.
The business opportunities, return on investment, and ability to improve productivity are real. But we've seen plenty of clients implement this new Shiny Object and continue to work the way they have in the past with the older tools they are leaving behind. To say that this is not an effective approach is an understatement.
Positive change can only happen with a good implementation plan supported by opportunities for staff training and development, tied to a commitment to change the culture of how your company works at all levels.
If you are ready for a new way to do business, IT has the right Shiny Object in sight if they are recommending Online Exchange & Office 365.