Office 365 ES Scots going to war (C) 2015 S Brooks
Microsoft marshals forces for assault on Enterprise
Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Office Microsoft (Source: Microsoft)
Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Office Microsoft

Microsoft issued several announcements at its conference in Barcelona today, aimed at helping customers to succeed in the modern digital world, where mobile and cloud technologies will rule. Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela outlined in three key announcements the latest innovations that Microsoft has and will bring to market. Capossela categorise the announcement into three sections

  1. Enterprise capabilities for Office365 including communication, analytics and compliance.
  2. Dynamics CRM 2016 is now generally available for all users
  3. The introduction of PowerApps, designed for clients to customise their business software to meet current and future business processes

The driving force for these announcement was laid down by Capossela as he stated: “As businesses strive to keep up with the pace of change, they are looking to technology to drive digital transformation.

“Microsoft can help businesses achieve their transformations by empowering individuals and organizations with innovative solutions that unleash the productivity and potential of their workforce, spur entirely new ways of collaborating, and infuse intelligence into their systems and processes.”

With the recent announcement around Dynamics AX being launched early in 2016 suddenly the army of business software that Microsoft is putting together is becoming formidable.

Office 365 ES delivers more for Enterprise

Microsoft have introduced a new premium enterprise suite named Office 365 ES which contains some new capabilities to help enterprise customers. These include a single platform to compete with traditional on premise telephony solutions.  The platform includes Skype for Business with Skype Meeting Broadcast, Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) Conferencing, PSTN Calling and Cloud Private Branch Exchange. One wonders when Microsoft will add a voice recording solution as well that will take this to a new level.

This new, or rather enhanced platform has been requested by clients for some time as they look to Skype to deliver the traditional functionality that they expect. Andre Garcia, assistant vice president of Global Infrastructure Services in IT at ABM commented: “We need a strong voice and meetings solution that meets the evolving needs of our business and our employees.

“Office 365 with Skype for Business is a game changer. It will give us the ability to consolidate on a single platform for all our productivity and voice services, reducing our costs and complexity while giving employees the flexibility they need to get their jobs done no matter where they are or what device they are using.”

Delve analytics is included in Office 365 with better capabilities of delivering data visualisation including interactive dashboards that surface insight on their work day.

Finally Microsoft has introduced a new layer of compliance, giving control to corporates about what data can be shared with whom. This new feature is called Customer Lockbox and allows users to pass access to a support team if required. This is also a better eDiscovery tool that enables users to find data when needed for compliance purposes. Office 365 ES also adds Power BI and advanced threat protection to the enterprise suite, though whether these are include within the standard price is yet to be seen.

Dynamics CRM reaches GA

As promised Microsoft has also made Dynamics CRM available under general release this quarter, this is something that could not have been done a few years ago as delays often hit releases. Embedded into Outlook Dyanmics CRM is a potential challenger to Salesforce in the CRM space and it will be interesting to see if it can gain traction in the market. The new release delivers a degree of machine learning, enhancements to its mobile solution and field service applications as well as delivering integrations into other Microsoft cloud applications.

The solution has been released to select customers for several month and Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts are clearly happy with the results, Abdullatif Awadh, director of customer relationship marketing at Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts said: “To transform how you operate and to become a leader requires an internal transformation.

“We found Microsoft Dynamics CRM had what we needed, and now we’re shifting our focus to ensure our campaigns are relevant to the guest, rather than the business, because it’s the guest who drives our business.”

Introduction of PowerApps

There is a shortage of developers according to Microsoft and uses the same Gartner report as Salesforce to justify the release of a developer tool for end users. Gartner has predicted: “through 2017, the market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organization capacity to deliver them.” * (Gartner, The Enterprise App Explosion: Scaling One to 100 Mobile Apps, Adrian Leow, 07 May 2015).

PowerApps - Mobile apps (Source Microsoft)
PowerApps – Mobile apps, ultiple integrations from Day one

For Microsoft this has led to them developing power apps, delivering the ability for employees, developers and IT professionals to create apps for their enterprise. They start at a basic level and are very much a visual workflow style experience that users can be walked through. In a similar way to Excel macros and Visual basic for Excel, developers can look under the hood and start to enhance those simple workflows to produce complex programs that deliver integration between Microsoft applications that has previously not been possible.

It is now possible to create simple apps quickly for distribution onto mobile devices and Microsoft have not restricted access to just their own applications. Integration connectors are already included to link cloud services such as Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Dropbox and OneDrive and on-premises systems including SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle databases, SAP and more.

One existing user, Stéphane Cavallo, CIO of Division Habitat at Groupe Beneteau,remarked: “PowerApps is simple to use, and doesn’t require deep technical knowledge or programming skills. I can create fully-functioning apps very rapidly and easily. In fact, we’ve brought app development in-house, which has really saved us a lot of money.”

There is always a scepticism around control when introducing developer tools for end users and Powerapps is no exception to this. How IT departments or companies can control the varied solutions that might proliferate is always a question that needs to be answered. For IT teams however looking to take the Microsoft solutions to the next step Powerapps will give them the ability to deliver business process change into their enterprise at the front line.

Delivering mobile apps that make a real difference to the end users is something that has been missing from the Microsoft portfolio as it seeks to catch up with the likes of Salesforce who have had Salesforce lightning for some time.


Microsoft are finally delivering the tools that will enable companies to transform their business in the digital age. The question is whether it is too late to change the momentum. What Microsoft needs is an army of channel partners that can help deliver the change into those companies, converting them from traditional on premise Office 365 into this new era. One of the issues is that companies and staff are used to is using Office tools in a traditional way and changing those patterns can be difficult.

This is where the born in the cloud companies have an advantage. Delivering a completely new application means that creating cultural change becomes easier with a completely new application. In Office old habits die hard. An example of this is Windows. Microsoft thought it had finally upgraded their OS by introducing tiles, only to find that they needed to retain the start button for their more traditional users and finally return the desktop for those who really don’t want to change.

Implmenting real change and embedding it within an organisation is not an easy task. While Microsoft has now delivered the tools to do so it will be up to its channel and IT departments in Enterprises to deliver that change and take advantage of those tools now released. The question is whether customers will opt for the standard Office or deliver the change that Office 365 ES can enable them to.


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