We all know about the big 5, they have been around for donkeys;
Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote are familiar to everyone who has touched a computer in the last decade (I hope). Recently, Microsoft released many new additions to the Office arsenal, particularly over summer 2017 (around the same time as the Microsoft Insight event).
This blog will run through 14 not so commonly recognised Microsoft applications, some you may have used, others you may not yet be aware of! I’m excluding Publisher, Access, Project and Visio from this list too as I consider these mainstream, second to the big 5.
In an effort to keep this short and sweet, a simple bullet-point list of key features for each application is listed without a deep-dive. You could literally write a blog on each independent application, the idea behind this is to enable you to get a rough understanding of what each app is and what it can do. I’ve watered down the marketing fluff and cut straight to the point.
Lets start with;
1. Microsoft StaffHub
Does your organisation use a human resources management tool (for example Resource Guru)? Microsoft StaffHub is similar, offering the following functionality;
- Scheduling Staff
- Timesheets/time recording
- Enable access to training material & company documentation such as the employee handbook
- Booking time off / annual leave
StaffHub was released on January 12th 2017.
2. Microsoft Sway
Fundamentally Sway is like PowerPoint on steroids. It’s best thought of as PowerPoints naughty little brother. Sway has been around for a couple of years (since August 5th, 2015) and offers the following functionality;
- Storytelling style presentation
- Handles rich media content
- Turns basic ideas and content into professional presentation material
- Free-flowing version of SharePoint
3. Microsoft Flow
Flow is a little more complex, it requires other applications to work efficiently. Released in January 2017, this too is a relatively new application. What does it do?
- Automates workflows for your applications
- Basically, just captures sales leads
For example, someone tweets about your company, a flow would filter the tweets about your company to highlight only those accounts with over 100 followers and adds a lead to your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system.
4. Microsoft Stream
This is a sexy one, I like this one. With Stream, you can create separate channels of media content and broadcast it. For example; recordings of classes, meetings, presentations, training sessions, or other videos that aid your team’s collaboration.
- Upload, view and share videos securely (uses AAD)
- Comments/discussion section on videos (a bit like YouTube)
- You can tag timecodes in comments
It can actually do some really clever stuff like autogenerated captions, deep search, transcript mode and even face detection (so you can skip to bits when a particular individual is speaking only).
Summed-up in one line – ‘Corporate Social Media Site’. A little like a private Facebook site. Now you might be wondering, why!? We use Yammer where I work and it’s really useful. We all see regular updates broadcast company-wide or to specific project teams we may be members of. For example, I attended an event with a colleague and my colleague shared the notes and URL links picked up from the event to the rest of the team who were unable to attend.
- Start a Group for a project, your team, or anything at all (you could create a company-band Yammer!)
- Share ideas, questions, and updates with your co-workers
- Public Groups for working in the open; Private Groups for sensitive ideas
- Safely collaborate with partners and customers with External Groups
- Upload files, photos, and videos and have conversations around them
- Stay connected with Yammer apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone
6. Microsoft Forms
This is a quick one, it’s so simple. Currently at the time of writing this it’s in public preview (Sept 2017). Forms is a bit like SurveyMonkey;
- Create questionnaires, a quiz or survey
Really….that’s it! You can choose from types of questions such as multiple choice, text-based answer or rating.
7. Microsoft PowerApps
Not really an application in its own right but PowerApps is more of a featured functionality within the 365 platform.
- Connect exsisting LOB apps using exposed APIs
- Integrate applications with your Office 365 suite
8. Microsoft Delve
Ever wondered how much time you spend responding to emails or attending meetings? Delve will tell you, well, based on the accuracy of your Outlook calendar integration. You can set a daily digest to be emailed to you, enabling insights into who you have collaborated on documents with recently and even how much time you have been putting in, out of typical work hours;
- See who has been working on what (provided you have permissions to see that information)
- See how much time you’ve spent responding to emails, attending meetings and being productive (focused)
- Set goals to work towards, for example, valuable focus time in hours and less time conducting emails and working after hours
9. Microsoft Teams
‘Teams’ is available both as a web-based application and a locally installed UI (User Interface). In layman’s terms, the interface consolidates the following;
- Instant Messaging (IM) / Skype for Business
- File sharing and collaboration / OneDrive for Business
- Meetings and appointments / Outlook Calendar integration
A team could be created to enable a central medium between all employees from different departments who are working towards the same project. Another useful feature is to use the Teams UI in tandem with a SharePoint Online Team Site and share a team OneNote. Sync the notebook locally using your OneDrive for Business client/AAD credentials.
10. Microsoft MileIQ
MileIQ was an independent organisation (Mobile Data Labs) that Microsoft acquired a couple of years ago. However, MileIQ was announced in July 2017. One can only assume this was to add more ammunition to selling the 365-cloud dream to smaller businesses. What does it do?
- Expenses tracking
- Travel expense claims such as fuel allowances and mileage
11. Microsoft Listings
Listings is a little bit like MailChimp. Amongst other things, it’s primary goal is to get your business, business. You can setup a feedback-style reviews with data capture to enable you to evaluate your organisations customer satisfaction analytics.
- Marketing tool (can tell you how your business is doing on social media)
- Monitor things like;
- Open rates (web pages)
- Clicks (web pages)
- New business (captured data)
- Redemptions (promotional voucher codes for example)
Apologies for the lack of consistency with this one, there is not currently an icon/logo for this application (it’s that new!). I think it’s going to be a purple icon with a white ‘L’.
12. Microsoft Invoicing
Microsoft Invoicing has been described as a watered-down CRM solution or comparable to products from Sage. Again, this is intended to further enable smaller organisations with additional functionality and value from their 365 tenant.
- Send professional PDF invoices to customers
- Send professional looking quotes and estimates to customers
- Invoicing features
13. Microsoft Bookings
A good example for using bookings would be a personal trainer. They simply make their classes available online and people book themselves in;
- Customers easily book appointments with you whenever they want (24/7)
- Schedule and manage appointments with your customers
- Gives you a quick and easy alternative to scheduling appointments over the phone
- Automatic confirmations and reminders that save time
I guess this could also work for a barber?
14. Microsoft Connections
With connections, you can send out newsletters and promotional material to your customer-base. You can also setup referral schemes and monitor campaigns;
- Create and send Connections campaigns
- Establish mailing lists for subscriber-base
- Create a web form to sign up to the mailing list
- Monitor subscriber growth in relation to promotional activity
I hope you found at least one application that you didn’t know anything about before reading this blog! You should now recognise the app icons and know roughly what each product does at a high-level.