I have been working on setting up Office 365 and CRM Online for our internal use and to ramp up my knowledge for our clients. Microsoft has packed an enormous amount of IT capability from their platform into one monthly subscription. For just a few dollars you get Office components like Outlook for email, SharePoint for managing documents, and Lync for communications and meetings. If you don’t want to use the Office online apps, there is a subscription option that allows you to download the latest version of Office your PC.
In addition, you can now subscribe and administer Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online users from the same Office 365 administration portal. It is now much easier for businesses either to manage these products online themselves or if they rely on their Microsoft Partner, they can reduce the cost for their partners to manage it for them.
You can literally get all this up and running in a couple hours and then start configuring the applications for the businesses specific needs. I had Dynamics CRM Online, SharePoint Online, Outlook and Lync Online all talking to each other with little fuss, including accessing email and CRM accounts, contacts and a custom entity from my smart phone. It was not very long ago that this would have cost companies a fair bit in consulting time from various individuals or multiple partners. I am more of an ERP/CRM guy but was really surprised by how I could easily control and manage most aspects of Office 365 without the traditional IT support…cool!
Office 365 and CRM Online allows software partners like ourselves to build out an industry specific solution like FieldBoss and deploy right on top of this completely hosted platform. One scalable IT platform with business applications and mobility has always been a bit of a dream, not to mention significant IT pain and cost for businesses, particularly the smaller ones. Business owners like those in our field service market can now move virtually all of their IT infrastructure and complexity to the cloud, and benefit from the industry specific application they have typically had to go elsewhere for, all in one packaged offering. After 25 years of deploying ERP and CRM systems (and hearing promises from the big guys), I think we’re finally going to be able to let businesses focus on what they do best…running their own business.