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While 2019 has been all about upgrading and replacing old technologies – working with clients to get rid of Microsoft products like Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and SQL 2008 before they reach End of Life in January – 2020 will very much be about new technologies.
It’s genuinely exciting (ok, maybe exciting is the wrong word if you aren’t a tech) that there are some key new Microsoft products to embrace and I’m convinced that 2020 will see businesses of all sizes embrace these to improve their productivity, flexibility and security. So here are my three predictions of the top technologies you should be using in 2020:
My first prediction is an easy one because it’s already happening (well, has happened!) Microsoft Teams is a product that Microsoft are convinced will be their “next Windows” – their next flagship product that dominates global computing and becomes a go-to product in the same way Windows is to computers, Outlook is to email and Word is to desktop publishing. We absolutely love Teams here at Systemagic and everyone we demonstrate it to can immediately see how it would fit in their business. Along with real-time chat-based communication, it allows quick and simple file sharing, video and audio conferencing, group collaboration and integrates with all your other Microsoft applications like email, SharePoint and even lesser known packages like ToDo and Yammer. It’s also included in your Office 365 subscription so for most people it can be adopted at no extra cost.
Allowing simple and effective team communication is vital when so many of us now work flexibly – Teams works on any device including tablets, mobiles and even televisions with a compatible web browser! If your business is embracing flexible working or perhaps doesn’t even have a central office location then Teams is a brilliant tool and makes managing a business with a distributed team a breeze.
Another string to the Teams bow is Phone System, or Business Voice, or Teams Phone System depending on who in Microsoft you speak to. Same product, currently many different names! Microsoft announced in November that their phone system is now available to users on Office 365 Business packages rather than just the Enterprise level packages as before – therefore opening it up to small and medium sized businesses without a big price tag attached. We’ve supported clients using Microsoft as their phone system for 18 months now and while the early service needed lots of development it’s now a fully functioning business telephone system, at a very competitive price, that introduces yet more flexibility and option in to your business. We’ll be moving our own phones to this system in 2020 and I expect this to be a huge area of growth.
First of all, it removes my constant bugbear about traditional phone systems – long term contracts. How can you commit to a certain price and package for 3, 5 or even 7 years when technology is changing so fast? Microsoft’s solution puts each user on 30 day terms and no ongoing contract – which as most clients will know has been my passion for the last 20 years. Aside from the commercial terms though, Microsoft’s phone system turns your computer, laptop, tablet, mobile phone or traditional VoIP telephone handset in to a fully functioning business phone system – allowing your users to work from any device and any location as if they were at their desk. I’ll be able to sit myself on my iPad in a coffee shop and the team can transfer calls through to me from the main office. Or log in from my laptop in a client’s meeting room work as if I was sat at my desk back at base. Or use my home computer for both data and phone when it’s snowed and I can’t out of the village. For our flexible workers, they will no longer need an extra phone handset at home or to remember to take their VoIP handset with them the night before.
The cost is attractive too – with telephone calls included like a mobile phone contract, immediately I can see how our clients will be able to save money compared to their traditional business phone contracts. It’s very clever and as with Teams, when people see it in action they always want it for their business too.
My final prediction is one that will no doubt confuse a lot of people – it’s the Microsoft 365 Business package. Not to be confused with Microsoft Office 365 – why they chose such a similar name I really don’t know. Microsoft 365 is a package that allows businesses to operate without an old fashioned server but benefit form the same security, user account control, centralised management and services that they’d expect. Roughly £5 more per month than Office 365, Microsoft 365 gives you a more secure version of Windows 10, it allows users to log on securely without connecting to a server, it means we can centrally manage the devices – adding printers, security policies, installing software, and it also gives you all the bits of Office 365 like the Office software suite, email, Teams, SharePoint, Planner and more. With so many businesses moving to flexible working and internal servers being so old hat now, this package is perfect for making sure you have a business-grade secure, manageable and productive IT system without a massive up front investment in a server. It means every user has the same software version, the same security and the same functionality – managed remotely no matter where they work.
Our series of seminars, demos and workshops kicks off in January and I can’t wait to show you some of the new tools – many of them available at no extra cost – that will become essential in the future. We’ll be looking at Teams, Planner, ToDo, Phone System, SharePoint and Microsoft 365. Keep your eyes peeled for our seminar invitations – if you’d like to get ahead then do email Becky (firstname.lastname@example.org) to stick your name down on the “interested” list. We’re also happy to do individual demos so if an early morning round-table isn’t your thing then do give us a shout and we’ll arrange a demo at a convenient time.