Office 365: Skype For Business, Analytics, Security Updates - InformationWeek
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11/30/2015
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Office 365: Skype For Business, Analytics, Security Updates

Microsoft is launching several enterprise additions to Office 365, including Skype for Business services and new features for security and analytics.

Office 2016: 8 Enterprise-Worthy Features
Office 2016: 8 Enterprise-Worthy Features
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Microsoft is rolling out a series of enterprise capabilities for Office 365, including new collaboration, security, and analytics tools. Starting today, customers can purchase Office 365 E5, a new enterprise suite offering that includes additional features across Skype for Business, analytics and security.

The Office 365 E5 suite costs $35 per user per month, or $420 for the year.

Collaboration is a priority with this update, which expands the communications services in Office 365 to include an enterprise phone system, dial tone, and PSTN audio and video conferencing.

Among consumers, Skype is often used as synonymous with video chats, explained Zig Serafin, CVP of Skype for Business, in a phone briefing with InformationWeek. Business communications have lagged in comparison, which prompted Microsoft to bring Skype capabilities to Office 365.

[ Microsoft releases new diversity numbers, and they do not impress. ]

Now that it can be used for meetings, video chats, calling, and information sharing, Microsoft's cloud-based productivity suite is giving businesses the option to replace their phone and meeting systems with a single service. It has the potential to significantly simplify infrastructure and cut hefty costs associated with multiple phone and conferencing systems.

PSTN Conferencing and PSTN Calling, two services now generally available in Office 365, enable users to join meetings and make calls from their desktop phones, PCs, or mobile devices. Users' numbers run through Microsoft via Skype for Business to make the connection, an ability that could cut costs for businesses using traditional video conferencing services.

PSTN Conferencing and PSTN Calling will be available in 15 countries on Dec. 1. Both will roll out to international markets in 2016.

On a larger scale, Skype for Meeting Broadcast (available worldwide Dec. 1) supports virtual meetings of up to 10,000 participants, who can join from nearly any browser or device, said Serafin. It's worth noting this feature is built into Skype for Business and not a separate feature.

Also available is Cloud PBX, which allows companies to get rid of antiquated PBX systems and move to the cloud. Office 365 now serves as a central location to manage all call routing functionality in Skype for Business. Cloud PBX will be globally available starting Dec. 1.

"People spend nearly a third of their time at work in meetings, yet only 18% of information workers actively use conference tools that enable rich experiences like video and content sharing," wrote Serafin in a blog post.

Nonverbal signals account for almost 90% of the messages we receive during interpersonal communications, he continued, which indicates improved communication tools can have a marked difference on productivity.

We first saw the Skype for Business voice and meeting tools within Office 365 when the service debuted in July. Microsoft expanded the preview in October to add new features and support a greater amount of countries.

During the months it was in preview, more than 4,000 organizations tested Skype for Business within Office 365. Microsoft tested the service among 30,000 employees internally and is on track for a company-wide rollout.

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

The latest updates to Office 365 also include new analytics and security capabilities, which are generally available Dec. 1.

Subscribers now have access to Delve Analytics, which displays dashboards to provide insights on connections among employees and teams. Managers can see which teams have most frequent interactions and determine where greater communication is needed.

Office 365 now includes business analytics service Power BI, which enables greater understanding of information through dashboards, data visualizations, and interactive reports. Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery capabilities help manage large quantities of data with machine learning and text analytics.

A security boost comes from Customer Lockbox, which gives customers new transparency, approval rights, and data control in the cloud. Advanced Threat Protection leverages behavioral analysis to shield against unknown viruses and malware.

**New deadline of Dec. 18, 2015** Be a part of the prestigious InformationWeek Elite 100! Time is running out to submit your company's application by Dec. 18, 2015. Go to our 2016 registration page: InformationWeek's Elite 100 list for 2016.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 3:21:52 PM
Office 365
"Subscribers now have access to Delve Analytics, which displays dashboards to provide insights on connections among employees and teams. Managers can see which teams have most frequent interactions and determine where greater communication is needed."


@I think this shoiuld be a very useful feature to have and would make it a whole lot easier to understand where the usage is coming from and what's the nature of usage. Appropriate action can then be taken easily.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 2:17:13 PM
Re: One stop shop
@tzubair,

Thank you for you comment, and I agree, and it's great to see Microsoft rebranding/re-launching these services under one package
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 1:44:44 PM
Re: One stop shop
"Today we have to use a combination of tools to have an effective collaboration session (video, screen sharing, VTC, etc), so I think this just makes life much much simpler"

@mejiac: I think the services that Microsoft is offering had already existed under different umbrelllas (Exchange, Lync etc). What Office 365 is trying to do is bringing all of the services under one brand to create more synergies. Should be interesting to see how the market responds to this.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 10:17:01 AM
One stop shop
Great Article!

I think Microsoft has done a superb job at making Office 365 a lot more robust regarding collaboration. Many companies have opted to migrated to Office 365 and get away from having to manage and maintaing there own hardware (exchange server). I think that by having office 365 be the default tool for collaboratin is heading down the right path.

Today we have to use a combination of tools to have an effective collaboration session (video, screen sharing, VTC, etc), so I think this just makes life much much simpler
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