The New Computer Age and the Enterprise
So, here’s the critical question – ‘Can I really save large amounts of cash swapping PCs and local networking for budget tablet computers and the cloud?’
Let’s face it reliable tablet devices can cost as little as £70 and printer/scanners can be had for as little as £40. That’s a low overhead and if you can get away with minimising expenditure to that level why doesn’t everyone jump on the bandwagon?
In fact that does appear to be the trend, - ‘Windows-based PCs have fallen from a 95% market share a decade ago to 90% today, according to Morningstar. That's thanks to the rise of mobile devices and software from competitors like Apple (AAPL, Tech30) and Google (GOOGL, Tech30).’ - http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/21/technology/microsoft-earnings/index.html
Computer experts and advisors will caution that any start-up business should factor in capacity for expansion, redundancy to cover equipment failure and a whole host of additional features, all of which add costs. And cost, as we know, have a habit of mounting up.
It’s that well intentioned cautionary advice that holds many back from taking full advantage of the latest in computerisation and making huge savings into the bargain.
What we can do here is examine a number of scenarios, comparing the latest innovations in business computing to the older more expensive options.
The enterprise approach.
Many large corporate entities have made successful enterprise wide migrations from internal LAN and WAN architecture to cloud or hybrid (part cloud, part LAN) architecture. However, such projects require massive effort in user training and data transfer. This often results in a good degree of business disruption. For this reason, I would recommend a ‘small steps’ approach, taking one function, or one department, at a time.
In this case we will take a sales back-office function employing 15 users whose job it is to manage the workflow of a large sales team in the field. This team all have desktop PCs and all are equipped with Office 2016.
The decisions on change of hardware and software will depend here on the corporate IT hardware purchasing and enterprise licencing that is in place.
There are many options to choose from regarding swapping out the hard ware for lower priced alternatives. Many PCs are supplied with huge amounts of local storage as standard and this resource is not used as files are stored on a network resource, Such PCs can be replaced by low cost tablets with solid state disk drive, connected to full sized monitor, keyboard and mouse. This lowers cost, desktop footprint and power consumption and also delivers improved reliability.
If the company enterprise licencing agreement delivers low cost Office 2016, it may be worthwhile purchasing a lower level of Office365 licence, moving down from E3 (£176.40 per user per annum) to E1 (£60 per user per annum). In addition, in many cases there will be workers who do not require the full functionality of Office 2016. In such instances Office 365 licencing can also be reduced from E3 to E1, or even Kiosk licence (£30 per user per annum).
E3 licencing delivers the full Office 2016 suite for up to five devices per user, where E1 licence and Kiosk licence deliver the functionality of Office on-line. This is a browser based version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note for the creation and editing of Office files.
Other constraints, such as access to and use of corporate business systems will influence the directions of hardware and software decisions for any team similar to this one.
Let us suppose then that the workflow for this team is to take sales leads, validate the leads with a telephone call, annotate the leads according to the result and forwards likely positives to the appropriate salesperson in the field.
Feedback from the field team to the back-office is added to the lead detail and processed into lead follow-up and, or sales order.
Using SharePoint on-line list in O365 really starts to come into its own in this scenario. The validated leads are imported into SharePoint lists which are owned by particular field sales staff. This means that immediately the data is validated it becomes a live lead and has an ‘action by’ date. Tasks, visible in SharePoint and in Outlook can also be automatically generated for the sales team and sales managers to ensure that individual leads are not lost or go beyond the ‘action by’ date. This type of work flow can be setup simply and easily in-house without the need for the purchase of further business systems.
The great thing about O365 cloud storage is that the data becomes available on all registered devices immediately it is saved on any one device.
The result is a net cash saving, increased working day productivity and, as a bonus, more free time
Security is also enhanced as data can be stored both on the device(s)and in the cloud. Nothing is lost in the event of loss or damage to any local device. Mobile Device Management can be used to ensure that data on lost or stolen devices cannot be accessed by anyone unauthorized
The Office 365 trend -
‘Office 365 First-quarter 2015: Consumer base reached 12.4 million.
First-quarter 2016: Sales of consumer products and cloud services climbed 6% and subscriber base grew to 22.2 million.
Office continues to be a steady driver of sales for Microsoft. In the past three months, Microsoft has benefited from growth in subscribers and higher sales for each Office 365 license.’ - http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/21/technology/microsoft-earnings/index.html
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Watkins provids help and support to a small number of businesses in the field of automated workflow. This is especially relevant for organisations wishing to utilise the full power of SharePoint online in O365.
Initial telephone consultation is free and we may construct one or more interactive test structures in O365 to ensure that we can provide a solution that is entirely relevant to your business.
Once engaged on solution development our work is delivered entirely remotely and is charged at £30 per hour. Full project quotations and timelines can be provided where required.
If you need a data flow solution external to O365, porting data from one business system to another for instance, please ask.
Bespoke services and consultancy for Office 365 solutions