New Solutions for Office 365
Microsoft announced for the coming months three new apps for Office 365 corporate customers, especially being of interest for small and midsize companies. With Microsoft Bookings, Microsoft Teams and Outlook Customer Manager, particularly the Office 365 Business Premium plan experiences a clear upward revaluation.
Microsoft Bookings is a software solution that simplifies planning and scheduling for service companies that still organize their numerous customer appointments via telephone and e-mail.
In a “self-service portal” that has been optimized for mobile devices, customers can request or schedule appointments on their own. Microsoft Bookings will e-mail a reminder about the agreed appointment, thus reducing the risk of being forgotten. The customer will be able to change the appointment in self-service, however, the company can define how much advance notice is required to be able to reschedule or cancel the appointment online.
At the moment, Microsoft Bookings is only available for participants in the “First Release Program”. However, a general availability for all Office 365 Business Premium subscribers is expected in the coming months and at no extra cost.
Microsoft Teams is a cloud based collaboration software in Office 365 that is using Skype for Business, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, OneNote, Planner, and PowerBi in order to provide a holistic platform for communication and teamwork. In addition, Microsoft Graph is helping to find relevant information. Open APIs, the same connector model as Office 365 groups, and support of the Microsoft Bot Framework allow companies to customize or extend Microsoft Teams according to their requirements.
With Microsoft Teams, companies should be supported, that already work in teams or projects with changing members, who are often separated from each other by distance and time. Teams will make it easier to share knowledge, search for experts, and to communicate with each other.
A customer preview of Microsoft Teams is available since last year’s November. A general availability for customers of Office 365 Enterprise or Business (Business Essentials and Business Premium Enterprise E1, E3, and E5) is expected for the first quarter of 2017.
Outlook Customer Manager
Outlook Customer Manager is an extension (add-in) for Microsoft Outlook that tracks all interactions with customers and records them in Office 365. Outlook Customer Manager gathers not only all customer-specific activities concerning e-mails and calendar, but it also identifies corresponding notes and documents from Office 365 applications and summarizes all customer activities in a timeline next to the inbox.
Outlook Customer Manager will not only reduce the efforts to manually manage data concerning customer relations but also - like any other comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system - allows enhanced team collaboration. For example, teams can share and edit contact information and activities.
A mobile client for Outlook Customer Manager is currently available for iOS devices only; versions for all other popular mobile devices are in preparation.
For the beginning, Outlook Customer Manager is part of the Office 365 Business Premium plan and exclusively reserved for the participants of the “First Release Program”. The general availability is expected for the first half of this year. It remains to be seen to whether this Outlook add-in will be also available to subscribers of Office 365 Enterprise plan E3 or E5.