Interview with our CTO: Happy Birthday Office 365

As of June 28th, 2019, Office 365 is officially 8 years old - Happy Birthday! We wanted to take this moment to reflect on how much the product and business environments in general have changed over the past 8 years. Who better to sit down and discuss this with than our CTO, Justin Short? With over 2 decades of experience with Microsoft offerings to his name, we were definitely interested in what he had to say!

Do you remember what you thought of Office 365 when it was first released?

So, when Office 365 was first released it was a new iteration of BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services), a Microsoft suite of hosted applications. The biggest and most exciting change was that whilst BPOS hosted Exchange and SharePoint, Office 365, for the first time, was offering the Office Desktop apps as a service. This meant users had access to the latest versions of these applications and everyone was working on aligned versions of the software. I remember a lot of excitement surrounding the fact that every user could use Office on up to 5 devices.

How much impact do you think Office 365 has on a business?

When it launched, it was great to see the benefits of having hosted applications, but I don't think there were many indicators that it was going to become as high-impact as it is has done. With today's rapid transition to cloud technology, it's hard to imagine a business not having Office 365 as part of their digital strategy. The biggest impact I think Office 365 has made is within the start-up and SME space, these smaller companies can use Office 365 and they have access to Enterprise class applications that massively help them to compete and grow and establish themselves.

Do you think organisations make the most of their Office 365 subscriptions?

No, I don't think so. For many I think the foundation of their move is to get their emails and files across to the cloud- which is a critical first step to successful deployment! But that's just the tip of the iceberg of the Office 365 suite capability. There are tools to help you communicate and collaborate, tools to help you automate, help your security, business data and apps. These allow users to use Office 365 across a wide range of scenarios, which is one of the reasons why it has become such a strategic part of a Digital Transformation journey.

What's your favourite Office 365 app at the moment?

Ooh, at the moment? Probably Teams. Teams is a bit of new comer but it works brilliantly to bring together threads. Teams enables seamless communication and collaboration for individuals, teams and projects. It also allows us to collaborate externally with customers and suppliers in a way we haven't before. Plus it looks great and they've just added cool emojis I can send!

What do you think Office 365 will look like in another 8 years time?

That's an interesting question. At the moment Microsoft are launching mixed reality interfaces and investing in AI (Artificial Intelligence) and immersive experiences, mostly to enhance collaborative functions in the platform. I think this will definitely lead the direction of the future interface of Office 365. For example, we're starting to see immersive experiences in 3D models, a new starter could walk around your office in 360 degrees without even being there or a student could navigate a campus, using 3D maps to open files, and rummage through folders around them. Outside of that, I think the platform is going to be easily accessed on desktops, mobile and mixed reality devices.

Finally, just a bit of fun, what was your favourite thing to do when you were 8?

Wow. Let me think. I mean, Lego. I loved Lego. I loved to build cities, especially big fire stations, with helipads. I also loved music, I was a bit of a music geek, really; I spent a lot of my childhood practicing my French horn.

From building lego cities to building business solutions. Thank you Justin for your time and expertise and many happy returns to the birthday platform - Office 365!

Synergi are an award-winning, highly experienced cloud technology specialist. We are Microsoft Gold Partners for Cloud Productivity and we are one of only a handful of tech partners in the UK to achieve the Premier partner status for Valo and Nintex. Our expertise, innovative thinking and in-depth knowledge of Office 365, SharePoint, Nintex, Azure, Valo and Dynamics 365 means finding the best solution to improve business operations is guaranteed. In partnership with our customers, we help empower employees through communication and collaboration, drive greater efficiency and productivity through workflow and process automation and provide insight through business intelligence and real-time analytics.