Success stories

Our customers come in all shapes and sizes.

We work with organisations from all walks of life, with different ambitions and requirements. Explore how we’ve helped them reimagine everyday, and align technology with their culture and business goals.

How the Microsoft Productivity Score can boost productivity and collaboration

After over a year of working from home some employees cannot wait to get back to the office, whereas others find it easier to remain productive at home. Find out the productivity pros and cons, and how to boost productivity in our blog >
View case study >

What is a Microsoft Secure Score?

Microsoft Secure Score is a measurement of an organisation's security posture in the Microsoft 365 stack.
View case study >

Top cloud challenges for healthcare businesses

As healthcare businesses start to adopt the cloud at a startling rate, it’s becoming clear that there are significant hurdles when it comes to security. Our blog covers the skills gap, spiralling spending, increasing threats, and the route to combatting them both.
View case study >

The second digital transformation revolution

The second digital transformation revolution is here! What tools and strategies does your organisation need to be part of it?
View case study >

How cloud technologies can help charities stay resilient

Non-profits are faced with a difficult challenge: how do you stay secure and achieve resilience at the same time? The answer is Microsoft 365 >
View case study >

Choosing the right Microsoft 365 subscription for your non-profit

Microsoft 365 has six subscriptions offerings for non-profits, presenting affordable options to improve productivity. With that many options, how do you decide which plan is right for you? Our latest blog breaks down each of them to help you find your golden plan >
View case study >

Microsoft 365 is upping its security game

Thousands of new malware threat types are detected each year, but Microsoft 365’s Application Guard is providing innovative new ways to combat them. Find out how it can help your business in our blog post.
View case study >

How the Microsoft Productivity Score can boost productivity and collaboration

Most of the nation has now been working from home for over a year. As employees were forced to adjust to the new normal, initially the balance of home-schooling, baking bread, and constant online meetings was hard to manage. A year on, and many employees now prefer remote working. Not having to commute, and saving money, the extra time in the day, and being more productive are common reasons people want to continue working from home. When it comes to productivity, two thirds of workers claim they are more productive when WFH. 

Business leaders are currently in discussion as to what the future of the workplace looks like when restrictions ease. For some, this may be going back to the office 5 days a week, but many businesses are considering continuing to work remotely, or in a hybrid arrangement. Whatever your organisation decides is best, it is important to consider the productivity pros and cons for all working locations and how to quantify this productivity. 

Productivity pros and cons of working from home

One of the key productivity benefits of remote working is the lack of distractions. It is often easier to have a quiet space to remain focused, whereas in the office there are distractions from conversations with colleagues and the hustle and bustle of a busy office. Remote working also opens up the possibility of flexible work hours. If employers allow workers to start and finish when it suits them it means that employees can choose to work the hours they are most productive. Similarly, working remotely improves the work-life balance for many employees. With less time spent commuting it allows more time for activities with friends and family. This work-life balance improvement can also increase productivity through greater employee satisfaction and wellbeing.

A potential negative consequence of remote working is a lack of communication and collaboration within departments. When working in an office it is easy to approach a colleague to have a discussion or ask a question, whereas whilst many remote employees are forced to rely on emails, instant messaging and video calls which can be difficult to organise, leading to poor communication. Microsoft Teams has all the tools necessary for effective communication, but it is up to the individual employee to utilise these tools for communication and collaboration. 

Some employees also struggle with loneliness and staying motivated whilst remote working which can decrease productivity and employee wellbeing. When working from home it is important to maintain interaction within a team, both from a professional and social standpoint. There are also management concerns with remote working productivity. In an office space it is easier to physically observe productivity in a team, however this has previously been difficult to monitor when working remotely. Microsoft aims to solve this issue with their Microsoft Productivity Score.  

How does Microsoft Productivity Score work?

The Microsoft Productivity Score provides metrics, insights to help improve productivity and satisfaction, and recommended actions to use Microsoft 365 more effectively. These metrics, insights and recommendations are split into two areas: people experiences and technology experiences. 

  1. People experiences include content collaboration, mobility, communication, meetings, and teamwork. 
  2. Technology experiences show if the technology is being used to its full ability and the overall health of the organisation’s technology. 

For people experience data, you need a Microsoft 365 for Business subscription. For technology experiences, you require a Microsoft Intune subscription. The productivity score shows the your organisation’s score and compares it with peer benchmarks of similar sized organisations in a specific region. This data can then be used to track productivity over time and give recommendations to improve productivity, use of technology and employee satisfaction and wellbeing.

Is the Microsoft Productivity Score a workplace surveillance tool?

When the feature was launched in May 2020, Microsoft came into some criticism from privacy campaigners calling the Microsoft Productivity Score “full-fledged workplace surveillance tool”. Why the tool does allow admins to drill down on the activity of individual users, Microsoft assures critics that this is not the purpose of the score.

“We are committed to privacy as a fundamental element of productivity score,” wrote Jared Spataro, the corporate vice-president for Microsoft 365, in online documentation. “Let me be clear: productivity score is not a work monitoring tool. Productivity score is about discovering new ways of working, providing your people with great collaboration and technology experiences … For example, to help maintain privacy and trust, the user data provided in productivity score is aggregated over a 28-day period.”

Instead, IT teams can use the data to make the most of their technology investments by addressing common pain points like long boot times, inefficient document collaboration, or poor network connectivity; and to support user adoption.

Get the most out of Microsoft 365

For many employees remote working has been a positive experience with an increase in productivity and a better work-life balance. Regardless of whether businesses are planning to continue remote working or change to a hybrid arrangement when restrictions ease, it is important for employers to consider the difficulties of remote working and support employees to overcome these difficulties. 

A great place to start is by using Microsoft Productivity Score as it gives insights and recommendations to improve productivity and utilise Microsoft 365 apps to their full ability. If you want to find out more on how Microsoft Productivity Score can help with remote working productivity get in touch today!

Book a discovery call advert

What is a Microsoft Secure Score?

The Microsoft Secure Score helps admins benchmark the tenant security posture of their organisation within the Microsoft 365 stack. Secure Score, available in Azure AD, provides a user-friendly interface with technical steps to improve the score, with the tools they need to take advantage of Microsoft 365 intelligent security capabilities. 

The following key features form the basis of the Secure Score.

  • A graphical report on the current state of the organisation’s security posture.
  • Improve security posture by providing discoverability, visibility, guidance, and control.
  • Comparisons with other organisations to provide key performance indicators (KPIs).

How does Microsoft Secure Score work?

Points are allocated for the following actions:

  • Configuring recommended security features.
  • Completing security-related tasks.
  • Addressing the improvement action with a third-party application or software, or an alternate mitigation.

Some improvement actions only give points when fully completed. Some give partial points if they are completed for some devices or users. Recommendations are tailored according to the products that an organisation has licenses for. 

Secure Score Analysis

If you would like support understanding your organisation’s Secure Score and prioritising the recommendations, we provide can help. We offer a free Secure Score Analysis* to guide you through the process. Further details here >

*subject to availablity

Top cloud challenges for healthcare businesses

With lives and patient wellbeing potentially on the line, the healthcare industry has typically been cautious about new technology. Since the start of the Covid-19, pandemic, however, global healthcare providers have shown that they are more than ready to innovate quickly. 

According to a recent Trend Micro report, 88% of global healthcare organisations have accelerated their cloud adoption since the pandemic began. 47% of those said adoption has increased “considerably”, while 40% of healthcare IT leaders noted plans to make more applications cloud-native.

Unfortunately, though most would agree that this migration is positive, healthcare businesses face significant challenges when moving to cloud-based environments. One aspect that is especially difficult to solve is a shortage of skills. 43% of providers surveyed by Trend Micro said that skills gaps are a key challenge in migration to cloud security solutions. This and other inefficiencies have led to more capital expenses, with 43% spending more on contracted services and 39% on operational and training costs.

More concerning yet are the challenges the healthcare industry faces when it comes to vulnerability. Though the vast majority believe they are in control of their cloud security environment, far fewer are confident they understand their role in the shared cloud responsibility model. Many also admit to challenges protecting cloud workloads, particularly when it comes to policy management, patch management, and cloud misconfigurations.

Book a free cyber security health check to benchmark where you are now, and test your cloud security environment >

A route forward? While a lot of IT leaders already have plans to address these issues, further digital transformation using the cloud is one path forward. By further utilising cloud-based security tools, healthcare businesses can quickly improve security while reducing costs.

Ransomware is a security threat many healthcare providers will be familiar with. The WannaCry attack on the NHS in 2017 garnered global attention and cost it £92 million. However, while that variant has faded, other strains still pose a daily threat. The high value of patient records makes healthcare businesses a lucrative target for attackers.

So what cyber security services can protect your organisation and ensure you get all the benefits of the cloud?

Cyber backup solutions

Cyber backup solutions can help significantly with such threats. As well as reliable backup and recovery services, some solutions now integrate cybersecurity, data protection, and simple security management tools.

AI-based behavioural detection can also be very beneficial when it comes to zero-day attacks, catching and preventing them without the need for manual intervention. These tools can be fully integrated with the provider’s backup solutions, using backup data to improve detection rates, automatically recovering corrupt or locked data, and ensuring backup files are clean.

For healthcare providers, the ability to lean on these automated tools can prove invaluable. As well as reducing the total cost of ownership, they free up your IT team to focus on more active security and patch management, aided by a single, intuitive interface. 

Microsoft 365

Another big name in cloud-based security is Microsoft. In healthcare, Microsoft 365 can both empower clinicians to be more productive and improve security and compliance. Through tight integrations with Windows 10 Enterprise and Office 365, it looks to protect all aspects of a business. 

Healthcare providers can, for example, get a real-time overview of their compliance posture and use of AI to help them meet HIPAA/HITRUST standards. Meanwhile, Microsoft 365’s Advanced Threat Protection combats malicious emails, integrates AI-driven cloud app security, and automatically detects advanced endpoint threats.

If you’d like to explore Microsoft 365 and other solutions to protect your cloud IT environment, please get in touch. We can help you identify the right solutions for your organisation, and deploy and manage them in a cost-efficient way.

The second digital transformation revolution

Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Vice President for Modern Work, recently told The New Yorker that the Covid 19 pandemic has created the right conditions for a ‘second digital transformation’.

The first revolution, driven by the PC, digitised paperwork and emptied filing cabinets into servers. Physical location was still important as computing technology was local, on-premise. Since then, cloud computing has emerged and in recent years adoption has accelerated rapidly, laying the foundations for this second revolution – the digital workplace.

Digital transformation in 2021 is all about Work from Anywhere (WFA), especially for information workers. Flexible work is here to stay, with the predominant trend being ‘hybrid work’ where employees yo-yo between office and remote working. In its Work Trend Index research, Microsoft found that 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue (post-pandemic), while over 65% need more in-person time with their teams. In response, 66% of business decision makers say they are exploring redesigning physical spaces to accommodate hybrid work models.

Digital transformation in 2021 is people-centric

A key difference in this second digital transformation revolution is that the focus is on people. It’s about the employee experience and engagement: enabling seamless transitions between office and home, ensuring an equal experience wherever someone is working, creating innovative collaborative spaces (blending virtual and physical) and using data to monitor work patterns, employee wellbeing and performance.

So, if your business or organisation is going to be part of this digital transformation revolution, what tools do you need?

Your digital transformation toolkit

The basics

Microsoft’s Work Trend research uncovered an anomaly, “Even after a year of working from home, 42% of employees say they lack essential office supplies at home, and one in 10 don’t have an adequate internet connection to do their job. Yet, over 46% say their employer does not help them with remote work expenses.”

While technology barriers were frustrating during the first lockdown and ‘stay at home’ directive, everyone was in the same boat. Now, as employees transition to hybrid work, there is a danger of inequalities developing between those working remotely and those working in the office.

Ensuring everyone has the right technology to work from anywhere, promotes digital equality. Desktop virtualisation, broadband support and high-quality audio-visual technology help to level the playing field and support seamless transitions between the physical and virtual workplace.

High performing laptops and tablets are also a vital part of an employee’s hybrid work toolkit. In 2020 many people ‘put up’ with their home PCs and devices, often sharing these resources with other family members, and struggling to work on devices that weren’t designed for corporate use. Long term, if employees are expected to work from home for part of the week, they need corporate devices.

Device as a Service has thrown companies a lifeline, turning what was traditionally a CapEx investment into OpEx. Solutions, such as Surface as a Service, provision employees with corporate devices and accessories for a fixed monthly fee. Add ons, like IT support, can also be part of the package. Learn more here >

Workplace technology

To enable a seamless transition between remote work and the physical office, cloud apps like Microsoft Teams come into their own. We’re now all familiar with integrated tools for file sharing, instant messaging, time and project management, online meetings and calls.

Other technology to support hybrid work includes e-signatures so employees don’t have to be in a physical space to sign, or have documents signed. And to ensure that employees and guests can access and use physical workspaces safely, we need room and desk booking technology, visitor management apps and virtual scheduling tools.

Collaborative technology

Creating the right virtual and blended environments for collaboration is a significant challenge. Face-to-face contact – whether it’s a brainstorming session in a meeting room or a quick chat in the breakout area – promotes collaboration. We need to provide employees with opportunities to collaborate wherever they are, and make sure that people not in the physical office space are included.

Good quality audio-visual tech is a must. Remote workers joining a meeting online need an equal experience to those in the room. This involves provisioning meeting and conference rooms with the right equipment, and providing individuals with high quality webcams, microphones and headphones. Is it fair for a remote sales person, who needs to hit their target every month, to conduct online prospect meetings using their phone earbuds and camera when their colleagues working in the office have access to state-of-the-art audio-visual tech?

Digital whiteboards also help ensure individuals are not excluded when working from home. These capture everything on the whiteboard which can then be sent to remote workers. Even better are real time tools like Microsoft Whiteboard, which integrates with Teams meetings. This means that meeting participants can collaborate on the same whiteboard. A useful feature, Ink Grab, can also convert physical images like photos of notes or a physical whiteboard, into a vector-type image on the virtual whiteboard.

Other technology to promote impromptu collaborative moments includes ‘always on’ screens positioned in shared spaces which allow team members to see who’s in the space and chat to them. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools could also play a role in the hybrid workplace. Think of how game developers use the technology to provide immersive experiences for gamers and apply it to a meeting scenario or brainstorming session.

The use of your company Intranet also becomes important to help employees collaborate. Simple ideas like a skills directory hosted on your Intranet, join up distributed teams and individuals. Our own experience, at Cloud Business, has highlighted the importance of this. Our acquisition of another technology company in late 2019 meant that when the pandemic hit we were still in the process of integrating our teams. Coupled with a recruitment drive during 2020 we now have many employees who have never met their immediate colleagues in person, and certainly not the wider team.

Skills directories allow employees to identify the people they need to collaborate with and make connections that would normally occur naturally in an office environment.

Business intelligence

There are three trends identified by Microsoft that point to the need for more meaningful insights to support decision making, employee engagement and wellbeing, and improve performance. They are:

  1. Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call – in general, business leaders have thrived during lockdown compared to many of their employees who have struggled.
  2. High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce – in a global survey, one in five respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance, 54% feel overworked and 39% feel exhausted.
  3. Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energised – 60% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 in the workforce say they are “merely surviving or flat-out struggling”.

Fortunately, most organisations already have the data needed to identify, monitor and manage problems with employee engagement, stress and overwhelm, performance and productivity. As the stats below show, data can be easily accessed from the workplace technology you deploy. Creating user-friendly dashboards for leaders and managers is an effective way of providing them with the real picture of how the workforce is doing.

Microsoft compared collaboration trends in Microsoft 365 between February 2020 and February 2021. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings has more than doubled (2.5X) globally.
  • The average meeting is 10 minutes longer, increasing from 35 to 45 minutes.
  • The average Teams user is sends 45% more chats per week and 42% more chats per person after hours, with chats per week still increasing.
  • The number of emails delivered to commercial and education customers via Microsoft Exchange Online in February, when compared to the same month last year, is up by 40.6 billion.
  • Microsoft has seen a 66% increase in the number of people working on documents.

Data can also be used to monitor working patterns and ensure employees have the right technology, and environment, to perform at their best. Then other tools can be deployed to help nudge employees into better working patterns or behaviour, tackling both wellbeing and performance issues.

Putting people at the heart of digital transformation

As IT professionals and business leaders you hold the keys to many of the tools to create the right environment for a successful (second) digital transformation. However, in our view, being led by the technology is the not right approach.

Instead focus on your people. Find out how they’re doing, what they need, what hybrid work looks like for them, who they need to collaborate with, and how they need to use physical and remote spaces. As stated above, you probably already have the data needed to take a temperature check of where your organisation and people are today. Combine this with research, surveys and polls to map out what technology your people need to thrive going forward.

If you need help doing this, we’d be delighted to share our expertise. We’ve been spearheading flexible work strategies for many years and can help you develop a roadmap to navigate our current digital transformation revolution. Please get in touch if you’d like an informal chat >

Book a discovery call advert

How cloud technologies can help charities stay resilient

The role that not-for-profit businesses play in society has evolved significantly over the years. In the past decade, the number of charities in the UK & Ireland has grown by 10,000, with many of the newer ones looking to fill gaps in the countries’ mental health and social support systems.

Unfortunately, the level of public trust in charities has not seen a similar rise. A 2018 study by the Charity Commission found that 45% of respondents reported a decrease in trust. Four years prior, and before several high-profile scandals, that number was at 18%.

It’s clear, then, that charities are under intense pressure to manage resources efficiently, keep donations and data secure, as well as continue to lead real, demonstratable change.

With the rise in security breaches brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, non-profits are in an even more vulnerable position. With low levels of resource and flexible budget, it’s hard to keep data secure. And, as the country continue to work remotely, it hard to keep volunteers and employees engaged. The lack of in-person meetings and work has decreased morale and charities can often find it trickier to motivate staff in the same way as commercial businesses can.

Find out what Young Epilepsy’s Head of IT has to say about working with Cloud Business >

Can Microsoft 365 offer charities a solution to their challenges?

To address these problems, some charities are undergoing digital transformation and implementing new software solutions. By now, many will be very familiar with Microsoft’s Office suite, which provides a vital set of document tools in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Fewer, however, are aware of the improvements to cost, security, and flexibility that a Microsoft 365 subscription can offer non-profits. Microsoft’s cloud solutions can reduce reliance on buildings and office spaces, and act as the first step towards a more agile work environment.

Non-profits can extract particular value from four specific Microsoft 365 offerings:

  • Microsoft Teams

By now, many people across the world will have heard of Microsoft Teams. For non-profit organisations, it offers the ability to seamlessly replace in-person meetings with virtual ones while acting as a hub for secure file sharing, chat, and collaboration.

Teams offers co-workers ample opportunities to stay connected, as well as enabling companies to host virtual cross-company events to boost company culture. It also allows charities to reach out those in need via video chat to provide continued support.

No matter where employees are working, Microsoft Teams helps to mitigate productivity losses. Those using Microsoft 365 will find that Teams integrates automatically with their existing Office 365 apps. Outlook will automatically populate with appointments made on Teams, for example, and lets workers reply to missed message straight from their inbox. This, combined with the natural benefits of a communications hub, helps charities react more quickly to developing crises.

  • SharePoint

SharePoint has been a mainstay in businesses for years, but with the shift to remote working many charities are now realising its appeal. The cloud-based file sharing and collaboration solution provides increased capacity for remote working without excessive costs.

Through SharePoint, non-profits can provide their workers with real-time document collaboration and storage without compromising security.

  • Outlook

Email is a core part of any non-profit business, but Microsoft 365’s Outlook offers much more than that. As well as being an excellent way to communicate, it provides essential planning and task management functionality.

Outlook Calendar helps charity workers stay on top of their obligations despite the lack of co-workers to provide in-person reminders. Microsoft To-Do integration, meanwhile, lets them review their tasks without leaving the email client.

  • Enterprise-grade security

Microsoft 365 also offers best-in-class security, designed to successfully address the growing volume of cyberattacks charities face. Microsoft 365 Business Premium, free for charities for up to 10 users, provides conditional access functionality to automatically prevent logins from unexpected networks, devices, and locations. Microsoft security features also include AI guarding against phishing and ransomware attacks that could compromise a donation pool or lead to leaks of personally identifying information.

Of course, while these features aid many of the problem’s charities face, budgetary constraints must also be considered. One of the largest advantages of Microsoft 365 for non-profits is the flexible and discounted pricing model. Microsoft 365 Business premium comes at no cost for 10 users and is just $5 per month for each one thereafter.

To explore different 365 subscriptions and understand which plan is right for your non-profit, read this blog post that explains the cost and what’s included in each plan >

It’s been a hard year for non-profits, but the productivity and security benefits that Microsoft 365 can offer can help charities greatly improve their resilience.

Book a discovery call advert

Choosing the right Microsoft 365 subscription for your non-profit

As software companies look to penetrate new markets, the breadth of solutions targeted at non-profits has increased substantially. Aware that charities face a high degree of budgetary scrutiny, software providers offer generous pricing models and customisations to suit non-profit organisations. When combined with government funding that is increasingly available, now is a great time to adopt technologies to enhance productivity.

Microsoft 365 is a key solution that non-profits are embracing. With the shift to remote work, organisations are seeing large communication improvements thanks to Microsoft’s suite. With tools like Microsoft Teams offering real-time, remote collaboration, non-profit employees are able to easily plan fundraising efforts, hold virtual meetings, and host live informational events.

Microsoft makes this possible through numerous charity-specific SKUs designed to improve operations and IT. However, in this lies a conundrum: how do you choose the right 365 subscription plan for your organisation when there are so many available?

Book a discovery call with one of our 365 experts, and we’ll take you through the options available >

365 subscriptions explained

First and foremost, choosing the right Microsoft 365 subscription requires an understanding of the benefits they provide. Only then, and with a deep understanding of your organisation’s needs, can you ensure your budget is spent in the best way.

Microsoft Business Basic, Standard, E3, and E5

The first thing to know is that Microsoft’s non-profit subscriptions, like its enterprise offerings, are tiered. As you’d expect, each jump in price offers access to more apps and features, with some key differences to be aware of.

For many small non-profits, the free Microsoft 365 Business Basic offering will be attractive. Charities who meet the requirements will gain access to Exchange email services, 1 TB of OneDrive storage, and video and chat services via Microsoft Teams.

It’s worth noting, however, that the Business Basic plan does not provide access to Microsoft’s suite of productivity apps, Office 365. Non-profits won’t be able to take full advantage of the real-time collaboration SharePoint offers, nor will they gain access to the powerful productivity features of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. This is primarily for organisations with workers who are primarily frontline, or those who have an existing productivity solution in place.

For those who do need the apps within Office 365, a paid subscription is the only option. All paid non-profit subscriptions include the suite, with the cheapest being Business Standard, which additionally provides the services of Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams from the basic tier. At £2.30 per user/month, it’s a no-brainer for most non-profits with under 300 employees.

Larger non-profits will need to consider an Office 365 enterprise plan to get past that 300-user limit. Office 365 E1 is the free tier, providing the same services as the Business Basic Plan, but for unlimited users and with additional compliance and auditing tools. E1 users can run virtual meetings for up to 10,000 participants and access 50GB per user of business-class email, calendar, and contacts storage.

Microsoft 365 E3 comprises the same apps and services as the Business Standard plan but comes with some notable additions. As well as removing the 300-person limit, it bundles in 100GB per user of email storage, additional OneNote features, and unlimited personal cloud storage. It also provides IT departments with apps to manage software and information while providing data loss and rights management tools for email. Finally, organisations can make use of self-service business intelligence to visualise and analyse data with Excel. This all comes in at a respectable £4 per user/month rather than the £17.60 a commercial business pays.

Finally, there’s Microsoft 365 E5. It’s more than double the price of E3, and that’s because it ties in a ton of extra functionality. As well as everything from the previous tiers, it throws in various analytics tools to power data-driven decision making. eDiscovery enables predictive text and coding analytics, while Power BI and Microsoft MyAnalytics provide personal and organisational insights.

This alone makes E5 a wise choice for large non-profits, but it also brings significant upgrades to a company’s communications and security infrastructure. For £12.30 per employee/month, organisations can:

  • Join audio conferences in Microsoft Teams via landline or mobile phone
  • Make use of a cloud-based call management system to make, transfer, and receive calls from a wide range of devices.
  • Be better protected via Microsoft’s advanced security offering, which automatically protects against zero-day malware and virus threats while better safeguarding messaging systems.

Microsoft 365 has a plan for any type of non-profit, and we’ve covered the basics of them in this blog to help you understand what’s available. If you’re still not sure what subscription plan is right for your business, give us a call. We’ll give you a detailed rundown of which is best suited to your non-profit and how you can get the most for your budget.

Book a discovery call advert

Microsoft 365 is upping its security game

The IT security landscape is ever evolving. According to a 2020 SonicWall cyber report, hundreds of thousands of unique malware strains are found each year, many of them bringing new techniques and vulnerabilities. To meet these growing threats, security solutions must evolve: which is exactly what Microsoft is doing with its 365 platform.

Throughout 2020, Microsoft released new features into its flagship offering that address the growing threat cybercriminals pose to businesses. In September, OneDrive SSO with Microsoft 365 reached general availability, followed shortly by new email forwarding controls to reduce the capabilities of spearphishers. In November, it launched Microsoft Information Protection worldwide, helping admins discover, classify, and protect sensitive data.

Is your Microsoft 365 environment secure? Our free cyber security health check will help you protect your business by ensuring the right tools are deployed. Find out more here >

Microsoft 365 Application Guard

This year, however, the suite has reached a more vital milestone: the general availability of Application Guard for Office. For those unfamiliar to the term, Application Guard protects users from files that may be unsafe by opening them in a sandbox. Secure containers provided by Hyper-V means that any attempts at file modification don’t leave the isolated environment.

Building on its history of integration, Microsoft 365 Application Guard is informed by and shares data with other security products in the suite. Working in conjunction with Safe Documents and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, it’s able to scan a file for malicious behaviour and open it in a container if it poses a threat.

For businesses, this means passive protection against data and credential theft on any type of device. Application Guard extends to PC, Mac, mobile devices, and tablets, whether they’re company-owned or personal devices.

By replacing Office’s “Protected View”, Application Guard can also increase productivity without sacrificing security. Rather than prevent editing on documents from unknown sources, it lets users safely read, edit, print and save. This can, in turn, reduce the burden of IT departments by ensuring they don’t need to manually check and approve flagged files.

Proactive security

While Application Guard acts as an essential protection tool, Microsoft is also utilising it to improve its general threat intelligence capabilities. According to Senior Program Manager Emil Karafezov, each document Application Guard isolates also helps improves the tool itself:

“When a user does encounter a malicious document, it is safely isolated within Application Guard,” said Emil in his latest blog post. “Every malicious attack contained by Application Guard improves our threat intelligence, which enhances our detections and ability to protect your organisation and all of our customers.”

These continuous improvements and developments over the past year demonstrates Microsoft’s ability to stay agile, flexible, and innovative, despite its size. By ensuring solutions are built to continually improve, Microsoft demonstrates its commitment to protecting users in the long-term. With new threats emerging daily, the constant and natural evolution of its tools will offer huge benefits to companies of all shapes and sizes.

To make proper use of these innovative features, however, businesses must understand how those available within their Microsoft 365 licence work. If you’d like to learn how you can use the platform to remain protected despite the risks of home working, get in touch with us today.

Cloud Business Logo - white
Microsoft Gold Partner Logo - Cloud Business

Cloud Business Limited
8 North Street

Microsoft Gold Partner Logo - Cloud Business

2023 © Cloud Business Limited
Registered Company in England and Wales 06798438