e5 Workflow

Built for Business

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MAR
11
2016

e5 Travel Insurance Solution for Cover-More

Case Study – Cover-More

Country/Region – Australia, New Zealand, UK, China and India.
Industry – Travel insurance
Year of Engagement with e5 Workflow Inc. – 2009

 

Client Profile

Cover-More has been caring for the health, safety and wellbeing of Australian travellers since 1986. Travel insurance and emergency assistance are our speciality and sole focus. Helping Australians in their time of need through expert repatriation and aeromedical provision, as well as providing peace of mind and reassurance for even the most basic travel hiccup is what we do, every day.

The staggering numbers speak for themselves as more than 2.2 million customers signed up for travel insurance in 2015, the company handled more than 400,000 assistance calls and managed evacuations for about 400 travellers.

Cover-More has a strong focus on customer service and support to customers around the world and we are proud of this service.

 

Business Situation

Before shifting to e5 Workflow, the claims team at Cover-More was using paper based claim files where all documentation related to a claim was centralised into a single paper folder. One major issue with this system was the necessity of having to attach hard copies of all client correspondence (emails {both in and outbound} and additional information received) to the paper file.

In addition, all claims related notes entered into the core claims system had to be ‘repeat’ hand written into the claim file. Payment signatories and audits were all done by combing through a physical file.

 

Issues faced by Cover-More

We spoke with Graeme Stemmett, Technical Operations Manager Australia & Asia at Cover-More to gain more knowledge about the initial issues faced by the company. He said

“Previous processes were out-dated and inefficient. There were also cost factors such as printing and off-site storage expenses. On top of that there was also a large environmental cost of using so much paper. When dealing with thousands of claim files, it was a problem trying to correctly track and locate files. We were unable to maintain a consistent order of receipt of documentation if it was not chronologically sorted in the paper files and different assessment styles would often result in documents being placed back into the file in different order”.

 

How Cover-More tried to tackle before coming to e5?

The Cover-More team tried to manage the situation by tweaking the filing and tracking system, but it was never a permanent solution given the large volumes of claims being worked on and stored in the office. Storing all the vital information on paper for internal and external auditing was a huge task and the risk involved had to be dealt with – then e5 stepped in.

e5 Workflow Inc. worked on version 2.0 which covered only Australia and recently version 3.0 was compiled and has been used by Cover-More for more than a month now. The goal of version 3.0 upgrade was to make a streamlined system for all regions. In a short span of 8 months e5 Workflow managed to hand over the upgraded version without any issues.

All this was possible due to the dedication and channelled hard work of the combined team. The V3 upgrade included updated and newly created taxonomies as well as a critical data migration piece. It was of utmost importance to migrate old work items to the new system to ensure business continuity in one version of the application.

 

Benefits of e5 Workflow’s solution? 

  • Effectiveness: No more duplication of work which leads to a faster claims turn around.
  • Cost reduction: Reduction in printing, storage and document retrieval costs
  • Efficiency: The process flows introduced a ‘forced’ consistency in claims assessment, benefiting the business and customers. Case officers as well as other claims support staff, could more easily navigate to and chronologically through the claim
  • Accessibility of ALL information: A call centre agent can now see all information (including notes) on a claim now that it’s in e5, as opposed to no information when the claim was paper based which lead to better customer service
  • Security: Better business continuity in the event of a disaster where our claims data isn’t at risk of physically perishing (all e5 data backed up to an external site). Impossible for a file to be misplaced
  • Centralisation: all documents related to a claim could now be found in one place. In addition, the history and vital notes are also centralised and always legible
  • Flexibility: We are now able to access our claims from any geographical location, which allows us to afford some staff the flexibility of working remotely, plus the option of us using other regions to assist any BU if needed in the future

 

 

The Goal

Fast processing of claims at reduced costs. 

The Results

Cover-More now processes claims faster at a reduced cost and with greater data security.

 

About e5 Workflow:

e5 Workflow is an innovator and enabler of process-based solutions that are Built for Business. With capabilities for Document Processing, Dynamic Case Handling and Work Management, e5 provides a singular platform for building new and extended process solutions while fully leveraging existing LOB systems and applications. Using e5 Workflow, our customers can quickly transform their business interaction, transaction and service delivery processes to get work done faster, better & cheaper.

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JAN
07
2016

Major differences between Data Backup and Archiving

backup data

 

There is often confusion between the terms “archive” and “backup.” Although archiving and backing up both involve data storage, these concepts are not same but distinctly different.

A digital archive is a repository of information that ensures the longevity, integrity, and accessibility of data to fulfill business, legal, and regulatory retention requirements. Archiving helps organizations deal with digital preservation challenges such as file format obsolescence, ensure regulatory compliance, make inactive records easy to retrieve by authorized users, and reduce the time and cost of maintaining obsolete systems only for their data by extracting and archiving the information.

On the other hand a backup is a copy of files made so that the original data can be restored if information is lost. Backing up data on a consistent, defined schedule mitigates the risk of data loss from human error, technology failures, computer viruses, and natural disasters.

 

The main differences between archiving and data backup are:

 

Information Type

Information needing long term preservation is archived to manage retention, avoid data bloat, and allow for the decommissioning of legacy applications. Archiving will therefore cut costs and enable better allocation of time and resources.

Backups protect both active and inactive production data. This vital information needed for everyday business use is copied to a backup storage target.  If the backup system suffers a catastrophe, operations would still continue since the production data would be unaffected. However, a new backup system would need to be put in place in case the production data was hit by a disaster.

 

Access to Information

Once your information has been archived or backed up, how and why will information be accessed? Digital archives store structured and unstructured data for long term preservation. Metadata for this information is captured and correlated with these digital objects.  An archive will provide authorized users with a business need access to necessary information. The users can then search and retrieve records thanks to the associated metadata.

IT uses backups for recovering large amounts of data, often to restore an application or system. Unlike archives which only store a piece of enterprise information, backups can provide full server recovery. Backups are only accessed when there has been a catastrophe and the backed up information must be loaded into a system. A backup includes copies of active data that still remain on the system.  Therefore access to backups must be limiting to insure the protection, authenticity, and integrity of enterprise information.

 

Long-term Preservation vs. Disaster Recovery

Archival storage is focused on long-term preservation of digital objects. Disaster recovery for digital archives exists and is necessary. However, this is a different process from backups since archives are not a backup service to restore systems.

Backup storage media of vital records and information includes magnetic tape, hard disks, and the cloud. The backup and disaster recovery processes are closely related with IT running scheduled backups on data then moving it to another location to protect against compromising events.

The integrity of backups should also be checked to minimize the risk of data corruption. The retention of backups will be different than the retention of archived records as backups are copies and unofficial records unless the originals are destroyed and the backups need to be used. Backups may need to be retained longer if there is a litigation hold.

 

Archives and backups are necessary for an enterprise to avoid risk and gain value by ensuring the availability and protection of its most important business asset: information. General principles of risk management are standard procedure for archives and backups.

For archives, risk management practices include capturing sufficient relevant metadata to guarantee access and instituting a file format policy so that only data in open, widely available formats are archived to ensure long term preservation.

Risk management standards from the perspective of backups would include implementing a regular backup procedure and having disaster recovery contingency plans. Knowing when and how to archive and backup with policies and procedures in place for both is important to support the preservation and access of information with long term retention and to prevent data loss in the event of a disaster.

 

DEC
29
2015

Importance of Agile in 2016

Agile Development

 

As 2016 is just round the corner, enterprises are looking to gain velocity with best practices positioned to enable collaborative environments where diverse teams can continuously learn, improve, grow and produce. Agile software development and Agile 2016 initiatives are underway at many leading digital enterprises – the realization that your enterprise may be better with an agile methodology is now almost a reality.

Today’s massive enterprises are competing to become leading digital enterprises. They realize that approaching business development in an Agile manner allows the savvy enterprise to maneuver meeting and exceeding user demands.  The changes in software development cycles necessitate building a more customer-centric legacy.

In a report released in July 2015, the research firm Gartner not only strongly recommended adopting agile, but offered CIOs several principles they can follow and adopt to create agile environments.

Why? According to Gartner, agile development is seen as a way for CIOs adjust to a new way of doing business, and Gartner believes IT leaders and executives need to adopt this approach as quickly as possible. In fact, Gartner’s research finds there are 10 guiding principles that should motivate enterprises to go agile in 2016. Gartner identified:

 

Agile is not one thing.

Agile development methodologies are a set of approaches to software development that share a common philosophy but are sharply distinguished in the details of their implementations. They therefore tend to be adapted to different sorts of problems. Sophisticated organizations with a lot of experience may well use more than one of these approaches, but an organization that is getting started should select one approach and master it before attempting other approaches.

 

Agile is not a “pick’n mix” methodology.

 

Agile methods are highly systematic. Every component element of the methodology is crucial to the success of the methodology. A common mistake is for an organization to embrace some elements of an agile methodology, such as the sprint, but to ignore or play down other elements, such as managing “technical debt.” Such organizations enjoy the kudos that comes from rapid development and release of new code, but they are storing up trouble by failing to address technical debt.

 

Embracing agile is a joint business-IT activity.

 

The full benefits of agile cannot be achieved without engaging with business leaders, management and the user community. If the rest of the business does not have an immediate appetite for working in a new way, careful planning and communication will be needed to bring different communities of managers and users on board.

 

With agile, it is important to walk before you try running.

 

Experienced agile practitioners can tackle large-scale developments — the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. But it takes many years to develop the necessary skills to be able to take on such large-scale software projects. Any organization that is starting out on the agile journey needs to start in the foothills to develop the confidence and competence to take on larger tasks.

 

Embracing agile is embracing continuous learning.

 

Agile practitioners must be committed to continuous improvement in quality and cost-effectiveness, which means that every development is analyzed for lessons that can be used to improve policies and working practices. This analysis and learning are not the responsibility of a small number of senior practitioners; they are fundamental components of the workload of all agile practitioners. Furthermore, the learning is not just appropriate to the programmers who are directly involved in software development; it is also essential for all the related skills, such as project management, architecture, quality assurance and IT budget management.

 

Agile is about teams and teams of teams.

 

The basic organizational unit of delivery in agile development is a small team, typically expressed as “seven, plus or minus two” people — both developers and quality assurance. From an HR perspective, managing agile teams involves walking a fine line between keeping productive teams together and moving individuals between teams to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas. If people are moved too frequently, the teams fail to develop into highly productive units; if people are not moved between teams enough, then each team starts to become isolated and diverges from the other teams. It is important to note that physical location of teams is much more important with agile methods than with conventional approaches to development.

 

Documenting, managing and eliminating technical debt is a core concept of all agile methods.

 

Technical debt is the difference between the state of a piece of software today and the state that it needs to be in to meet appropriate and necessary requirements for quality attributes such as reliability, performance efficiency, portability, usability, maintainability and security. All development creates technical debt. The difference with agile methods is that technical debt is recognized and added to the backlog, not swept under the carpet. Any organization that seeks to embrace agile methods must put in place the necessary elements of the chosen method dedicated to ruthless refactoring and the elimination of technical debt.

 

Working with third-party development service providers on agile development demands special care and attention.

 

Many user IT organizations have a long history of outsourcing application development to specialist service providers. While there is a role for service providers in agile development, it is a very different commercial model and a very different engagement model. Since co-location with business users is axiomatic to agile methods, the opportunities for sending large amounts of work offshore are somewhat limited, so some form of supplemental staffing is likely to be a more useful model.

 

The impact of agile goes well beyond the software development teams.

 

An integral component of the agile methodologies is the concept of “continuous delivery.” Agile methodologies are predicated on continuous engagement with business managers and users, and lead to the delivery of a continuous stream of new and modified software into the operational environment. This demands significant changes in working practices for both business governance and relationship management and the infrastructure and operations teams.

 

Other software development methodologies will still have a place in your portfolio.

 

In most commercial and public sector organizations, the application portfolio will present many different classes of development problems, some of which will be well-suited to agile, while some may be better-suited to incremental, iterative development and some to a modified waterfall model. Agile is not “better”; it is simply better-adapted to some problems, but not so well-adapted to others.

 

The Agile Landscape

As more enterprises are looking to deploy cloud-based services in order to enhance their IT experience, the prospect of going agile is growing increasingly valuable. While reinventing an organization for success in an agile landscape may seem initially daunting, the benefits of adopting agile can be meteoric for organizations looking to increase productivity, elevate software quality and experience the joy of happy customers.

 

DEC
24
2015

Benefits of good Business Process Management

Business Process Management

 

All small and large organizations can benefit from improvement in improved customer satisfaction, increased efficiency with reduced costs in existing applications and processes, more employee satisfaction and transparent system of activities in the organization. If this is your case, then e5 Workflow Inc.’s business process solutions can help you achieve a set of product/services which provides a workflow structure to information and employees in order to streamline processes and improvement of performance.

Business Process Management is the subset of Work management but you should not misinterpret BPM with BPMN as BPMN is a modeling and notation standard for efficient management of business processes. Many large scale organizations already have BPM systems in place. After a year or two of BPM being in use, employees are frustrated by the difficulty in changing processes. Due to this, an organizations’ agility and visibility and market response times take a beating. Compared to large organizations, smaller companies don’t usually have a BPM system and still rely heavily on emails, spreadsheets, messaging for work management.

Here we present the most important benefits of an efficient business process management:

Cost-efficient

Just simply cutting down budgets is not a good option anymore as companies are now leaner in response to global economic conditions as compared to a few years ago and now there is nothing left to cut down. But, in order to survive and make it to the next level, organizations need to increase the efficiency of costs they incur. Business Process Management is an optimum strategy to maximize cost efficiency. E5 Workflow’s processes help you build real time reporting and analysis so more teams can collaborate efficiently and get their projects done within budget to reduce costs by 30-50%.

Ease of Compliance

Changes to legislation and other factors have meant that companies without a flexible system for handling end-to-end compliance can incur great, unforeseen costs, both in reporting and penalties. Within BPM systems, companies can build compliance into their business practices if department-specific applications are integrated with the organization as a whole. We allow full integration with function-specific, 3rd party applications that are also tied to an organization-wide database. This makes it possible to produce automated reports that demonstrate compliance in a cost-efficient way.

Customer Centric

Savvy customers are demanding thorough proof-of-concept (POC) processes that document how their needs will be heard through self-service Web 2.0 capabilities. Business process management helps organizations to combine people with technology to acquire and retain satisfied customers and e5 Workflow lets organizations include any desired user, with easy-to-program security roles. This paves the way for ongoing, real-time collaboration with customers in a way that proves responsiveness, personalization, customization and access to information.

Employee motivation

Businesses usually try to maintain a rewarding environment where their staff feels satisfied and motivated to work harder. In order to do this there are business processes that are built specifically to motivate the employees and smart professionals who are not going to waste time or money on it. We at e5 Workflow motivate the staff with full transparency and satisfaction so that they can focus on their tasks while having access to all the information they require at one place and the team leads have visibility of what is going on and can manage their teams efficiently and get work done.

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DEC
10
2015

Cloud 2016: Prepare your strategy wisely

Cloud 2016

Cloud 2016

 

As we move towards the end of 2015, it is really important to consider what is happening in document management, information architecture and knowledge management that concludes the world of collaboration. The Cloud maybe the answer to your question. Forbes Magazine stated in 2015, Global SaaS revenues are forecasted to reach $106B in 2016, increasing 21% over projected 2015 spending levels.

A study by Goldman Sachs has projected a 30% growth CAGR from 2013 to 2018 with 5% growth for the overall enterprise IT. The biggest providers of the Cloud as a service are Microsoft and Amazon, though many small and large organizations are looking to shift to the Cloud like never before. The hype is now a reality and the Cloud is here to stay.

A question may arise that why this sudden urgency? Actually, the hype created awareness for the future of collaboration but now there is a level of urgency and surety regarding the advantages of Cloud storage and in Cloud applications. The development team and 3rd party app world have now got a reason to catch up to the hype. Many large and small organisations have migrated their content and major business process to cloud applications. Microsoft is seen pushing the Cloud platform more than before, even when they committed to on premise SharePoint 2016.

Disadvantages of using the Cloud?

  • Fear of the unknown. There is a long list of unknowns relative to accessibility and even ability to migrate custom applications and features to Cloud environments.
  • Being compliant is necessary. Legal and compliance issues about content being in the cloud and even where it exists in the cloud.
  • Loss of control. Depending on the type of Cloud service it can be both; an advantage or a disadvantage, the users can have limited control over application and features and functions.
  • It is taxing. The task of moving to the Cloud is pretty complex. The most challenging thing is to migrate user profiles to the Cloud, as migrating content is quite easy but integrating with other applications is tiresome.

Before moving on to Cloud 2016, you should be well prepared to tackle all possible difficulties. Just moving from SharePoint on premise to Office 365 or some Amazon service will never help your business. What needs to be done in such cases? Follow the steps to make sure that the Cloud is beneficial for your business. This has nothing to do with returns, it is just about management, timing and need. A Cloud Readiness Assessment is necessary to have a look at your business’s content and what other applications are used on a daily basis that can be under threat by the migrating to the Cloud. Taking a “top down” approach to look at your business is critical and the results could be used to form a strategy and get the answers to why it is important for your business to shift or not shift to the Cloud.

Going to the Cloud means changing how you provide or use collaboration, document management and other services within you organization. SaaS models greatly reduce hardware overhead, but provide limited ability to customize your user interface as well as business applications – maybe not a bad thing.

Like it or not, your organization will have to face up to the hype and the reality of the Cloud in 2016.  Either you will be told by executive management to move to the Cloud, develop a Cloud strategy…or stay away from the Cloud. Regardless of your organization’s Cloud intentions for 2016, be prepared by getting help to get your homework done.

NOV
26
2015

6 Ways To Improve Customer Experience

 

customer experience

 

Customer experience is the key to ultimate success of an organization and enterprises have increased their expenditure in the last few years in order to help their customers align with the systems within the organization for example the teams that communicate with the customers directly whether it is sales, after-sales or customer service department. With the advent of digitization, there has been a significant improvement but they also need to be updated with their policies and awareness to attain perfection of customer satisfaction measures.

This might include analysis of customer sentiments that is being conveyed on social media platforms and might go unnoticed if these channels are not looked upon on hourly basis or use some tools to get notifications via email when you get a customer feedback or comment on one of your social media platforms. This transformation also needs a digital platform to achieve optimum speed in order to meet growing customer demands. Businesses should look at two important sources of information: experts in the field and knowledge mined from different types of data.

Proper decision making can be used to transform the above two knowledge sources to transform the customer experience. It further allows the business to make changes and assist the Customer Service team to resolve customer complaints in a short time.

 

6 ways businesses can improve customer service:

  • Manage multi-device experience for customers without any inconsistencies, where a customer can start an interaction with a customer service executive on web and continue that conversation on mobile.
  • Come across as a single company to the customer, as dynamic case management can have multiple cases from one department to another.
  • Make personalised interaction with customers. There is no one size fits all type of theory that works in customer service. Each customer is different and you need a different approach to tackle them according to the situation as and when they come.
  • Help Customer Service Executives. Businesses should equip and train the customer service executives so that they can provide efficient and effective service immediately.
  • Authorize the Business. The knowledge of business strategies at high level and policies that drive it is based on the experts’ knowledge. These experts need authorization to use their prior experience and knowledge and make possible changes to the policies.
  • All successful businesses have a balance between two sources of knowledge (knowledge from collected data and knowledge from experts). This is understood from the business policies drafted by experts, demographics or other type of data, information gathered from different social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. and moreover from the information gathered from different devices like mobile, desktop, connected home devices etc.

 

The whole idea behind improving customer service is more about improving the entire customer support system and not only customer satisfaction. In contemporary enterprises, the whole spectrum of intelligence for decision making in order to provide optimum customer service is given extreme importance and provide excellent customer service with the help of experts, research models from previous data and strategies that learn and adapt to changes in consumer behaviour or market dynamics. Consumer behaviour is studied from a long list of IOT devices (Internet of Things) that allows customers to interact with the service and service providers as well.

NOV
19
2015

The Importance of Document Process Intelligence

Document Process Intelligence

 

Proficient businesses today are more focused on automating their document processing in order to form paperless systems and reducing operational costs which ultimately leads to improved profit margins. Companies are aware of the fact that document processing is just part of a wider process consisting of different technologies from multiple sources. Have you ever thought about the   future of documents and data that leave your document capture system?

It is thought-provoking because enterprises using multiple technologies for document processing face major issues in having a single view of reports and analysis throughout the whole document process. It is possible to get separate reports from each system but it is not possible to get a complete view of the document life span from the entry point to archive.

In following the age old systems, there is no surety that the document will actually move from one system to another without any glitches. Moreover, businesses are unable to view the analytics of document life cycle in a single place nor can they take any benefits from that. The moment when the issues are realized, there is no specific way to solve these issues. Having a proper Document Processing Intelligence can easily address these issues and provide an efficient system.

Document Process Visibility

This unique visibility process provides you the sole place to track the lifecycle of every document being processed by the organisation across all channels on the way to archive. Businesses can assign a list of owners who can manually manage the document on every step of the journey. For example, In an insurance claim application, the owner will change after each and every step – from insurance claim origination, processing and to passing the claim eventually. Efficient tools help you look at the overall process and the helping hand of a business analyst to understand documents’ processes.

 

Agreement

Document process visibility is not an option to have, it’s a necessity. No matter which industry you belong to, you need process accountability across all channels in the process especially in invoices. Your business is breaking the law if you can’t prove all steps the invoice has been through and so it is essential to keep it uniform across multiple channels.

This can be implemented by getting self-sufficient spreadsheets for managers to track and record the processes in real time. It is the task of data entry workers to update multiple channels and even integrate data manually. Businesses looking for saving costs big time are moving to automation tools providing accurate workflows for information on who accessed the documents at what time to get rid of the issues instantly.

Competence

Document processing can significantly help you find the parts of process that are not functioning properly. The aim here is to identify the problems and system improvement before the problem becomes a trouble maker. It provides an opportunity of improvement to users and managers as well.

In order to create such a competent system, managers can work with their teams to incorporate data from CMS to create a data of performance metrics. Businesses that are looking to go digital and believe in automation are deploying process applications for document automation, analytics, data integration etc.

By adopting document process intelligence across all channels, you will be able to gauge your data from capture to archive state as and when they travel. This information will help in adding value that document processing can provide to your business.

NOV
12
2015

Why is Digital Engagement necessary for all businesses?

Digital Engagement

Social media Marketing

Digital engagement is not an option anymore but it is a requirement. Digital is the key of business – redefining customer interface, restructuring how businesses work and to an extent changing the kind of competition in certain markets. The digital technologies today include mobile, web, social media but wearable technology and IOT (Internet of Things) will help expand the context in the years to come. The broader intent is quite straightforward, use of technology in order to create convincing and long lasting relationships, extreme satisfaction and open new channels of revenue.

Nowadays, businesses are digitizing customer journeys from early interest (connected on social media or visiting the website) to point of sale and even the follow up support service. The greatest way to accomplish this is to create a digital marketing strategy. A specific strategy which creates constant and persuasive customer experiences on each platform through a multi-channel content delivery, mobile responsive design and targeted audience.

The digital medium presents new customer engagement points and added more opportunities to engage. It is a usual case that a customer follows a brand on more than one channel (five to six channels) and hence it is really important for a business to have uniform content or message across all channels in order to gain more authenticity as a powerful brand. This will add to the customer satisfaction and in turn provide more return on investments. The demand of customers is to have a seamless program across all social media platforms and devices as well.

When a company understands the basic necessities of a customer and provides targeted and focused content, product or service irrespective of place and time, a customer experiences a sense of hallelujah and belonging to the company’s broader aspects and aspirations. Brands that better understand customer behaviour are well above their competitors in terms of providing a better all-round experience to their customers.

Any marketing activity needs to be tracked in order to understand customer needs and follow different plans and based on the results, the business can improve their marketing strategy. Analytics plays a major role in collecting information about various social media platforms, company website etc. about what kind of content is liked by the customers and vice-versa so that they can follow up with relevant content strategy.

The best approach a brand should follow is to target separate audiences through different messages that lay immense focus on products and services with utmost appeal for each section covered by the organisation. Businesses that use dynamic customer communications and provide a customised approach to their users, they are able to create and automate their marketing campaigns.

The consequences of good digital engagement are better sensed when you look away from sales and marketing perspective. No matter if a business has a product or service that is physical or digital, it is imperative for them to have a digital engagement strategy as their offerings are obviously enhanced by digital medium. It is imperative for organisations to have a digital engagement strategy and help the business flourish and establish as a global brand.

OCT
29
2015

3 things you need to know about Microsoft Office 2016

Microsoft Office

Windows 10 has grabbed the attention of social media and customers alike more so because it is a crucial operating system for Microsoft after the debacle of Windows 8 and a not so great reception for Windows 8.1. But, Microsoft has another major product on their cards now, Office, which enhances the Windows productivity of five major products into a system of applications. With Office 2016, Microsoft plans to build from scratch, a mobile and cloud first approach which is customer centric and doesn’t only focus on web compared to Office 365 and 2013. Office 2016 has recently been launched on September 22, 2015.

 

The Cost factor

The first and the most important thing we look at during major software products and updates is the price tag that comes along with it as there are so multiple updates for major software and it is not feasible to go through each and every revision. The all new Office 2016 suite is free for customers on mobile and tablets (conditions apply) and pretty cheap at $145 for “Office Home & Student 2016” and the RRP version of the same is priced at $165, along with subscription version of the suite (Office 365 Personal) at about $70 per year.

 

Built for collaboration

Office suite has changed how businesses operate and more focus is laid on connectivity and collaboration of projects. So, the latest offering from Microsoft, Office 2016 is emphasized on collaborations among spread out team members who may never work in the same office environment, but easily enhance productivity by accomplishing a major task that took a week to get it done.

Touch centric user interface

If you have used the Office for Windows 10, it is quite evident that Microsoft has given a universal app style for the apps and a touch friendly UI which is more familiar to the iPad owners. For instance, in Word, Microsoft lays focus on providing touch friendly controls for ease of text selection, copy/paste text, tapping on a wrong spelling shows a list of replacements. There is also an integration with Bing in providing a new feature called Insights, which automatically searches the web for information, latest news etc. of the selected word.

The good old MS Excel has been given a total makeover with snap functions and smart scrolling which make tapping in the spreadsheet data convenient and easy to use, again laying focus on touch centric interface like Word. Excel, with the help of a revamped status bar allows you to change between sheets and check the results of formulas for the cells selected by you.

PowerPoint has added some really important editing tools though the preview version doesn’t totally support all file formats, even the Presenter view is not worth the buck. So, all in all Office for Windows 10 apps offers selective features with a new touch friendly interface.

Office for Windows 10 is slated to be released in two forms: the first one for smaller tablets and smartphones and the other one for large sized tablets and hybrids. Both these versions are developed by the same team and offer quite similar features, the only difference is that both have different interface to match the size of the device. The features remain the same for different operating systems like iOS, Android or Windows. Microsoft strongly noted that Office for Windows will only be limited to the four most important apps and it is crucial to improve the quality of these apps.

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OCT
08
2015
SharePoint 2013

5 Reasons why you should update to Microsoft SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013

Microsoft SharePoint as you must know, is a collaboration platform for customised web services. It started with primary focus on Document Management within an enterprise though it is remarkable to see how far it has come today and provides not only a stout solution as Document Management System but even used as a collaboration tool by businesses. Its greatest asset lies in its ability to flawlessly integrate with different Microsoft products like Office 365, OneDrive, Outlook etc.

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 is shaped upon SharePoint 2007 and 2010 in order to support big data, web and mobile users. Businesses often face a problem when they have to choose the best alternative among cloud or server based versions of Microsoft SharePoint 2013.

Here we list down 5 important factors to keep in mind when choosing the latest SharePoint version:

Improved Branding

In the previous versions of SharePoint, it was an uphill task including designer assets, style sheets and confusing packaging has now been made a lot easier. With SharePoint 2013, a web designer with efficient knowledge in HTML, CSS and JavaScript can brand a SharePoint site moreover create a good looking public facing website in half the time. It allows businesses to reduce internal support expense and use SharePoint for public facing websites.

Better public-facing website hosting

It was a major task to host a public facing website (for example http://e5workflow.com/) on SharePoint. Hosting the same website on 2010 version was obviously better than that on 2007, though is lacked some key features. This is where SharePoint 2013 comes in as it possess the capabilities to serve up pages to devices like mobiles, desktop and tablets based on certain characteristics. It also includes several features to automatically improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by providing perfect URLs, XML sitemaps and help for robot.txt to make your website visible to search engine crawlers.

Efficient Mobile support

As we all know, mobile devices are our life support system nowadays. According to an estimate, 80% internet users access through their smartphones or tablets. So, it was high time that Microsoft come up with an enhanced experience for mobile devices than in the prior versions of SharePoint. Microsoft has added support for Push notifications, location services and there is an HTML5 coded view known as “contemporary” for instant access to iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobile devices.

Migration to latest version

It is always difficult to migrate your existing system to a new setup, no matter how good it is and sometimes you end up in a mess thinking that the latest version is not what you thought would be. Microsoft has made it impossible for businesses to move to SharePoint 2013 until and unless you are already using SharePoint 2010, or there are news about some third party tools in market. This does not go down well with businesses still operating SharePoint 2007 or have advanced to SharePoint 2010 recently.

Two options to choose from

Microsoft is providing two options for SharePoint 2013: SharePoint Server, which is to be installed in your datacentre (similar to previous versions) and of course Office 365, which is hosted on the cloud. There are features and capabilities that overlap but Microsoft is hoping to meet all common requirements of the customers. It is really important for a business to choose a viable option among the two as Microsoft has announced that they will continue to update both versions in the future.

The business has to consider all the pros and cons of both the options and even if they decide to choose a hybrid option. It is difficult to manage both and keep them updated. SharePoint is like a skeleton for many businesses whose product depends on it, so Microsoft should take care when there is an update to an existing version.

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