Microsoft expands Office 365 for first line worker

Microsoft redesigned Office 365 to be more specific to two major work groups: first line workers and educators.

First line workers are typically the first person a customer’s deals with at a company. You will see first line workers in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, travel & hospitality and government. Several of these workers need to view and track schedules and swap shifts with co-workers.

“First line workers have unique needs and Office 365 is being targeted to those who trade shifts. A tool like StaffHub enables you to pass shifts onto someone and share notes and other information on issues,” said Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw.

Also, Office 365 is being integrated with Dynamics and the Internet of Things for service technicians. For example, if a product fails on a customer they will get an automatic alert in Office 365, Shaw said, and be able to go out and fix the problem or dispatch location information.

Shaw added that HoloLens can be deployed for problem solving at remote locations.

There are more than two billion first line workers around the globe in Microsoft’s estimation and the company is combining Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security for this group and calling it F1.

The other group of focus – educators – will be getting Microsoft 365 Education that will include Office 365 for Education along with Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Minecraft: Education Edition. Microsoft is positioning this solution to enable students, faculty and staff to create, collaborate in a secure way.

According to a Harvard Business Review report, 78 per cent of respondents agreed that organizations must connect and empower its first line workers with technology and information. However, most organizations said there is still a gap in their ability to create this full connection for first line workers. Respondents shared that while 47 per cent of customer-facing first line workers are digitally connected, only 26 per cent of first line workers who produce goods and maintain or operate equipment are digitally connected.

There’s also a new price point with Microsoft 365 devices. New commercial Window 10 S hardware from HP Inc., Lenovo, Acer and Fujitsu will start at $275. Shaw said, Microsoft is working with OEM partners to have cloud-based identity and management on these devices for both first line workers and educators. HP and Lenovo also announced they will be supporting Windows AutoPilot, just like in the Surface, by providing device identification to companies on select orders starting in the new year. Microsoft said this will enable users to set up a new device complete with the company configuration and apps ready to go and removes the need for IT to touch the device or manage updates in person.

F1 will also come with business class email and calendar in Outlook, SharePoint, Yammer, 1:1 HD video chat and audio, Teams chat-based workspace, 2GB of cloud storage, Schedule & task management, StaffHub, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics, Windows Defender Antivirus, Device Guard, Azure Active Directory P1, Windows Hello, and Microsoft Intune.

Skype to Teams

Microsoft plans to bring Skype for Business capabilities into Microsoft Teams. Teams is being positioned by Microsoft to work as a hub inside Office 365. Look for Teams to feature more cognitive and data services such as persistent chat, voice and video.

At the Microsoft Envision/Ignite conference in Orlando Microsoft also announced new intelligent search capabilities for Bing, more integration with LinkedIn and a vision for intelligent communications centering on Microsoft Teams.

Shaw said Microsoft will be integrating LinkedIn graphs to create a more modern workplace for Office 365. For example, before your meeting starts Office 365 will provide information from LinkedIn. As for Bing, it will have more artificial intelligence so that searches become more relevant to the users. Shaw said, the AI will base searches on your own data to save time. For example, if you are looking for Harry Shum; you’ll get data of the executive and not the actor from the show Glee.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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