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If the release of Office 365 in 2011 was one of the key dates in the history of Microsoft, the release of Microsoft 365 in 2017 could well turn out to be another milestone.

This is especially true after Jared Spataro, CVP Microsoft 365 marketing, told the recent Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco that two full years after its release, Microsoft 365 now accounts for 25% of all Office 365 licenses sold.

Again, this is not surprising given that Microsoft has been encouraging users to move to Microsoft 365 since it was first released. However, the company is not encouraging users to drop Office 365. Rather it is advising those that haven’t made the leap to the Microsoft cloud already, in whatever form, to look to Microsoft if they are looking for a fully equipped digital workplace environment just about ready-made. To clarify the differences between the two:

  • Office 365: A cloud services platform that offers Microsoft products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive, along with other productivity services like Teams, either online or on-premises via a subscription plan.
  • Microsoft 365: An all-in-one bundle that includes the Office 365 suite, Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise Mobility+Security for a complete, interconnected experience.

The enterprise version of Microsoft 365 is designed for organizations that need a single platform to share and collaborate without risk, which offers data security built on top of Windows 10 Pro and Office 365.

To get a sense of how big Office 365 is, Spataro said that Office 365 now has 200 million commercial monthly active users. “A new datapoint that I'll share with you and with this room that we haven't shared before is that now when we look at Office 365 purchases, over a quarter of Office 365 licenses are being purchased through M365 or through Microsoft 365," he said at the conference. "So in other words, what we're trying to communicate to you is Microsoft 365 as a vehicle now is allowing us to go in and not just sell Office 365, but also to sell EMS and to sell Windows."

He also said that Microsoft considers Microsoft 365 to be all about three pillars: Personal productivity, organizational productivity, and security and compliance. By moving beyond just selling Word/Excel/PowerPoint, Microsoft is "tapping into new budgets."

It is from this perspective that enterprise leaders need to look at the ongoing struggle for dominance in the productivity suite market. Microsoft, as we can see, is not just selling tools, it is selling entire environments that cover everything from collaboration to content management to data management and security. For the moment, at least, no other company is doing that.

4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in US

With all these new technologies, it seems that more and more workers are becoming engaged in the digital workplace. However, the levels of engagement are still low and only certain enterprises demonstrate this new kind of engagement.

Workplace engagement has long been a priority for modern workplaces and one that Gallup has been following over the years. Its recently published report, "4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in US," is just the latest in a series of studies and the first sign in a while that things are getting better.

According to the research, in 2019, the percentage of "engaged" workers in the US — those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace — reached 35%. This, according to Gallup, is the highest rate of engagement since 2000.

The level of disengagement, which Gallup defines as those with a miserable work experience and who spread the misery among their colleagues — is at its lowest level since the research began (13%), which makes the ratio of those who are engaged to those who are actively disengaged at 2.7 – 1, the best figure since the tracking began.

The report notes that the remaining 52% of workers are in the "not engaged" category — those who are psychologically unattached to their work and company and who put time, but not energy or passion, into their work. Not engaged employees will usually show up to work and contribute the minimum required. They're also on the lookout for better employment opportunities and will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer.

For context, the findings are based on a random sample of 4,700 full-time and part-time workers in the US surveyed between January and August of 2019.

There is no point, though, in taking this figure out of a report if the report doesn’t explain why engagement might be improving. This research offers four possible reasons why engagement is rising. They include:

  1. High-development cultures are CEO- and board-initiated. The organization has a well-defined purpose and brand — why it exists and how it wants to be known.
  2. High-development cultures educate managers on new ways of managing — moving from a culture of "boss" to "coach."
  3. The best organizations have leaders who encourage their teams to solve problems at the local level rather than using top-down commands.
  4. The best organizations have exceptional CHROs who build systems that teach managers how to develop employees in line with their innate tendencies.

Finally, the best companies, the research concludes, are those that believe employee recognition is the best way to ensure business success.

Kofax Releases AP Agility to the Cloud

Elsewhere, Kofax, which develops intelligent automation software to digitally transform end-to-end business processes has announced it has pushed its accounts payable solution, AP Agility, to the cloud and is offering it as a SaaS offering.

Kofax AP Agility Cloud combines AI-driven capture, three-way matching of invoices, purchase orders and receiving documents, approval and exception workflows, automated general ledger coding and analytics.

By delivering this as a service, AP Agility Cloud gives enterprises more deployments and greater agility in financial operations and processes. The solution is hosted on Microsoft Azure, which eliminates the need for onsite IT infrastructure, and allows customers to launch and scale the solution quickly.

According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises, by 2024, 60% of all new midsize core financial management application projects, and 30% of large and global ones, will be public cloud implementations, so the decision to push it into the cloud is a smart one.

It also dovetails with the company’s predictions for process automation over the course of this year. One of the predictions is that intelligent automation will extend across the back and front office. In the back office, organizations have been using automation to create operational efficiency for some time particularly around the reduction or elimination of time-consuming paper-based processes.

BIS and ImageNet Partner for Document Workflows

Meanwhile, BIS, creator of Grooper, which develops a platform for transforming unstructured data into actionable information, has announced a new partnership with ImageNet Consulting, which specializes in Laserfiche. The partnership was formed to add data integration to intelligent document workflows.

Laserfiche is a privately owned software development company that creates enterprise content management, business process automation, workflow, records management, document imaging and webform software. Headquartered in Long Beach, Calif., it sells its software through value-added resellers distributed throughout the world.

The enterprise content services market is currently adding intelligent document classification and data integration into the mix. Grooper is an example of such. By using image processing to get better optical character recognition, Grooper's machine learning algorithms will not only automatically classify documents but extract relevant business information at the same time.

This new capability provides more meaningful, and intelligent document-based processes for the Laserfiche community. Now both documents and the data contained within them is tightly integrated into business workflows. This increases the operating footprint for electronic content management solutions.

Infosys and GE Appliances Partner

Finally, Infosys and GE Appliances announced a new partnership that aims to streamline IT operations. As an IT services partner, Infosys will help GE Appliances modernize its IT infrastructure and run IT in managed services mode as part of the overall innovation and optimization agenda.

As a part of this alliance, Infosys will assist GE Appliances to accelerate their digital and workplace transformation through automation-driven managed IT services support across global command centers, service desks, end-user computing, IT infrastructure and applications.

Backed by robust ‘transformation of service delivery’ and ‘value to price’ models, coupled with levers of innovation fund and year-on-year productivity, Infosys has developed a unified custom delivery model to accelerate GE Appliances’ digital transformation journey.