Office 365 is the default email client for companies worldwide. These same companies often default to using the platform as a tool for workflows and task management.
While the platform offers functionality in both areas, there’s a pretty big gap between where it is now, and where it could be.
Bridging the Internal and External Collaboration Gap
Office 365 offers great efficiencies in internal communications, but it falls short when it comes to company-client relations. Many of the companies using Office 365 do so to work with external clients using a combination of Outlook and Sharepoint, the first for communication, the later for document approvals and workflows.
Both, however offer limited functionalities when dealing with external contacts, reducing interactions to the basic capabilities of an email client — sending emails back and forth — and forms when used through Sharepoint.
This make the whole process of company-client communication shallow. It roots all interactions in the email inbox, leading to potential problems in miscommunication, client dissatisfaction, inefficient processes and more.
The Case for Third Party Integrations
At its core, Office 365 has the ability to cater to all sorts of different needs. But addressing every single one of these problems isn't tops of Microsoft's list to do. It would involve creating solutions for problems in multiple fields and industries, and involving many core competencies. In other words, a hard, time-consuming and expensive process.
Integrations with third party cloud-based software offers a simple solution to these problems.
Google recently announced at Google Next its plans to allow for third party integrations via Gmail add-ons. The email client offers these integrations through the Google Chrome browser, adding a lot of functionality and turning a typical email client into a swiss knife of communications and management.
Unfortunately Office 365 lags behind in that department. While several add-ons are available, they don't solve for every business need.
If Office 365 allowed for third party cloud integrations, its capabilities could potentially be taken to a whole new level. As most email clients (albeit, usually through a browser) allow for these kinds of integrations, one might argue this is long overdue.
Such integrations could cover a very wide scope. The case with Gmail, currently, is that it’s capable of handling tons of completely different use-cases: from the basics of email management (as a means of avoiding email overload), to transforming the client into a CRM.
In the example of the company-client communication mentioned above, integrations could smooth out the bumpy parts and increase transparency, collaboration and task management from within the email client.
Opening Up New Possibilities
With third party integrations, the possibilities are endless. In the above-mentioned case, for example, every stakeholder wins.
For Microsoft, on the other hand, it’s a strategic move. Countless companies would benefit from having their API integrated with Office 365. The integration could be taken as an opportunity for growth, for example — tapping into a previously inaccessible market.
The move could also create additional value for the company’s existing clientele. Integrations would mean taking their older capabilities, and delivering it with an added bonus of an email client. And that’s just the beginning — combining the core offerings of companies in several different industries, Office 365 has endless potential.