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Last week, after upgrading my Surface to Windows 10, a notification popped up in the corner of my screen reminding me that OneDrive sync was fully integrated into Windows 10 and my documents were ready.

It got me thinking about Microsoft’s push around Office 365 and OneDrive for Business over the last half year.

Since the preview of functionality and the OneDrive for Business roadmap at the Ignite conference in May, Microsoft has been working very hard to ensure that OneDrive is as well integrated, streamlined and easy to use as possible.

Ubiquitous Collaboration

By focusing on integration and increased utility, Microsoft has made it clear that OneDrive is evolving beyond a plain file share and sync system.

The unification of the consumer and enterprise sync clients, embedding into Windows 10, as well as releasing clients for every major mobile operating system, all speak to Microsoft’s intention to make OneDrive ubiquitous.

But it is the Outlook integration and access to shared content and sites that begin to shed light on Microsoft’s true aspirations for OneDrive: to make it the user dashboard for Office 365.

As Ross Krippner, OneDrive’s Director of Product Management, said, “Our vision is that OneDrive is the most powerful solution for anyone who uses Office or needs cloud storage while meeting the security and compliance requirements of organizations of all sizes.”

Historically, Users have created shortcuts to the services and content they use the most. Our favorite websites become our home pages and the icons for programs we use the most are pinned to our taskbars or sitting on our desktops. Users want quick access to the things they need most. By following this simple rule, Microsoft has really hit a home run with the new direction for OneDrive and Office 365 as a whole.

By positioning OneDrive as one of the primary web interfaces for users of Office 365 and building out deep integration with the rest of Office 365 services, Microsoft does two things: it entices users to engage with OneDrive on a daily basis and encourages organizations to promote OneDrive as the go-to collaboration platform.

For users, this new direction for OneDrive positions it as a less constricted collaboration platform that allows them easy, secure access to the content that they work with on a daily basis.

A Changing Workplace

Informal collaboration has grown increasingly important in the workplace. That's triggered changes in the way services such as Office 365 and collaboration platforms such as SharePoint and OneDrive are structured.

Let’s be honest.

As streamlined as Microsoft has tried to make it, Enterprise Office 365 is a complex suite of services, many of which users are either unaware of or neglect to use because of their less than seamless integration.

SharePoint itself, for years the go-to-content collaboration platform, is now seen as too rigid. In some cases, it actually hampers the type of quick, efficient informal collaboration that has become so popular among users.

In today’s corporate IT, users want solutions that not only work, but are easy to use and allow them to perform their tasks with minimal effort.

For these very same users, many of the extra offerings of Office 365 are “noise.” They don’t provide immediate value and have very little use in their day to day work.

With this new roadmap, Microsoft is acknowledging that email and collaborative content are the services a majority of users touch most throughout their day. Putting those two front and center and integrating them deeply to enhance collaboration is a huge benefit.

Paradigm Shift

For many, the OneDrive for Business user experience has been lackluster.

It's offered little more than a storage medium with a frustrating sync experience that barely held a candle to the standalone consumer version. The solution to this, though, was not as simple as unifying the sync clients.

There needed to be a marked change to increase user adoption of both OneDrive for Business and Office 365. “We want people to access their personal and work files in a single, seamless experience. ... We want to make sure we have a simple, consumer-like experience across any end-point and how they work with their files.”

Making OneDrive the entry point into Office 365, fixing the sync, embedding it in Windows 10 and providing access to sites and SharePoint Online-hosted content is an attempt to mitigate user objections to Office 365 and OneDrive’s disjointed user experience.

The addition of Office integration, modern OneDrive based attachments, real time co-authoring and unification around Android, iOS Windows Phone and browser experiences also provides a positive user experience in the BYOD-influenced corporate IT space — a space where users expect a unified interface that more closely resembles the services they use outside of work.

With immediate access to their most used content, an interface that they are both familiar with and enjoy using, and easy access to other Office 365 services, Microsoft has created the perfect incentive to not only use OneDrive, but to buy into Office 365 as a whole.

Previously, a user might not have paid any attention to Yammer or Delve because it was not something they needed in their day to day work.

Now, though, it’s right at their fingertips, with useful, if slightly superfluous, integrations with the content they use every day.

By making OneDrive for Business the entry point for Office 365, Microsoft is serving up its offerings in a much more attractive way.

If BYOD and informal collaboration content are the driving forces behind today’s service-centric IT, then using a more popular, unified OneDrive for Business as the Office 365 user dashboard is a shrewd move that will serve to increase user consumption of Microsoft services across all of Office 365.

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