microsofts inspired new workplaces - managed solution

Microsoft’s inspired new workspaces boost creativity and collaboration

By Jennifer Warnick as written on
Buildings 16 and 17 are two of the biggest at Microsoft headquarters – sturdy, brick-and-glass tributes to the practical 1980s, when the company was focused more on manifesting Bill Gates’ vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home than on the architectural prowess of its campus.
Inside, however, is a different story. There is light, air and art. There are new, retooled work spaces and vibrant common areas. Once fortresses of winding corridors, fluorescent lighting and private offices, the buildings were recently gutted and radically redesigned not just to be more interesting and modern, but to offer employees an unprecedented range of ways to get things done. In the parlance of the zip code, Buildings 16 and 17 have been totally hacked.
After all, it would be a non-starter for Microsoft to have the goal of empowering everyone on the planet to achieve more without trying to do the same for its own employees.
The buildings sport all the familiar hallmarks of a modern tech company – the plethora of free beverages, the ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café, the standing desks. But from there, the offerings get more unusual.
For starters, Buildings 16 and 17 are office-free. Designed with the idea that there is no one best way to get work done, there are an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives work together in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in angular atriums designed to capture and perpetuate light. They head into large, glass team rooms to collaborate, or into one of the many focus rooms or cozy alcoves for privacy. They yell and whoop in an Xbox game room, and take their shoes off to quietly recharge in the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge.
“It’s a new look for the new Microsoft,” said Jochen Liesche, a business manager for the Data Platform group who helped with the redesign. “I think ultimately the physical space really represents the culture here. It’s almost as if the physical space is a proxy for the company’s mission and its culture,” he said.

case study dr. oetker -managed solution

Case Study: Dr. Oetker

As written on
Consumers know Dr. Oetker as their favorite baking goods, cereals, and pizza brand. The German food company is rapidly expanding and is using Skype for Business to bring employees in 40 countries closer together. Using Skype for Business, employees develop products, interview job candidates, and provide tech support more efficiently and often without time-consuming travel. The software works well with the other Microsoft tools staff use every day, and conversations are more secure within the corporate IT infrastructure.
Dr. Oetker is a household name in Germany and is fast becoming one in 40 other countries. In business since 1891, Dr. Oetker ranks among the leading branded goods companies in the German food industry, with its baking powder, cake mixes, frozen pizzas, cereals, and snacks as well as dairy products. It is headquartered in Bielefeld, Germany, and employs more than 11,000 people.

Needed: one tool for everything

As the company expanded globally, Dr. Oetker shored up its technology tools for communicating and collaborating. “The Dr. Oetker brand prides itself on quality, and achieving consistent levels of quality when manufacturing products all over the world is impossible without tight communications among global teams,” says Frank Pickert , Senior Executive Manager IT Services at Dr. Oetker.
“The company had standardized on Microsoft Lync Server 2013 as its technology lingua franca, but that software was limited to communications within the company and with partners that also used it. The human resources (HR) staff members could not use Lync Server 2013 to interview job candidates, so they ended up using third-party web-based conferencing products that were outside the governance of the IT department.”
“We had to pay for multiple tools, employees had to learn different tools for internal and external communications, and we didn’t have control over the conversations that happened on these unsanctioned tools,” says Christian Plitt, IT Manager, Infrastructure and Shop Floor Solutions at Dr. Oetker. “We wanted one tool for everything.”

A tool that everyone knows

Dr. Oetker found that one tool in Skype for Business Server 2015, the successor to Lync Server 2013. “We really like Skype for Business because of its full integration with the Skype consumer product and the ability to search for contacts in that product,” says Kathrin Worner, IT Specialist, Infrastructure and Shop Floor Solutions at Dr. Oetker. “Our employees and outside partners immediately knew how to use it, and this was not the case with other tools that required a big investment in user change management.”
“By using Skype for Business, we can bring colleagues together who would probably not otherwise meet.… This is very useful in helping people feel like they’re part of the same organization.”
-Christian Plitt, Dr. Oetker, IT Manager, Infrastructure and Shop Floor Solutions
Also, Skype for Business is under the control of Plitt’s team, unlike the other collaboration solutions that employees had been using. “With Skype for Business, our data resides on our servers,” Plitt says. “It’s critical that we keep conversations about strategy, pricing, new products, and other topics confidential.”
To date, about 200 employees at Dr. Oetker already use the Skype for Business client, and the company plans to roll it out to all 3,000 employees who are currently licensed for Lync Server 2013. “Skype for Business use is spreading by word of mouth,” Worner says. “We’ve received very enthusiastic feedback. It’s become an indispensable part of daily communication for the teams that use it.”

Better collaboration across global teams

Here’s a sampling of how various Dr. Oetker teams are using and benefitting from Skype for Business:
  • Human resources. The HR department uses Skype for Business to conduct video interviews with job candidates. Previously, these interviews were performed as regular phone calls, and the addition of video has been significant. “It’s very important that our HR staff members see the candidates to get a better sense of each person’s demeanor,” says Plitt. “It’s a big advantage for candidates, too, to see who’s on the other side. Loyalty and long-term relationships are a core part of our culture, and this starts at the beginning, with hiring. With video interviews using Skype for Business, we can set the appropriate tone with prospective employees.”
  • Product development. Dr. Oetker has cross-geographical teams all over the world in product development, marketing, customer support, IT, and other areas. These teams use Skype for Business to work together more efficiently. For example, although product development teams can’t use Skype for Business to taste products, they can collaborate more closely when manufacturing the same product in different countries using regional ingredients. The marketing team at headquarters can see pizza boxes and other packaging that different regional teams propose and make sure that they comply with corporate branding standards. “With Skype for Business, we increase knowledge transfer across the company, from person to person and team to team,” says Pickert.
  • IT. The company’s IT Services team works worldwide, providing technical support wherever there are Dr. Oetker employees. Communication and collaboration is key for this team so that it can provide good, consistent IT support for employees. Recently, this team needed to connect a new pizza plant in Canada to the corporate network and had three months during a cold Canadian winter to set up the necessary IT infrastructure and train the local staff. “We ordinarily would have had to fly team members to Canada for several weeks, but instead we used Skype for Business video calls to handle most of the prep work remotely, which minimized the time that the team had to be away from their families,” Pickert says.
  • Executive staff. Dr. Oetker executives have fully embraced Skype for Business and now use it to stay in closer touch with their far-flung staffs. “Our executives use Skype at home, so having Skype for Business at work is a big advantage for them,” Worner says.
Plitt is excited about the role that Skype for Business will play in mobile scenarios, such as supporting the company’s hundreds of sales representatives. By outfitting all salespeople with a camera-equipped laptop or tablet PC, Dr. Oetker could help them react faster during the sales process. They could quickly place video calls with corporate support teams to resolve sales blockers or even show supermarket product placement to marketing colleagues to optimize merchandising.
Video is particularly valuable in an internationally operating company, because meeting participants can see facial expressions and reactions of other participants, which helps bridge cultural differences. “By using Skype for Business, we can bring colleagues together who would probably not otherwise meet,” Plitt says. “For example, it’s very difficult for employees in less developed or more remote parts of the world to fly to Germany for meetings. With Skype for Business, they can participate in international meetings and meet their colleagues, and this is also very useful in helping people feel like they’re part of the same organization.”
Dr. Oetker even foresees using Skype for Business with consumers. “At baking fairs and other events, or from their homes, consumers could meet a Dr. Oetker baking expert over video chat and ask questions,” Plitt says. “Skype for Business opens up new communication channels with our customers.”

Consistent interface

In addition to the ease-of-use advantages that Skype for Business offers, Dr. Oetker appreciates the fact that Skype for Business works so closely with the other Microsoft desktop tools that employees use every day. “Microsoft is one of our two strategic software partners,” Plitt says. “We use Microsoft Office and SharePoint Server, and all our desktop computers run the Windows 7 operating system. When we upgrade to Windows 10 and the latest version of Office, Skype for Business will be part of that whole picture and help our employees be more productive. It’s of enormous value to our employees to have consistency across desktop tools and be able to switch quickly and easily from one to another.”
Pickert adds: “As we continue to grow internationally, we’ll use Skype for Business to make it faster and smoother to integrate new employees and offices into the business. Because it’s so easy to set up communications with new employees, we can make them part of the company right away. This helps the business be more agile and responsive to local customers and markets.”

Less time-sapping travel

While Dr. Oetker cannot estimate Skype for Business–related travel savings at this early stage, the company does have a new policy: before purchasing an airplane ticket, all employees should ask themselves, “Could I use Skype for Business for this meeting instead?”
“Communicating using desktop tools saves our people a lot of time, which is more valuable than the actual travel costs,” Plitt says. “Travel kills a lot of productivity, and we can recoup those hours by taking widespread advantage of Skype for Business.”
As Skype for Business use expands across the company through grassroots adoption, the Dr. Oetker IT staff is already eager for upcoming features. “One of the reasons we chose Skype for Business is the fact that Microsoft is innovating in ways that no one else can match,” Plitt says. “A good example is the Skype Translator technology currently in beta testing with consumers. This has the potential to completely change the communications landscape, especially for companies like ours with colleagues in 40 countries.”


Technology is changing how we retire

By Tucker Smith as written on
From baby boomers to Generation X to millennials, it seems that each generation faces a new set of problems that they believe to be tougher to solve than those faced by the former generation. Baby boomers grew up during the height of the Cold War, Gen Xers took the brunt of the recession and millennials are burdened with more student debt than ever before.
Retirement is a hotbed issue that elicits different reactions depending on the age of the individual in question, but proves to be a problem that affects all three generations. Varying degrees of access, familiarity and trust in technology and differing definitions of a successful retirement are at the root of each demographic’s approach to the subject.
What’s interesting is that some traditional forms of investing, such as real estate and stock trading, are thought of differently by each demographic, while other traditional mediums, such as the 401k, are utilized in relatively the same manner.

401ks by generation

But more on that later. First, let’s break down how each generation handles retirement planning.

Baby Boomers (the Social Security generation)

Born between 1946 and 1964, the baby boom generation was raised in a conflicted and industrialized world that witnessed the Korean War, Vietnam and the creation of the United States as an industrial superpower. They were among the first to be born into an America that had a plan for their retirement: Social Security.
Passed in 1935, the Social Security Act was intended to provide the elderly with the means to exit the workforce at age 65. Baby boomers were raised to have full confidence in the program, which explains why one-third of their population today plans on using Social Security as their primary source of retirement income.
Millennials are the generation that everyone seems to have an opinion about.
In theory, the concept is simple: Those who are able to work will give a portion of their wages to those who are no longer able to work, which by today’s numbers amounts to 2.8 workers for every Social Security beneficiary. The average beneficiary can expect $1,229.85 each month from Social Security, making that the primary source of income for 24.31 million baby boomers in retirement.
This cold, hard fact has caused almost two-thirds of baby boomers to plan on retiring after the age of 65, with more than half of them classifying a reduced work schedule and retirement as the same.
Though they grew up hearing the benefits that came with Social Security, baby boomers are quickly realizing that it is not enough to retire on, and they are scrambling like crazy to make ends meet.

Generation X (the 401k generation)

Born between 1965 and 1978, Gen Xers are products of the early-stage technology boom. Witnessing the rise of the Internet in adulthood, they are familiar with technology but face trust issues with it from time to time. They are also the first generation to question the capabilities of Social Security, and saw their employers adapt the 401k on a wide scale as they began entering the workforce in the mid to late 1980s, making them the “401k generation.”
Gen Xers pioneered the idea of structured, personal retirement planning by integrating the 401k into the core of their retirement plans. Compared to the other two generations, Gen Xers are more likely to opt into a 401k, if offered, and are more likely to use professional financial planners than baby boomers. Around 83 percent of Gen Xers do not believe that Social Security will be there for them at their desired retirement age, which will be after the age of 65 according to 54 percent of them. Their lack of confidence in Social Security has caused most of them to believe they will need to work part-time into “retirement” strictly for financial reasons.
Though they came of age in a digital world, Gen Xers are less likely to trust financial technology, fintech, which is why we see a denser consolidation of retirement funds in their 401k accounts compared to their millennial successors. Gen Xers show an important progression in retirement planning by taking the baby boomer approach a step further with a more hands-on, personal approach.


Millennials (the innovation generation)

Born between 1979 and 1996, millennials are the generation that everyone seems to have an opinion about, but there seems to be a general consensus that they are in one way or another disruptive. Essentially born with technology in hand and little, if any, memory of a world without the Internet, millennials stereotypically tend to more quickly accept change and are open to challenging traditional ways of thinking and living. Consequently, this coexistence with technology comes with an inherent need for instant gratification and access to information.
Contrary to what the 401k graphs mentioned above might have alluded to, surveys have shown that millennials are actually more conscious and proactive about retirement than the two previous generations. On average, they began saving for retirement 13 years before the baby boomers and five years before Gen Xers.
However, the results of this trend are not reflected in the most obvious of ways. A little bit of math reveals that millennials actually contribute less to 401ks each year than the baby boomers ($2,357.14) and Gen Xers ($1,372.55) at an average of only $864.86. But that doesn’t mean that they are saving less. In fact, studies have shown quite the opposite.
The story behind millennials’ smaller 401k contributions is actually that they have progressed Gen Xer’s retirement approach a step further by being more open to adapting new tech-savvy platforms and services that enable them to diversify their investment funds. Innovations in fintech and real estate have allowed millennials to capitalize on their adaptive nature and enter positions that were previously unavailable to the twenty-somethings of past generations.

Gen Xers are less likely to trust financial technology

Robo investment services like Wealthfront and Betterment have given them the confidence to begin stock trading earlier than previous generations, which had to learn the ins and outs of the industry in order to be effective with their money. We can see this boosted confidence again with increased adaptation of services like Acorns, which make saving and investing automated, and Robinhood, which makes stock-trading decisions free and mistakes less significant.
The investment platforms mentioned above have all made stock trading accessible to a wider range of people through different approaches, but have uniformly shifted the millennial generation’s perception of the industry.
Baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials all perceive real estate differently, as well. Growing up in an America with new suburbs popping up every month, baby boomers view properties as nest eggs that people plan on living in for years. To them, owning a home was an accomplishment that checked off a box on their adulthood to-do list, or, in other words, it was expected.
In general, Gen Xers originally viewed finding a place to live similarly to baby boomers, but when the housing bubble burst in 2007, and a lot of them lost the homes in which they were supposed to raise their new families, their views changed. Since the burst, the United States has become a nation of renters, with recovering Gen Xers and non-stationary millennials leading the trend. In turn, landlords have seen great profits due to landmark increases in rent rates, making buy and hold rental properties a “must have” in one’s retirement portfolio.


Excel Online lets you view, edit and share your Excel workbooks from anywhere and it is free as part of Office Online or available for collaborating securely across your organization as part of an Office 365 subscription. We are pleased to announce several updates that help you with some of your most common spreadsheet tasks, including new ways to format data, use hyperlinks in your spreadsheet and explore data using PivotTables.
Read on for details about each one of these new and exciting improvements.

New ways to format data

Data comes in all shapes and forms. Excel Online now offers more number formats to display your data. To display the full list of format options, under the Home tab, click the Number Format drop-down and then select More number formats or right-click in a cell and select Format cells.

excel online march updates - managed solution

The beauty of using Excel Online is that it looks and feels like the Excel desktop experience you already know and love. Similarly, the Number Format dialog has the same options as the Excel desktop as we always try to keep the same and familiar user experience across all Excel platforms.

excel online march updates 2 - managed solution

We know that currency formats are very common in spreadsheets, so we have made it easier for you to find the most common currency formats for your data. When you click the $ sign, under the Number Format section of the Home tab, you will find a list of the most common currencies with access to more accounting formats.

excel online march updates 3 - managed solution

Connect your spreadsheet to more places using hyperlinks

You can now do more with hyperlinks in your spreadsheet when you are using Excel Online. For example, in addition to connecting a URL, you can now hyperlink to a place in the document or an email address. To display the Edit Hyperlink dialog, click Hyperlink under the Insert tab. Alternatively, right-click in the cell and select Hyperlink.

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Summarize and group data using PivotTables

PivotTables (and Pivot Charts) are one of the most productive tools that Excel has to offer because they make it quick and easy to summarize and group your tables of data in any way you like. With this update, you can do more with your PivotTables with settings to change the way you summarize your value fields. If you would like to see the average sales amount instead of total sales amount, then the Value Field Settings is your dialog. You can launch the dialog from the Value menu in the PivotTable setting pane.

excel online march updates 6 - managed solution

The Value Field Settings dialog consists of two tabs. The SUMMARIZE VALUE BY tab allows you to change the summarized value type.

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The SHOW VALUE AS tab enables you to change the type of calculation used in the PivotTable value fields. For example, instead of its absolute value, you can view the percentage out of the grand total.

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If you don’t like the value name, or if you wish to shorten it, you can rename it in the Custom Name text box.

Faster filtering in PivotTables with search

Just like regular tables in your workbook, you can filter data in your PivotTable for quick analysis. Now, Search dialog includes a Filter dialog to help you easily find the values you want to display. You no longer need to scroll through a list of hundreds or thousands of values to find what you are looking for. Search as you type makes your experience fast and friendly.

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Saving your last viewed workbook

When you save a workbook and then open it with Excel Online later on, we keep you on the same sheet you last viewed, making it faster for you to keep moving with your work.

On-premises availability

On-premises users will also be able to benefit from the improved experience that we’re building for the cloud. All you need to do is have SharePoint deployed and then integrate it with the upcoming release of Office Online Server. In the future, you can expect to see frequent updates coming to on-premises in parallel to being released to the cloud.

Try them out yourself

Try out these new features and see how they can help you do more with Excel from anywhere! Do you have ideas on other features and improvements that you’d like to see in Excel Online? Visit our Excel UserVoice and let us know what you think!


why its ok for social collaboration to encourage shadow it - managed solution

Why it's OK for social collaboration to encourage shadow IT

By Matt Kapko as written on
The use of unsanctioned social collaboration tools in the enterprise can be a real challenge for any IT organization, but they also often spark productivity and help teams focus. In fact, many CIOs and IT professionals say workers who use apps such as Yammer and Slack can both raise the threat associated with shadow IT and drive productivity gains. Companies must understand the unique strengths and weaknesses of popular social tools if they want to see real value, according to business leaders.
Social collaboration apps compound the effects of shadow IT, according to Brian Kelley, CIO of Portage County, Ohio. When employees "go rogue" and veer away from traditional or sanctioned corporate communication tools, enterprises lose access to important records, he says. "Business leaders can reduce the risks and hidden dangers … of shadow IT by bringing it into the open," Kelley says. "This will require better aligning the business with IT, improving communication with managers, and reducing the complexity of IT procurement."
"Shadow IT happens when users are not happy with existing solutions the company has put in place and are striving for process improvement and efficiency," says Doron Gordon, CEO of IT service management company Samanage. "The harder it is for teams to communicate effectively the more likely they are to seek out a resolution on their own."

Social collaboration, shadow IT and freedom of choice

Different teams within a company often have different needs, but workers should not have complete freedom to pick and choose their own tools, according to Gordon.
"Teams should be allowed to identify and solve problems on the ground," says J. Colin Peterson, CEO of J - I.T. Outsource, an IT support firm for small businesses. However, "[t]here should be consensus on the process and the tools that are used. Otherwise it is bedlam."
In fact, Peterson says, IT professionals should insist that their staffs use approved tools. CIOs need to focus on workflows rather than adopt lenient technology policies to appease a minority of people on staff, according to Peterson. "My suggestion is to create a situation that makes it impossible to complete work without the approved apps," he says. "Figure out why you have people going rogue, determine if the benefit realized is real, implement where necessary, and disallow other applications."
Mike Micucci, senior vice president of product management at, says employees are most efficient when their collaboration tools connect directly to business processes or functions. "The end goal is to provide employees with access to a fully integrated suite that enhances relationships between colleagues and builds a more productive organization," he says.
Collaboration tools should reach across departments, offices and regions, according to Micucci. "In my experience, the impact of a social network that unifies the whole organization always outweighs any specific feature preference by one group or another."

Some CIOs cautiously embrace shadow collaboration

Not everyone agrees that IT should be so strict about the social collaboration apps their staffs use.
Marcus Schmidt, senior director of product management at enterprise tech firm West Unified Communications, says apps that enter the enterprise as shadow IT can morph into structured, managed solutions. Single applications with multiple sub-groups, channels or rooms for teams are always preferable, he says, because IT staff can manage employee access and view participation metrics in a single dashboard. "Ultimately, the key to success with social tools is to maximize adoption across the team. That is nearly impossible if there are multiple, competing shadow IT solutions."
Once a collaboration app catches on with a dedicated set of employees, it can quickly spread to other members of the same line of business and result in different apps being used across the enterprise, according to Karim Sadroudine, director of innovation ecosystem at BroadSoft, a unified communications software maker. Unfortunately, it's a trend that's very difficult to contain, Sadroudine says. "I cannot think of an example where a mass movement for a tool or application in the enterprise was ever successfully controlled."
Restrictions on corporate Internet access, and the use of personal email and popular apps such as Facebook are mostly futile attempts to prevent workers from using the tools they prefer, according to Mark Montini, chief results officer at marketing tech firm M2M Strategies. Businesses should endorse their preferred apps and attempt to drive adoption, but also encourage employees to leverage new tools that could prove to be valuable and eventually make it onto the preferred list, he says. "When businesses attempt to control social collaboration in the workplace, it serves to undermine the principles that drive social collaboration in the first place," he says. "The key is to contain, not control social collaboration.
Social collaboration apps are increasingly pervasive in the enterprise, and they often boost the use of shadow IT, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, according to Andrew Horne, IT practice leader at CEB, a technology advisory firm, who calls the trend a "healthy development."
"Often, the problem with collaboration isn't the tool itself but that the team isn't ready to collaborate," Horne says. As such, IT leaders need to prioritize their efforts around supporting collaboration, not forcing employees to use a specific tool.


With Office 2016, you regularly get new and improved features. Take a look below to see what's available to you today and come back later to find out what else has been added.
If you're new to Office or new to an app, check out the Office 2016 Quick Start Guides.


In Word and PowerPoint
Work with others simultaneously on a document regardless of the device you're using.
Learn more about co-authoring in Word and PowerPoint

Simplified Sharing

In Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
Just click the Share button in the Ribbon for easy sharing right from your Office documents. See who has access to a given document and who is currently working in the document, and change individual authoring permissions for any document you own.

Shared Notebooks

In OneNote
Collect any and all relevant information (e.g., photos, videos, clippings, drawings,...) in one central location, work with others, and watch the app sync changes within seconds.

Shared Notebooks

In OneNote
Collect any and all relevant information (e.g., photos, videos, clippings, drawings,...) in one central location, work with others, and watch the app sync changes within seconds.

Real-Time Typing

In Word
As you collaborate with others in a document, see where others are working and view their edits as they happen.

Modern Attachments

In Outlook
Attach a document from your recent items and share them from OneDrive or SharePoint with email recipients. Also configure sharing permissions so that all the recipients have access to the attached file without having to leave the app.

Mail Triage

In Outlook
The Clutter feature learns how you prioritize your mail and then helps you by putting low priority messages in a separate folder (while still giving you a daily summary so you don't miss anything). When on the go, you can also take advantage of this capability by using the Focused Inbox.

Improved Version History

In Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
Refer back to previous snapshots and earlier drafts of documents during the editing process as you collaborate with others.

One-Click Forecasting

In Excel
With one simple click, create forecast charts based on historical data and predict future trends. This new capability uses the industry standard Exponential Smoothing (ETS) algorithm to give you reliable forecasting data.

New Chart Types

In Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
Visualize financial or hierarchical data, and highlight statistical properties of your data with new chart types: Treemap, Waterfall, Pareto, Histogram, Box and Whisker, and Sunburst.

Learn more.

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