Microsoft Previews New Applications for Office 365 Business Premium Plans
Microsoft will preview three new applications in the coming weeks for Office 365 Business Premium "first release" testers, according to an announcement this week.
Office 365 Business Premium is a collection of Microsoft Office applications for up to 300 users that's offered on a monthly or annual subscription basis. One of the new applications arriving as a preview is Microsoft Connections, which lets organizations launch and track e-mail marketing campaigns. Another is a Microsoft Invoicing application that lets organizations create billing invoices in PDF form. It includes a PayPal link for payments and can connect to Intuit QuickBooks to "sync customer and catalogue data." Lastly, there's Microsoft Listings, which is a centralized way of maintaining company information listings across Bing, Facebook Google and Yelp.
The new applications are joining two earlier additions to Office 365 Business Premium. Last year, Microsoft Bookings, an application that lets customers schedule appointments, was added. It was later brought into Office 365 E3 and E5 subscription plans. In April of this year, Outlook Customer Manager was delivered to Office 365 Business Premium subscribers. It brings together sales and deals information from Outlook, e-mails and Skype for Business in a list format, somewhat like a lightweight customer relationship management app.
Another new addition to Office 365 Business Premium at the preview stage is the Office 365 Business Center, which is a central dashboard for viewing application activity (see chart). It shows details for the Bookings, Connections, Invoicing and Listings applications in graphic form. Customer contact information gets recognized across the applications, eliminating work.
The Business Center will show "total outstanding invoices, the number of appointments scheduled, the impressions across Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp, and the number of new subscribers and sent campaigns," according to Microsoft's announcement. It also provides alerts when payments are overdue or when an invoice needs to be sent.
IT shops ultimately control who gets access to the Office 365 Business Premium applications. End users can request access to an application through the Office 365 Business Center, but approvals get determined by IT pros with Office 365 global administration privileges. Access to the apps is not turned on by default.
Previews of Connections, Invoicing, Listings and the Business Center are starting to roll out to U.S., Canadian and U.K. Office 365 Business Premium subscribers. Microsoft expects they'll reach "general availability," or commercial release status, "before the end of the year."
Microsoft also announced this week that it added MileIQ, its mileage-tracking application, to Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions. It works on Android and iOS mobile devices to track the miles for both business and consumer trips. The MileIQ app is currently available to U.S. Canada and U.K. subscribers. MileIQ is an existing application that Microsoft acquired when it bought Mobile Data Labs a couple of years ago.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.