Monday, 10 February 2020

Best Microsoft Business Apps in 2020




Author by Firebrand Training

Microsoft is an enterprise applications titan. But beyond the time-tested Windows OS and Office suite, their tool offerings grow so fast it may be hard to keep up. We compiled a list with the top Microsoft apps that will help you grow your business in 2020. 



Microsoft’s digital transition to cloud technology was one of the most surprising moves in the IT business in recent years. The shift from on-premises to cloud computing technology gave new life to the company, and its offer of business apps has been growing at breakneck speeds.

In 2018, a whopping 88% of businesses in the UK claimed to have used cloud services. According to the company, its Azure regions grew more than twofold in the UK last year. Plus, its compute capacity increased by over 1,500%, hinting at the upcoming digital transformation in the UK and the world. 

So what are some of the best Microsoft products and tools you can implement in your business today? Take a look at the top Microsoft apps for businesses below.


1. CRM: Microsoft Dynamics 365

  • Cloud-based, modular ERP system with CRM solutions.
  • Aids companies in making smarter decisions through data-driven solutions and recommendations.
  • Offers guidance on sales, product visualisations, monitoring tools, mixed reality and AI learning tools, and more.
  • Pricing: — starting at £37.70 per user/month

As one of the most popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers innovative solutions that will drive business success. Dynamics 365 increases productivity and collaboration while boosting sales.


The platform integrates natively with a diverse range of Microsoft applications, Including Office 365, Outlook, Skype, OneNote, Yammer, LinkedIn, and many others. Plus, its flexible offline, online, cloud-based, and on-premises options can save time through flawless desktop and mobile device integration.


This cloud-based solution uses enterprise resource planning (ERP). Furthermore, it offers mixed-reality and AI tools. The service operates through several modules (apps). These include Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Finance, and others.

The system allows companies to improve their business processes and create effective relationships with customers. As shown, Dynamics 365’s modules are tailored for multiple business processes, ensuring maximum versatility.

Who’s it for? 

This CRM is suitable for both small and big businesses alike, from enterprise-level companies to non-governmental organisations. Its tools can generate a successful road map for sales and marketing departments, customer service representatives, and other teams.

Ultimately, Dynamics 365 can be used to manage all business operations through one solution effectively.


2. Data Analytics: Microsoft Power BI

  • User-friendly data sharing, analytics, evaluation, and visualisation tool.
  • Users can create scalable dashboards, interactive reports, embedded visuals, and more.
  • Offers a full overview of all business data.
  • Pricing: Free or £7.50 per user/month.

Microsoft Power BI is an affordable solution for data collection, evaluation, and sharing. It bears some similarities to Excel in terms of navigation and visualisation. This tool offers data representation in diverse formats. Power BI can be utilised for monitoring critical organisational data and business performance.

In Power BI, users can integrate apps and develop embedded visuals, interactive reports, scalable dashboards, and even create reusable models. All in all, the app allows the user to connect to multiple sources of data (70+).

It’s possible to publish results and share information with other Microsoft apps for Windows or other platforms. The service contains three key features — Datasets, Dashboards, and Reports.

Plus, additional features include the Navigation pane, Office app launcher, Q&A box, live support, along with several others. What’s more, it is available in three licensing tiers: Desktop (free, limited features), Pro, as well as Premium.

Who’s it for?

Power BI is a highly adaptable solution that can assist just about any company due to its analytics capabilities. Any business can gather and visualise data to evaluate its performance and operations. Most importantly, the service will be familiar to Excel users, and employees will not require thorough training due to its intuitive interface.


3. File Management: SharePoint

  • Smarter document and file management for improved collaboration.
  • Leads to a customisable workflow and more effective communication.
  • Pricing: starting at £3.80 per user/month.

Over the past ten years, Microsoft SharePoint has become a highly popular document management solution. The app, now offered as a cloud storage service, provides a simple and accessible way for companies and organisations to share files, content, information, and other data.

It stores documents in a format that is much more effective than the traditional folder system. Moreover, the app ensures that the documents will never get lost and will be instantly available.

Who’s it for?

SharePoint offers a variety of multi-purpose options that can be configured depending on your needs. For instance, it provides multiple document libraries, various communication tools and formats (calendars, CEO newsfeeds, discussion forums), records management tools, etc.


4. Cloud: Azure

  • Leading cloud-based collection of tools for software development and support, API management, and virtual machine solutions.
  • Offers hundreds of services that you can utilise to build, deploy, and manage applications.
  • Pricing: variable depending on use; see pricing calculator

Azure is a massive collection of cloud-based services for building, deploying, and supporting applications. It contains hundreds of tools and is offered via multiple licensing plans. Overall, some of the areas covered are application development, data analysis, cloud computing, VM building, e-commerce, and more.

Azure can also cover AI learning, database management, security, and more. Users can implement Azure resources and host just about any part of a website. Additionally, the tools can include file storage, e-mail servers, directories, web servers, etc.

Who’s it for? 

The diverse choice of Azure tools makes them useful for many organisations. Due to its scope, it’s possible that small businesses could feel overwhelmed by it. However, it’s worth noting that users can select the Azure services that their business requires the most.

Some of the most popular Azure tools include Search, Backup, Virtual Machines, Information Protection, and Mobile Apps.


5. Communications: Microsoft Teams

  • Collaboration through calls, meetings, chats.
  • Accommodates teams of 10 to up to 10,000 employees.
  • Facilitates communication through audio/video conferences, file sharing, team discussions, and more.
  • Pricing: Free or £4 per user/month (Office 365 Business Essentials)

While many apps are directed towards facilitating business communications, Microsoft Teams stands out as one of the simplest and most effective. Microsoft Teams offers easy-to-implement functionality for audio/video calls, meetings, chats, and more.

Additionally, the app provides alerts, group discussion threads, a handy search feature, and Office apps integration. Depending on the product editions, Teams can allow you to connect hundreds of employees through one platform.

Who’s it for?

With the ability to connect as few as ten employees (if used as a free app) or up to 10,000, Teams can equally accommodate any small or enterprise-level company. Moreover, its features are highly impressive, and its functionality and accessibility particularly stand out.

Teams’ clean and sleek interface ensure all employees can quickly master its features.


6. AI Solutions: Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI

  • Intelligent tools for accelerating business processes.
  • Provides AI-powered insights, tracks performance metrics, produces interactive charts and visual filters for a wide range of purposes.
  • Pricing: Varies depending on the service (around £30 per user/month for Sales Insights for example)

Dynamics 365 AI is one of the latest services in the Microsoft store. It attempts to bring AI to the forefront of business development.

Dynamics 365 AI aims to introduce artificial intelligence solutions to businesses of any size or form. Moreover, the service offers many integrated apps in various fields. That consists of Sales Insights, Customer Insights, Market Insights, Fraud Protection, etc.

Who’s it for?

As mentioned, the service has myriad uses and offers diverse ways of gaining insights into specific business processes. For instance, the Sales Insights service utilises customer data. It then generates AI-driven solutions to increase profits.

Conversely, Market Insights provides AI-powered tools to track down consumer trends automatically. Plus, another valuable service is its virtual customer support tool. It can supply a business with virtual agents that could lead to high-quality customer support.


7. Automation: Power Automate

  • Fast automatisation of redundant business processes.
  • Easy to build workflows
  • Pricing: £10 per user/month

Power Automate is a revamp of Microsoft’s Flow app. It allows users to streamline repetitive tasks through automation and thus free up time. However, the app doesn’t require coding knowledge and includes a simple point-and-click interface. Power Automate can be integrated with OneDrive, SharePoint, and other Microsoft apps.

Who’s it for? 

It’s an excellent option for app building. Plus, it could assist businesses who wish to model their processes across linked data sources. The app currently allows automation across over 200 connected sources.


8. Safety: Cloud App Security 

  • Integrates with over 16,000 Microsoft cloud services.
  • Offers control over data travel and provides analytics to alleviate security threats.
  • Pricing: £2.5 per user/month

This Microsoft service is, in fact, a Cloud Access Security Broker. It uses complex analytics to keep over 16,000 Microsoft cloud apps safe from cyber threats. Cloud App Security offers centralised management, straightforward deployment, and advanced automation features.

Who’s it for? 

While Microsoft’s technologies are perfectly safe, it’s crucial to use additional security measures. Cloud App Security can identify rogue applications and ransomware, detect compromised apps, and lower the risk of security threats.

If you’re considering any of the top Microsoft business apps we’ve mentioned, Cloud App Security would undoubtedly be a smart investment.

Conclusion

The Microsoft business apps outlined in this article are admittedly impressive, as they fit a diverse range of businesses. Most are suited for enterprise-level companies as well as smaller organisations. Most of the top apps, such as Teams, Azure, and Dynamics 365, are well on their way to revolutionising the future of business.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that being certified in most of these apps will go a long way in terms of future employment and business development. Ultimately, while the apps are undoubtedly impressive, they will only be so useful if one knows how to use them properly.