A tablet with data analytics displayed on the screen is resting against a laptop.

Office 365 Enterprise Includes Powerful Business Analytics Tools

27 Jan 2017 by Teresa Meek

It’s no secret that businesses have fallen head over heels for data analytics over the past few years. But despite all the analytics hype, many companies struggle when it comes to using their data effectively.

Companies that get analytics right make business analytics tools a part of their strategy, according to a study by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS. Only an eighth of the companies surveyed had a long-term strategy for using analytics, and a fourth had no analytics plan at all.1

Managers who gain the most from analytics routinely consider data when making decisions. For example, when data showed an automaker it was using different product parts in America, Europe and Asia, the company established standards for its components, creating cost efficiencies that saved $2 billion.1

A McKinsey & Company study found the use of data analytics to be an important differentiator between high-performing and low-performing companies. High-performing companies were nearly five times more likely to have the tools and expertise to work with real-time, unstructured data. They were also twice as likely to say they made data accessible across their entire organization.

Using analytics to gain insights into what customers want and to spot new opportunities doesn’t mean you have to hire a data scientist or invest in cloud-based, number-crunching computing power. You can learn a lot simply by monitoring your own office activity and viewing operations on a web analytics dashboard. The new Office 365 Enterprise E5 suite has built-in capabilities that help you do both.

The power of analytics

The way you use Office can teach you a lot about your work habits. How much time do you spend in online meetings and video chats? Does doing so help you get your job done, or would your time be better spent working on your own?

What about email? How many of your messages are actually being read? Does it matter which day of the week or what time of day you send them?

The results may surprise you. Office 365 now comes with embedded business analytics tools that record thousands of interactions, collecting data about email, chat sessions, phone calls, videoconferences and documents you collaborated on. You can select and display analytics on a dashboard, revealing information such as whether colleagues are opening your emails and, if so, when.

Patterns can reveal ways to help you work more efficiently. If your chief financial officer signs off on expense reports in two minutes when they’re sent before 8 a.m., but takes three hours to sign off if they’re sent later, you can adjust your schedule to get faster results. If you had similar knowledge about everyone in the company, you could be a lot more productive.

Analyzing your operations — visually

Office 365 E5 also comes with Power BI, a web analytics dashboard that displays business intelligence information visually so you can instantly grasp trends and significant events.

Visual analytics draw from the fields of computer science, graphic design and social sciences to display information more dynamically than a spreadsheet can. You can combine several graphs or charts, customized to display information you’re curious about in whichever way you choose to juxtapose it.

For example, you can see how quickly products move across each part of the supply chain, making it easy to spot bottlenecks. You can cross-reference sales and production figures with data from last year or last month without sorting, labeling or filtering an Excel spreadsheet or requesting documents from other departments. Everything is available on a dashboard on your computer.

With a visual business intelligence solution, trends “pop out” before your eyes, leading you to make intelligent, informed decisions with confidence.

eDiscovery

Analytics can also help get rid of time-consuming drudge work, such as document review. Advanced eDiscovery in Office 365 E5 uses machine learning techniques to sort thousands of documents and quickly find elements relevant to your search.

eDiscovery can save you an enormous amount of money and staff time while speeding up the search process.

Thread Analysis reconstructs email chains to give you the most up-to-date information, instead of a dump of replies and forwards. This eliminates duplicates and adapts to identify only the most relevant documents. The work can keep going all night if you want it to.

Analytics can transform your business by providing insight into better work habits, giving you powerful details about your operations and delivering the right information quickly. You don’t need expensive solutions to make it happen. All you need is Office 365.

1 Ransbotham, S., Kiron, D. and Prentice, P.K. (2016, March 8). Beyond the Hype: The Hard Work Behind Analytics Success. Sas.com.

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