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When I arrived in Toronto for the first time last Friday, I was hit by the buzz and vibrancy of this great City. I made sure I had the chance to visit Niagra Falls and the CN Tower, but then it was a Monday kick off with Satya, CEO of Microsoft.

This has been only my second global conference as one of Microsofts top Gold UK partners and I was fortunate to be in the company of the Microsoft global and UK leadership teams, as well as 20,000 committed Microsoft partners from around the globe. 

SatyaPhoto: @FlintfoxIntl

What I would like to share with you in this blog is just some of the key takeaways that customers, colleagues, and friends of ACS should all give thought to and be aware of...

1. Driving productivity and efficiency with the great Office 365 

If you are looking to drive productivity and efficiencies within your business then Office365 with all it's new features is a must! Equally, if you already have Office365 but are not using all the workloads, such as OneNote, Skype, Delve, BI...then call the ACS team for a free demonstration. Oh, big change for Office 365 - you can now pay monthly for licensing to avoid large capital outlays, and you can scale up and scale down as and when your business needs it. Add INK with the Surface 4 laptop/desktop/tablet and colleagues will have the ability to quickly edit, co-author and highlight changes like never before on 365...seeing really is believing.  

2. Intelligent working with CRM Online and BI 

Clearly, some businesses locally and globally are embracing change and overtaking the competition as a result. When I started in IT 26 years ago, standalone and simple networks for storing client and company data was the norm. Today, the winners have moved from mobile and web devices to educating customers on how to use the Cloud and data in order to be more intelligent with client understanding, marketing and every other aspect of the business. CRM Online and new business intelligence software (BI) is another inexpensive game changer to help compete with the larger enterprises in our fields. Great dashboards and intelligence not previously available make it easy to extract intelligent, live data from your business.

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3. Simple efficiency with Skype

We know that Skype is a great solution for sharing video calls, instant messages and sharing your desktop with clients for presentations. But do you subscribe to webex and other chargeable services? Relatively new, Skype broadcast gives you this functionality within Outlook, within your subscription, and it allows you to have internal meetings across various colleague locations and of course, webinars with clients around the UK and abroad. Simple and easy to use.

4. E5 is here! 

One of the biggest game changers for the UK...we will have voice in the long-awaited E5 platform from Microsoft. Hosted voice, which you pay monthly that is integrated with Outlook and Skype. This platform is designed to be simple to use and create time savings for your business as employees can work from anywhere. Already, as I sit in Starbucks, Toronto, I am an example that work is what we do, not where we go! Security and analytics are embedded to another level, which with cyber-security as it currently stands is another strong proposition as to why this solution can add game-changing value to your business.

At ACS, we are planning our E5 Voice deployment and welcome meetings in the coming weeks with anyone that would like to discuss how E5 can help their business. 

5. Scale & growth with Azure 

Azure has exploded in its adoption over the last 12 months. Why buy a server when you can have what compute from Microsoft in minutes? Always up to date, always available, always able to scale. Why buy a DR solution when you can have Azure Site Recovery for a fraction of normal DR investments? Azure is being used by small businesses, right through to 80% of Fortune 500 companies for backup, DR, Site Recovery, identity and more. The price is compelling over traditional solutions for managing and securing your data and by adding Azure's flexibility to your infrastructure you can turn the dial up or down' to give improved performance as your business needs. Paired with other Office 365 tools you can pull live, intelligent data from your business and start to reinvent your business knowledge like never before. 

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6. Security, security, security

With so many daily attacks on our businesses, Microsoft has become one of the most trusted platforms for security. Sony, Home Depot, and thousands of small and mid-market businesses would have avoided these security breaches like cryptolocker and ransom ware with Windows 10. As of next month you can buy monthly. In my opinion, every business needs to move to Windows 10. The risks that we face if we don't are too great for any business!

gwenPhoto: @EricSaillard

So, that is my summary of the week at WPC. The last thing I would say is that if you would like help in building a Cloud Strategy for your business or would like to challenge and maximise on your current Cloud Strategy, just give me a call on 01604 704 014, or email me at jont@acs365.co.uk and I would be happy to help. 

Special and personal highlights from my week here in Toronto would include the Gwen Stefani concert, James Whittaker "The Storyteller", the insights into the investments made and planned, and meeting some great Microsoft partners from around the globe.

partnersukPhoto: @GlennWoolaghan

The UK team have been great hosts and the UK partners, as always, great company.

Thankyou!

#WPC16 @mspartnersuk

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