How Microsoft 365 continues to improve productivity: a look back and ahead

Tom Van ‘t Veld

At the beginning of this year, I started a new series of instructional videos for our online digital adoption platform, OASE. The topic? A new app within Microsoft 365 that was announced last November: Loop. It took me a while to figure out how to explain this in a fool-proof way. Loop is, after all, a pretty new concept.

It got me thinking about how Microsoft has changed the essence of the way we work, many times over the recent years. The more I thought about it and the more I looked into Loop, the more I got the sense that this new app may very well be the utmost logical next step in our modern, digital workplace.

Office 365 as a subscription service

When Microsoft came up with Office 365 in 2010, it wasn’t necessarily spectacularly new for the typical end user. It was basically the introduction of Office as a subscription service (just like we gladly pay for Netflix or Spofity services, today). Some promising new services were attached to Office 365 though, next to the ever useful ‘basics’ (Word, PowerPoint, Excel…): SharePoint and Lync (later Skype for Business). At Xylos, we knew we were onto something with our learning videos and courses, on our emerging OASE platform.

From SharePoint to OneDrive

Speaking of SharePoint, I remember it being one of the first really complex new tools to deal with. By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of the Cloud, at least in one way or another. Even if it’s just from storing files online instead of on a hard drive. When I personally first heard that I would soon be able to store and then access my files from anywhere, I felt a lot of excitement.

Then, a few years later, OneDrive appeared. It gave each end user their own place in the Cloud. Both applications could also be synchronized with your computer. Therefore, you would always have a backup of your data, and you could even save versions of your file. No more endless copies, from v2, v2_bis to v5_bis_Final. No more forwarding files via e-mail to get input from colleagues. For the first time, everything could be accessed from one central place.

An even bigger, more groundbreaking, change followed a little later: the ability to work in a file together from your own desktop applications. We could open a file together with several people and work in it simultaneously. The online versions already provided that option, of course. But both from my own user experience and from working with Xylos clients, I noticed that this was the real boost in the direction of true online collaboration.

The emergence of Teams

When Teams came around in 2017, in all honesty… It took some searching as to what we were going to use it for. It contained the capabilities of Yammer, of Skype, of SharePoint and many other cool applications, but it was not obvious right away how exactly it would change the way of working.

The rest is history. In the meantime, Microsoft Teams has been fully deployed and, as for our clients at least, adopted by end users in countless companies. It is safe to say that Teams is one of the most important applications people use every day. Chatting, meetings, collaborating on files, It all happens there.

Closing the loop with Microsoft Loop

As for Loop. Right now, its Components are only in the Chat section of Teams. You can use these to create text parts or lists that can be edited by everyone simultaneously. So, we’re no longer talking about an entire document we all get to work in real time. We’re now talking about specific parts or components in a document that can be edited. And these edits are synced in real time everywhere the component appears.

So let’s say, for example, you create a table with numbers and figures in a Teams chat with your colleague. You’re happy with it and decide to send it in an e-mail to your boss. You simultaneously send it in a Word document for your marketer, to write an article, let’s say. When your boss decides to modify the contents of that table, because she or he has new information – everyone is up-to-date, right away, without having to access the same file or document.

What Loop means moving forward

We will no longer work at the level of documents and files, but at the level of file components. I am truly very curious to see whether Loop will bring about yet another revolution in the way we work. In any case, the need for clear explanations on this subject will certainly not be lacking. Our digital adoption platform, OASE, where Microsoft Teams is currently the most viewed category, will be ready. And so will our digital coaches at Xylos.

Stay ahead of the digital learning curve

If  you want your people’s productivity to stay ahead of the digital learning curve, I recommend Xylos’ newest service: Productivity Camp. It’s the perfect way to discover the combined power of OASE and our digital coaching service. No matter what language the people in your modern workplace speak. We’ve got you covered.

Be sure to check it out.

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