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Three new Office 365 features add security, productivity insights

Three new capabilities on the docket for Office 365 include better security for cloud and mobile platforms, along with a way for Office users to analyze their productivity.

It was clear from conversations with attendees at Microsoft's Ignite 2016 conference that IT executives are well versed in what Office 365 has to offer, and now they need features to improve security, lower their cost and make their employees more agile.

With that, some of the updates Microsoft rolled out were simply an expansion of successful Office 365 features, including Azure Information Protection, a new Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite and MyAnalytics for Office 365.

Azure Information Protection

With the capabilities available within Information Rights Management in SharePoint Online, Microsoft introduced Azure Rights Management Services to protect client data beyond the basics and offer end users the ability to restrict the interactions with the data. Microsoft took that a step further with Azure Information Protection, which will be generally available later this year. The new tool is made up of technology from the acquisition of Secure Islands plus an automation layer for content classification to further protect data in the cloud.

Some of the capabilities in Azure Information Protection include:

  • The ability to classify, label and protect data at the time of creation or modification.
  • Persistent protection that travels with data so it is protected at all times, regardless of device type, operating system or where it is stored.
  • Secure sharing of data with internal users or with external customers and partners.

Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite

When Microsoft added mobile device management (MDM) to Exchange, administrators faced a full mobile device wipe when they needed to remove company email from a user's mobile device. Since then, Microsoft added a small subset of its Intune MDM features to Office 365. The success of those Office 365 features has encouraged IT executives to adopt Microsoft Intune with advanced MDM capabilities as well as desktop management in the Enterprise Mobility Suite bundle.

A new version with security enhancements, called Enterprise Mobility + Security E3, is expected to be generally available in Q4. With more advanced security components from the security in E5, as well as the new Identity Protection and Privileged Identity Management capabilities, the bundle brings more security features to organizations.

Individual and team productivity insights

Delve Analytics in the Office 365 Enterprise E5 plan has been rebranded to MyAnalytics and is available as an add-in for other Office 365 plans. The tool gives employees a way to track how they spend their time at work but also acts as a place to store and share files along with information on contacts, projects and more.

For example, MyAnalytics for Outlook provides insight into email you send to at least five people; the add-in shows the number of people who have read, forwarded and replied to your email, along with a lifespan chart showing the email's read activity -- though it won't tell you which recipient read the message. For email you've received, the add-in provides information about your relationships with the sender, including the number of email messages you've exchanged, your average response times and the percent of their email messages you have actually read, according to Microsoft.

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