INSIGHT ARTICLE

How IT can create a modern workplace

Seven ways a secure, cloud-based collaboration platform increases productivity

SUMMARY

In the modern workplace, there are no longer barriers to collaboration. Employers around the world now embrace the power of ubiquitous connectivity with collaborative platforms that combine the power of integrated chat, shared documents and calendars to increase productivity.

In the modern workplace, there are no longer barriers to collaboration. Employers around the world now embrace the power of ubiquitous connectivity with collaborative platforms that combine the power of integrated chat, shared documents and calendars to increase productivity.

If you’re using or considering Microsoft 365, you may not be aware just how secure this collaborative capacity is. Microsoft 365 includes built-in enterprise-level security settings and compliance controls that allow employees to work wherever they want, on whatever device they prefer, with minimal risk. This automated approach to security doesn’t rely on user actions to ensure maximum protection against potential threats.

To enhance the existing security in Microsoft 365 and fully leverage its benefits, companies can follow these seven key steps: 

  1. Identify and correct gaps in your baseline security.
  2. Take a zero-trust approach to security.
  3. Move essential workloads into the cloud.
  4. Provide training and education.
  5. Replace disparate, siloed applications with a unified platform.
  6. Modernize the application-level workflow.
  7. Provide advanced security that includes compliance, retention policies, encryption and more.

Here’s a closer look at each step and how they can help you improve your security:  

Step 1: Identify and correct gaps in your baseline security

Your company should begin by assessing security gaps across your organization and redirect user behavior to avoid them. Even routine, day-to-day activities can put your company at risk. For example, many businesses still rely on email to complete tasks that can be accomplished using modern collaboration tools and at a minimum, provide policies that direct and permit users to leverage the platform in a manner that is suitable for managing your risk tolerance. This gap analysis may start with Secure Score by Microsoft within your tenant.

Step 2: Take a zero-trust approach to security

Traditional approaches to network security have attempted to create a perimeter within which trusted, credentialed users could have wide access. But today’s networks extend far beyond such centralized control. To address this situation, the most secure approach is to adopt a zero-trust posture that goes to beyond user credentials to leverage intelligence that ensures security. Such an approach considers geographic location, device and other key criteria before granting access. If the system identifies anomalous activity, it can restrict access in real time or revoke it entirely.  By operating in an “assumed breach” model, you have more layers of policy and monitoring signals to address issues and permit appropriate access controls.

Step 3: Move essential workloads into the cloud

Take advantage of anytime/anywhere accessibility by utilizing cloud-based data sharing and collaboration tools. Microsoft 365 allows your users to work together from any location on any device, delivering even better productivity gains. With a cloud-based tool, users can easily chat, meet, collaborate on apps, share content and co-author documents in real-time in a shared, secure channel.

Step 4: Provide training and education

A new platform will always require some employee onboarding. Seek the assistance of outside experts who can help your staff understand how the technology works and why it’s important. For instance, RSM provides customer immersion experiences that walk your staff through a day in the life of various employees, providing training and thought leadership throughout the process. Once the vision is widely understood, RSM begins data migration in tandem with user and admin training. 

Step 5: Replace disparate, siloed applications with a unified platform

Is your company using a cohesive set of applications for daily tasks, or do you still get work done by accessing a grab bag of solutions? For instance, are some people using Teams for document collaboration while others are still emailing documents back and forth, creating multiple versions of the same file, which can lead to confusion and errors? Collaborating through the same shared platform means your teams can more easily share data, ensure security and streamline processes. It also eliminates information silos so users are annotating, editing and sharing one document—creating a single source of truth for the entire organization.

Step 6: Modernize the application-level workflow

Once your employees are comfortable with their new Microsoft 365 apps, they can begin to explore the intelligent automation tools and develop their own workflow automations. With the Microsoft Power Automate app, your employees can streamline repetitive tasks and develop paperless processes so they can focus their attention where it’s needed most.

Step 7: Provide advanced security that includes compliance, retention policies, encryption and more

Organizations need systems that comply with their security standards and data retention policies. Modern collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft 365, allow for enterprise control of data. In this zero-trust model, every access request is fully authenticated, authorized and encrypted before being granted. By applying micro-segmentation and least-privilege access principles, you can minimize lateral movement within the data environment, while rich intelligence and analytics help you detect and respond to anomalies in real time.

Summary

The modern workplace is a reality—one that’s a key driver of digital transformation and competitive advantage. The key to the developing and maintaining this workplace is a security-first approach that lets users share data, work remotely and collaborate freely without having security concerns hinder their workflow.

Microsoft 365 is built from the ground up with the modern workplace in mind. A trusted advisor can help your organization get the most out of it by implementing and configuring its built-in security and collaborative tools. They can also help onboard and train employees to take advantage of advanced toolsets, and manage your deployment so you can focus on work that matters.

Learn more about how RSM can help you get the most out of Microsoft 365.

Speak to an RSM Microsoft advisor today!

Geoff Hopkins

Principal