Organizations fail to maximize use of Microsoft 365 security features

While the majority of IT decision makers (88 percent) say they have ‘fully deployed’ Microsoft 365 in their organization, most have yet to adopt the software suite to its fullest extent, particularly the built-in security features, according to SoftwareONE.

Microsoft 365 security features

Most common applications

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most commonly used application was Outlook/Exchange (59 percent), followed by Microsoft Teams (41 percent) and Skype for Business (23 percent).

“Platforms such as Microsoft 365 are a big part of the drive to build a modern workplace, but the research shows organizations are only scratching the surface of what it can do,” commented Andy Dunbar, Technology Services Lead, SoftwareONE.

“Adopting any new technology involves considerable change and can be a challenge for even the most innovative of organizations – the fact that email is still the most popular application shows there is a missed opportunity when it comes to maximizing the investment made.

“Organizations need to go ‘under the hood’ of technology platforms and explore how they can make employees’ lives easier, because ultimately, they are paying for the full set of features regardless of whether or not they are using them.”

Challenges related to features

Looking at the challenges organizations face in encouraging employees to use all the available functions or applications within Microsoft 365, the most commonly cited by almost half of respondents (47 percent) is that employees are unsure which ‘apps’ they have access to and the corresponding benefits.

This was followed by resistance to change in the organization (34 percent) and not having enough time to provide enablement (29 percent). Moreover, just over a quarter (26 percent) are not measuring how Microsoft 365 is used; given the pace of today’s business world and the rapid rate at which technology develops, this is something organizations must address.

“Organizations should continually monitor how employees use software so they can identify neglected applications and provide the relevant enablement, focusing on user scenarios not just ‘how to’ guides,” said Dunbar.

“Microsoft 365 offers a number of features to facilitate collaboration and increase productivity, as well as out of the box reporting and analytics functions, which the research shows are underused by many. Such applications could transform how employees work day-to-day – using Microsoft Teams to reduce time spent managing email, for instance.

“Successful adoption of any new technology requires behavioral change and fundamentally finding different or new ways way of working, but if employees don’t know about these tools, organizations miss out on the productivity and collaboration benefits available.”

Microsoft 365 security features

Microsoft 365 (which includes Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security) also contains many integrated security features; the research finds that many organizations don’t know about these features or are failing to use them.

For example, 44 percent are not using Intune (device and application management), 37 percent are not using Azure Advanced Threat Protection (identifies, detects and investigates advanced threats), and 36 percent are not using Azure Information Protection (document protection).

Microsoft 365 security features

“Given the growth in remote and flexible working, and the widespread use of mobile devices, organizations should explore these security features further to mitigate risk while increasing ROI,” commented Dunbar.

“Most organizations have used traditional third-party security providers for many years, and are overlooking the consolidated security capabilities of platforms such as Microsoft 365. In practice, this means organizations using third party solutions are essentially paying twice for the same outcome.

“However, as they become confident that integrated features are robust enough to use, we expect to see adoption rise as users realize that integrated security features are a strong, cost-effective option.”

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