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Outlook Web App: the benefits for your business

Posted on 3/4/2013 by Richard Towey

One of the requirements of the modern day businessman is to be mobile. Pros in any field must be flexible in their day-to-day role, while being able to respond to requests in a timely and efficient manner. 

If you're in charge of an operation or department, you can ensure your own members of staff are moving with the times by incorporating mobile technology into their jobs. It's for this exact reason why tablets, smartphones and laptops along with tools like the Outlook Web App (OWA) are proving so popular in the corporate arena.

In fact, given the reliance that every employee and employer has on email or mobile messaging, introducing OWA to an organisation is hardly the most radical of moves - it just makes sense. If you're not sure what Microsoft's webmail service can offer your business, here's what could be in it for you:

What is it

Forming part of Microsoft's Exchange Server (versions 5.0 or later), OWA allows you to access business email from any computer with an internet connection.

Everything's the same yet you're connecting remotely via web browser, not through the Microsoft Outlook application you'll find on your computer at work. So you can still read and send messages, organise contacts, access the calendar to create tasks, schedule meetings and open Office-supported documents, only you're not at work. You're actually wherever you want to be, which is the real prize on offer.

Added features

Aside from being able to sift through messages from a remote location, OWA also contains a number of additional features to help workers in their day-to-day role.

Out of Office replies, for example, can be used to set a custom response whenever you plan on being away from the software for an extended period. You've also got the Rules Wizard for setting up custom email actions for incoming or outgoing messages and Task Management for setting up recurring tasks. Such features prove that even when Outlook is accessed by a smartphone, its capabilities are by no means compromised.    

Clear advantages

For consumers, mobile email is a pretty handy way of organising their personal life. In the world of business, it opens up a wealth of opportunities.   

All companies should by now have woken up to the benefits of remote working and found some way to offer their staff the chance to ply their trade out of office. While this allows a service to run as normal when certain forms of transport are affected by the weather, employees generally appreciate the flexibility that remote access gives them. Personal events are less likely to hamper productivity as there's always the option of working from home, although detaching someone from their desk is a benefit in itself.      

Suddenly, tools like OWA transform those awkward 20 minute time periods spent at hotels and train stations into vital gaps for keeping up with affairs at base camp. Millions of businesses have seen value in such tools and their adoption is contributing to the rise of the mobile workplace.

And the bigger picture

For businesses that have seen their work habits evolve from a communication focus to a collaboration focus, OWA should form part of the bigger picture that is Exchange 2013.

Microsoft's latest addition to its line of collaborative messaging servers allows users to merge email contacts from a wide range of sources in order to provide one single view of their profile. This aids organisation for the employee, while improved integration with Microsoft SharePoint through mailboxes makes it easier to download and access documents from wherever they please.

Outlook Web App is also packed into the Exchange offering and this ties in nicely with full support for mobile devices running Apple's iOS, Google's Android and Windows operating systems. No special apps need to be downloaded for multi-endpoint support, while Outlook Web Appp has a common interface across all platforms.

So if you're considering what remote working can do for your own company, Outlook Web App through Exchange 2013 has to be one of the first places to start.