Office 2016 was enhanced extensively for both individual user and teams to work in a collaborative approach.

QUOTE: The newest version of Office is designed for consumer and business users alike. So, which new features will matter most in the enterprise? Here’s a look at the ones you’ll really want for work.

1. Planner — new addition to Office 365, is still in beta but is a key part of Microsoft’s collaborative vision for Office. Planner is a project management tool for managing tasks, deadlines, and progress for a group of workers. Many people create team schedules in apps such as Excel, which is a clumsy and static tool for keeping track of assignments and due dates for a large group.  The approach to Planner? Fewer words, more design. Graphs and charts show who is working on which assignments, how much progress they have made, and when their project is due. It adds an element of transparency into the group collaboration process.

2. Outlook: Clutter — For business customers, the day starts and ends in Outlook, said Shawn Villaron, group program manager for Office 365. One key focus in the development of Office 2016 was enabling productivity by making it easier to manage crowded inboxes. Clutter is a new capability designed to manage your inbox and automatically flag messages that you delete without reading. It should be noted that Clutter is not a spam filter. The tool doesn’t automatically hide notes from specific senders, Villaron explained. Rather, it’s supposed to learn your individual behavior and store messages it thinks you don’t want to read.

3. Outlook: Smart Attachments — A subtle feature that makes good use of the cloud in the new Office is Outlook’s smart attachment capability. When attaching a file to an email, you’ll see a list of recently used items in place of the traditional file dialogue. A small cloud icon next to the file indicates you’re not sending an actual file. Rather, you’re sending a URL so they can access the document in the cloud. This enables recipients to work on the most recent version of the document without sending several attachments between users.

4. Outlook: Groups — When the team works on a series of related documents over a long period of time this activity can be tracked. The final pattern requires a tool for exchanging several messages within a group, which prompted the creation of Groups. Outlook in Office 2016 has a Groups subhead along the left column where you can create or join groups of people and access messages specific to certain teams.

5. Delve — This is powered by Office Graph, which gathers and analyzes interactions among you and your coworkers in Office 365. For example, it will consider your frequent email contacts, who collaborates on documents with you, or who shares your manager. Based on this data, it recommends content relevant to your work.

6. Excel: Data Visualization —  Modern data visualization is a key business-friendly feature in Office 2016. In the updated Excel, you can highlight your data and select Insert for access to chart types and recommended charts. It’s easy to visualize data in different types of graphs and charts, such as tree and waterfall charts (pictured above).

7. Real-Time Co-Authoring And Skype — The most recent version of Microsoft Word gives you the ability to collaborate in real time with team members and provides visibility into who has recently accessed the document. The Office client apps have also been upgraded to include Skype integration, so you can call, IM, and video chat with colleagues to ask questions or talk about a project without leaving the app. Microsoft promises real-time co-authoring will be rolled out to all native apps.

8. Tell Me And Smart Lookup — Tell Me is handy for finding shortcuts to capabilities across Office apps. For example, if you want a specific graph in Excel, you can type its name into Tell Me, and it will change the depiction of the data set.  Smart Lookup leverages Bing to pull additional online information on content you’re using. For example, if you type the term “carbon dating” but only highlight “dating” for Smart Lookup to research, the tool will recognize the context to narrow down your search results and only include relevant content.