Connected company cars: BMW's mobile Office (365)

  • BMW's solution for working safely while on the move
  • Microsoft Office 365 integration including Skype for Business
  • Available for a wide range of BMW cars

Once there was a time when we thought computers would transform how we worked and give greater leisure time; in reality, the 21st century for many workers has become even more biased towards productivity, with the added frustration of congestion and long commutes.

Microsoft has the answer, and BMW’s bold new implementation of it will suit both the high achievers that are part of the aspirational dream where computers make leisure possible, and those who are fitting as much work as feasible into a reasonable working day, alike.

2018 BMW X5

Models like the new BMW X5 benefit from the same sort of investment in connectivity and entertainment as they do mechanical engineering, with iDrive now in version 7.0.

Microsoft Office 365 in your car?

In short, yes, though it’s biased towards the connectivity and organisation, rather than creative tools. Exchange synchronises contacts, emails and calendars with BMW Professional Navigation and Business Navigation for the 2018 range, and interaction is via iDrive’s mature user interface.

Email in your car: Is it safe?

In an era of penalties for mobile phone use and increased driver distractions as well as assistants, it could be viewed as counterproductive to put email right into the infotainment system. However, if the driver is the sort of person who relies on electronic communication to that extent, the chances are they will be tempted by the unread notification on their smartphone. Even if that’s in one of the frequent moments of stationary traffic in the UK it’s illegal and takes focus away from the car and surroundings.

2018 BMW X5 interior

A voice readout of unread mails, with eye-line visual display if necessary, and more importantly voice dictation of responses in natural English is therefore considerably safer. Chances are, if you can’t see the benefit of email in your car, you’ve got a working routine that means the distraction of the smartphone is also well under control.

Many company car drivers will have found solutions like this in Apple CarPlay (which costs £235 for BMW cars with the necessary level of Navigation to support it – Professional or Business – but does support wireless CarPlay) and Android Auto. It’s possible to dictate notes and some messenger replies via those systems, after all. The final step of integrating that information and feeding relevant data, such as destination address and times, into the car’s system is still disjointed; this is where Office integration comes in – an appointment in Outlook will provide contact and location data to your BMW seamlessly.

BMW ConnectDrive with Office 365 integration

Conferences in congestion: Skype for Business

Of most use to many professional drivers, the industry standard voice communication tool of Skype is also integrated. Appointments for group calls are automated, and Skype login for all onboard services is tied to an easily memorised and entered PIN.

Dial in is automatic, with data received from email or calendar sent to the paired mobile phone for connection.

What does BMW ConnectDrive with Microsoft Office 365 cost?

The service costs for ConnectDrive are reasonable – £80per year for concierge, for example, and £65 per year for Office 365 integration on top of your existing Office subscription. Many services are available for a £1 trial month subscription before choosing to sign up, too.

The hardware package needed varies in cost according to host model. For the company friendly BMW 3-series, Professional Navigation adds £840, or £1,440 if specified with full online services for three years and additional head-up display.