March 14, 2013
Recently I was sent a link to some survey results from BetterCloud. BetterCloud is a company making management and security tools for Google Apps – they recently raised $5M in venture funding and have tools deployed across 15000 companies and six million users. Anyway – BetterCloud often runs surveys on its customer base to get an idea of current and future trends. Obviously the results tend to be Google-centric, the company is a Google Apps partner after all, but one statistic from their recent survey grabbed my attention.
When asked how they would characterize their organization’s strategy towards using and supporting Microsoft Office products, there is an increasingly large number of organizations actively looking to minimize their investment in Microsoft Office. When one considers that Microsoft Office has been the dominant office productivity suite since it was released in 1990 – that is of real worry to Redmond.
60% of Google Apps customers are minimizing further investment in MS Office, further it seems that the longer customers have been with Google Apps, the less likely they are to continue investing in MS Office licenses – 64% of respondents who have been on Google Apps for 2+ years said that they are minimizing further investment in MS Office.
In his analysis of the results, BetterCloud CEO David Politis said that he felt there are several factors contributing to the declining investment in and lack of reliance on MS Office:
- Adoption – broader adoption of the Google Apps suite is eliminating the need for similar software outside of Google
- Compatibility – Google continues to improve compatibility between MS Office products (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, meaning users can do business with an organization still operating on MS Office without having to use Office themselves
- There is a generational shift occurring – as educational institutions continue to adopt Google Apps, the proportion of young people familiar with MS Office continues to decline. According to Politis a new generation is “growing up Google” and will want to use software they’re familiar with when they enter the workforce.
Of course in his analysis, Politis omits to make any mention of Office 365, the launch of the more subscription friendly and web-savvy Office 2013 and the benefits that Microsoft’s acquisition and eventual integration of enterprise social software Yammer might have on enterprises’ willingness to continue using Microsoft products. It’s undeniable that Microsoft has matured significantly in the past few years since it disputed the validity of cloud completely and continues to push its “software plus services” approach. Those days have gone and a very different Microsoft exists today. I suspect this trend of moving away from Office will slow as the company further advances its cloud thinking – tools like CloudOn that give users of Office the ability to use the product on iOS devices will further reinforce the Office franchise.
The bottom line is that, until recently, organizations that wanted to empower their employees with a mobile ready office productivity suite were poorly served by Office – they had little option but to look to other vendors. Those days have gone and Office is gradually becoming a compelling web product – if you’re a Microsoft shop already, you’ll think twice about migrating off Office if it meets your needs – both on-premise and mobile.