Google Apps have garnered interest ever since the company introduced its online tools back in 2006. While some organizations standardized on Google Apps, in many cases they used Google’s capabilities as an adjunct to Microsoft Office, not a replacement.
Now the real contender to replace Office is on the scene. It’s not Google Apps or iWork or even a competitor’s product. It’s Microsoft Office 365.
With its introduction in 2006, Google Apps was certainly the first cloud-based office software on the scene. Nonetheless, Office 365 has already bypassed it, according to Forrester Research. About one fifth of organizations use cloud-based office tools, says Forrester, and another 25% plan to. Relative newcomer Office 365 is used by 14% while Google Apps trails with 9%.
According to Microsoft, luxury carmaker Aston Martin has adopted Office 365, having rolled it out to more than 1,000 employees, and is quite happy with the online Office suite. Companies like Louisiana-based healthcare firm Schumacher Group that were early adopters of Google Apps are now taking a second look at moving to Office 365. And the US Department of Defense has inked a policy that allows US DoD services or agencies to choose either of the office suites under a blanket purchase agreement.
The first transition to working in the cloud is often email. A survey from UK-based publication Computing found that 37% of those moving their email to the cloud are adopting Office 365 versus about 15% for Google. This isn’t too surprising considering that the dominant enterprise email platform is Microsoft Outlook. The prospect of no longer administering Microsoft Exchange inhouse is attractive to many IT departments and is a key driver for Office 365 adoption.
Another factor in Office 365’s favor is its compatibility with desktop-based Office. When Computing asked whether they were more likely to select a cloud-based office suite that was compatible with offline versions, 66% responded positively, with 26% stating that it’s a requirement not a preference.
In truth, even at organizations where Google Docs is in use, Office remains a workhorse used for most purposes. Now that collaborative editing has been added to Office Web Apps, there will be even less reason for users to turn to Google apps than there has been.
If your migration to Office 365 is a foregone conclusion, the question becomes: what will the move to Office 365 mean to IT? Moving your workforce from Office to Office 365 has real implications [DC1] for how you manage IT, your network requirements, and security.
What are your Office 365 plans? We’d love to hear from you.