It’s been more than two decades since Microsoft’s now-ubiquitous suite of office productivity software was released. Although we’ve seen numerous free or low-cost alternatives arrive on the scene since then – OpenOffice.org, Google Docs and Zoho Docs to name a few – Microsoft Office still remains overwhelmingly dominant in this space.
Forrester reported two years ago that 80% of companies were running some version of Office, and this number hasn’t budged much. In a recent report, Forrester noted that all respondents were running Office, with 74% of IT departments saying they supported Microsoft Office 2003 or earlier. By contrast, only 8% said they utilize Google Docs and 1% were on Zoho Docs.
With cheaper alternatives available, what’s holding companies back from moving away from Microsoft’s offering?
For IT decision makers, the desire to rely less on Microsoft is simply not a very influential factor, as only 20% cited it as a primary driver. Much more important to the process of selecting this type of software is worker productivity. A majority (68%) of respondents said improving productivity was the main influence driving the adoption of solutions like Office.
As easy as it may sometimes be to dislike Office, it’s hard to deny that it has a pretty robust feature set. For as good as Web-based tools like Google Docs are, they only do a portion of what Office does. And while they accomplish the majority of commonly-needed tasks quite well and benefit from being based in the cloud, this is still not enough for many businesses.
Forrester predicts that as the competition continues to “close the functionality gap,” we should expect to see greater adoption of alternative suites like Google Docs. Meanwhile, forseeing this threat, Microsoft continues to expand its own Web-based offerings, with Office 365 recently going into public beta.
Eagerness to provide an office suite alternative also varies depending on the type of worker. A Web-based solution would be especially ideal for workers who travel extensively, such as sales reps, for example. IT decision makers said they’d be more likely to offer a solution to workers who edit documents only occasionally, as opposed to those whose jobs revolve more heavily around doing so.
The second most important factor cited by larger companies is the desire to cut costs. Obviously, for small businesses and nonprofits this is a much more significant consideration and as a result those organizations tend to be more likely to use Office alternatives.
Does your company use Microsoft Office or one of its competitors? What your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.