Bitglass Report: Microsoft Office 365 is disrupting the Google Apps disruptor

Some would call it poetic justice, others a simple reflection of marketplace dynamics. Call it what you will, recent survey findings will have Microsoft execs rubbing their hands together in glee.

Less than a decade ago, Microsoft was seen very much as a company denying the validity of the cloud. Its Office tools were a good example of this and steadfastly ignored industry trends in terms of rapid iteration, cloud delivery and subscription business models.

Where Microsoft ignored realities, Google was quick to move, and Google Apps grew rapidly for very good reason — it was the only office productivity suite (ignoring, for a moment, outlier products like Zoho) that delivered cloud-ready solutions on a subscription pricing model.

The world, or at least Microsoft's world, has, however, turned. Microsoft is now strongly embracing this new way of working. Office 365 is very much a cloud-first product. The mobile versions are fully functional. Microsoft's own, as well as competitive, cloud-based file-sharing products are integrated into the solution, and Microsoft is following innovative new subscription-based billing models.

Given the fact that Microsoft has seemingly turned on a dime, it is interesting to take a look at usage surveys to see whether this new approach is paying dividends for the company. A new survey by cloud security vendor Bitglass quickly dispels any thoughts about Microsoft's failure to capture the hearts and minds of the buying public: adoption of Office 365 has surged ahead of that  enjoyed by Google.

The findings, part of Bitglass' annual cloud adoption report, show a dramatic coup by Microsoft Office 365, which overtook Google for the lead in cloud email and productivity since last year’s report. Office 365 adoption grew more than 300%, to 25.2% of enterprises, compared to just 7.7% last year. The report draws on the automated, cloud-based analysis of real-world traffic data from nearly 120,000 organizations globally. The focus of the report includes major enterprise cloud applications, including Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, SalesForce and Box.

It needs to be pointed out that Google hasn't stood still this year — even with the scales tipping toward Microsoft, Google is still growing its enterprise user base, up to 22.8% from 16.3% last year. Overall, nearly half (48%) of enterprises are using cloud-based productivity and email suites.

Other findings show that overall adoption of cloud-based email in organizations with more than 1,000 employees rose drastically, from 18% to 57%. Meanwhile, organizations with fewer than 500 employees nearly doubled, from 24% to 44% during the past year. In regulated industries, organizations with more than 1,000 employees showed great interest in Google Apps and Office 365. Since 2014, Google Apps has shown a 200% increase (from 5% to 15%) and Office 365 has observed a stellar 500% increase (from 5% to 30%).

There are two key takeaways from this survey. On the bigger-picture side of things, clearly cloud-based office productivity is on the rise and will continue to be the default way of delivering these sort of applications. On the vendor side of things, however, it is a troubling report from Google's perspective and it strikes me that Google is unlikely to have anything up its sleeve to reverse this trend.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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