Third-Party Apps Major Selling Point for Google Apps Over Microsoft Office: Report

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IT administrators are overwhelmingly satisfied with Google Apps, and the changing nature of business networks may threaten the dominance of Microsoft Office, according to a survey released this week.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents are “satisfied” or “highly-satisfied” with Google Apps, and third-party apps are bolstering the popularity of Google Apps service. Almost half of respondents reported that third-party apps helped their organization adopt the cloud, and one-third reported that third-party apps from the Google Apps Marketplace were very important in their move to the service.

The 2014 State of the Google Apps Ecosystem report was conducted by research firm Frost & Sullivan in conjunction with the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps, and is based on interviews with over one thousand Google Apps admins and end users.

BYOD policy is also effecting the competition between apps and Microsoft Office. Eighty-three percent work in organizations with supportive BYOD policies, and 60 percent of end users say they are responsible for choosing web applications for the workplace. Sixty percent are even willing to spend their own money on apps which optimize their work experience. This shift from use of the software on the corporate network to mobile devices and “Shadow IT” threatens Microsoft’s long-standing dominance.

The report suggests that 58 percent of IT admins either no longer support Microsoft Office or are slowing its use in their organizations. While the results may be different if the pool of respondents included non-Google Apps users, it is clear that Office is not considered the indispensable tool it once was. Sixty-one percent of those continuing to invest in Office cite end-user demand as the reason why, suggesting that historical popularity and the resulting comfort level are Microsoft’s main advantage.

“User expectations continue to shift from the traditional Microsoft Office experience to one of continuous productivity in which people can work whenever, wherever, and with whomever they need,” Mark Mader, President and CEO of Smartsheet and member of the Cloud Alliance said. “The cloud-first and BYOA trends are driving forces behind the adoption of many third-party products and the erosion of Microsoft Office’s monopoly.”

This shift is also making Google services more important, as nearly two-thirds say Google plays an important part in their IT infrastructure, and 29 percent place it at the core of corporate IT. IT administrators install 10 apps from the Google Apps Marketplace on average, and 71 percent want increased integration between apps from Google and third parties.

Google updated third-party apps last year to improve security.

Microsoft Office is not exactly about to fade away; Zynstra launched a hybrid offering for SMBs earlier this week with Office 365 integration. Last week Parallels announced that its customers have installed Microsoft tools including Office 365 to over one million seats.

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