Meet Google’s new secret weapon against Microsoft Office


Even with a recent study finding that Office 365 has become the single most widely-used cloud service in the enterprise, many organizations still rely on the traditional desk version of Microsoft Corp.’s productivity bundle for day-to-day work. That segment represents a massive untapped market that Google Inc. now hopes to snatch from under its rival’s nose.

The search giant plans to accomplish that through a new partnership with a low-key startup called SoftWatch Ltd. that promises to shave up to 90 percent off what companies spend on productivity tools for their employees. Standing behind that impressive figure is that simple fact that the typical worker doesn’t use Office all that much.

A survey of nearly 150 large enterprises SoftWatch published earlier this year found that less than 2 percent of employees use two or more applications in Microsoft’s suite to produce documents on a regular basis. The vast majority, 65 percent, fall into the category of what the startup refers to as “light users” who mainly use Office to view files from their peers and only occasionally perform editing.

Yet for lack of visibility into usage, organizations still purchase a full license for every employee, resulting in a massive gap between spending and utilization that SoftWatch offers to help shrink without the painful audits usually involved in such consolidation projects. Its service employs homegrown analytics technology to gauge the extent to which a workforce makes use of the Office keys at its disposal and calculates the precise number of cloud subscriptions needed to support its needs.

The difference for Brazil’s Netuno Internacional S/A amounted to 50 percent of its licensing fees, while veterinary health giant Ceva Sante Animale S.A. claims to have saved an even more impressive 80 percent using SoftWatch’s service. The startup has a list more than a dozen other high-profile customers listed on its site that the new partnership with Google is set to expand considerably.

The search giant will now have its salesforce and resellers actively push the SoftWatch’s service to organizations considering to adopt Google Apps for Work in an effort to make its value proposition more persuasive. But while that might help its representatives win over a bigger number of organizations from Microsoft’s on-premise install base, the company still faces an uphill battle against Office 365, which is showing no sign of slowing down.

Photo via giografiche