Tel Aviv-based SaaS analytics provider SoftWatch announced a global agreement with Google yesterday in which Google will market SoftWatch’s proprietary Application Analytics to its worldwide customer base as a means of convincing MS Office users to adopt Google’s cloud based Google Apps for Work.

SoftWatch co-CEOs Uri Arad and Moshe Kozlovski noted in a statement that they were "excited to work with Google and provide insightful usage information to decision makers who are planning and executing an adoption of cloud based productivity suites."

The 80/20 Rule

SoftWatch buttressed its partnership announcement by releasing its new MS Office Benchmark study that tracks application usage patterns for 400,000 employees at 146 companies ranging in size from 30,000 to 200 employees.

The findings, which updated results from a smaller SoftWatch study published last year, segmented MS Office users into four categories, ranging from light to heavy. The results showed:

  • 80 percent of MS Office users used only four basic components of the suite: Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint
  • Except for the near ubiquitous daily usage of Outlook, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of all users fell into the Light User category for Excel, Word and PowerPoint
  • Excel accounted for the greatest number of heavy users at 23 percent, followed by Word at 9 percent and PowerPoint at only 2 percent

Cutting Licensing Costs

Google is betting that SoftWatch’s study results will provide compelling evidence for both current and prospective Google customers to re-think the cost of their current MS Office licensing agreements.

"SoftWatch analyses clearly show that for the vast majority of employees in businesses today, an Office license is overkill,” said Sebastien Marotte, Vice President, Google Apps for Work.

"This agreement will allow us to bring the message of using Application Usage Analytics as a key enabler for making informed decisions, optimizing resources [and] and executing a transition to cloud based productivity suites, " agreed Arad and Kozlovski.

All Aboard the Cloud

The deal also gives Google turnkey access to the three-step onboarding structure that SoftWatch has put in place to help enterprise MS Office users make informed decisions when considering a transition to Google Apps.

SoftWatch’s process begins with a personalized applications usage analysis which feeds into the creation of a personalized usage based transition plan grounded in user segmentation insights.

If and when a transition plan is executed, SoftWatch continues to serve in a monitoring and management capacity to ensure both the smooth adoption of Google Apps and the optimization of MS Office license spending going forward.

Savings Without Trauma

Kozlovski maintains SoftWatch customers typically save between 50 and 70 percent on their licensing expenditures and, what’s more, their transitions to cloud-based productivity suites are normally far less traumatic than originally feared.

After all, he argues, if 80 percent of MS office users are not using advanced features, they can move rather easily to alternative cloud based solutions.

“We see that most people are only using one package out of the office suite if they are using it at all,” Kozlovski noted.

“It raises the question of what is the best business model here. Should you abandon [MS Office], should you buy [the full license for every employee] or should you just buy what you need?”

Customer Flexibility Ahead

Has Google’s SoftWatch deal leapfrogged Microsoft?

Unlikely, says Kozlovski. “I think this is a great conclusion for the market [overall] because [the future lies in] moving easily to the cloud.”

And Microsoft may already have made the first move with with its recent release of Office 2016, which will now become the standard for the cloud-based Office 365.

One implication of the SoftWatch deal is certain: It’s game on between Google and Microsoft in the productivity suite market and as the two giants jockey for position, customers will be the beneficiaries of lower costs, greater flexibility and enhanced productivity.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  Title image by Kansas Poetry (Patrick).