Larger Companies Still Wary Of Adopting Google Docs

Larger Companies Still Wary Of Adopting Google Docs

Obviously we love Google Docs around here for its free storage, easy sharing and collaborative features. But while Google likes to boast every time it attracts a major corporate user, market research suggests that an enormous majority of businesses are still favouring Microsoft’s Office suite.

In a presentation at Gartner’s Infrastructure & Operations Data Centre summit in Sydney today, Gartner analyst Annette Jump noted that just 1% of Gartner clients were using Google Docs at the end of 2010. The most popular option? The aging (but ribbon-free) Microsoft Office 2003, which is still used by 57% of those asked, followed by 2007 with 39%. And even when Docs is chosen, it isn’t necessarily a replacement, as Jump explained:

About 2% of businesses in the installed base are planning to run Google Docs by the end of this year. In many cases those are not run as a replacement for Office, but as an additional resource.

Obviously Gartner’s client base — large enterprise users — is conservative in adopting new technologies, and those figures wouldn’t include “unofficial” use of Google’s services (or Microsoft’s free online alternatives) by individual workers. Nonetheless, it’s a sobering reminder that jumping to cloud-based apps isn’t going to happen in a hurry, no matter how seemingly obvious the benefits.


  • I work as an IT consultant, so part of my job is to make recommendations like this to businesses. Conservatism is only part of the problem. You’d be surprised at how un-conservative a lot of companies are these days.

    The main problem is control over documents. Companies are reluctant to turn over all their secret documentation to a 3rd party company, no matter how secure and trustworthy it appears to be. Nothing beats having 100% control over the document yourself. A lot of people bring up the argument of banks. Companies have no issues turning over all their money to a 3rd party. The difference is regulation and safety nets. There are no laws protecting the access and security of Google Docs information. Also for a lot of companies, these documents are worth more than the cash they have in the bank. Flip the situation around and ask yourself, would Google be willing to upload the full details of their search algorithm to a service run by another company? No matter how good it looks, in the minuscule chance that information leaked out, Google’s core business would be destroyed.

    There are several ways to deploy a cloud based document authoring system internally and control the hardware yourself. However, the costs of these usually don’t match the benefit. You get a lot of the same benefits by utilizing team collaboration systems which give a lot of the same benefits as google docs (cloud storage of documents). They also give additional features like task allocation and progress tracking, project planning, etc. However, they dont provide authoring capabilities, they are just a way to collaborate and share documents through a cloud, so Microsoft Office is still needed to do the document editing.

    • Seconded. I’d jump for google docs in a second except for two factors:

      1) We have government contracts that stipulate how much control we need over all our documents. Having them hosted by a third party who can’t point out the specific server used is a no-go, so we mostly stick with internally hosted.

      2) We have a fairly high ratio of rote-learners. It’s tricky to force all users to swap interfaces when they’ll take nearly a year to get to grips with it again.

      • In addition to the concerns mentioned with trusting a 3rd party to keep your data, there is actually a 4th party: the US government.

        The legal requirements of State Records acts around Australia can usually be satisfied by having a nightly copy of data sent back to Australian soil, or sometimes simply by having a proper commercial agreement about data availability. However the Patriot Act in the USA gives their government organisation to both read the data at their leisure and to prevent the data owner from having access to it.

        Google in their current infrastructure can not guarantee that Google Docs documents for data will not reside in the US, which makes it fall in the domain on the Patriot Act.

        I’d like to point out that I am not a lawyer (really! :-), but I have worked for ECM vendors with government clients, and am currently working for Macquarie University on several related projects in this space.

        We have for example rolled out GMail for everyone (staff and students), as we had Google agree to only store our data on EU servers (and AU eventually if they build a data-centre here). Since Google Docs can not support this, we only allowed it to undergraduate students but not for staff.

    • Edward, the source of the information is very clearly indicated in the story — “In a presentation at Gartner’s Infrastructure & Operations Data Centre summit in Sydney today”. The majority of what we run at Lifehacker is original content, and if there’s not a source article indicated, that means we’ve written and researched it ourselves.

  • Well I don’t find this surprising at all really. Sure Google Docs is a nice tool and all, but it’s not a replacement for Office. There are features of office not found in Google Docs, and probably won’t ever be found in Google Docs.

    Things like external data sources, such as SQL/Oracle RDB, OLAP data, ERP/CRM intermediaries.

    When planning for large scale software deployments you plan to have similar systems across as many desks as possible to reduce your overall TCO/support costs. If even say 5 people in a team need some advanced features of Office not available in Google Docs then you’ve got a pretty hard decision to make, do you roll out Google Docs to all and handle the Office users as a case-by-case requirement, or do you roll out Office to all and ensure the same support model across all users.

    Also there is considerable cost in translating all your existing documents into Google Doc formats. I just tried importing a spreadsheet I use at work into Google Docs and it made it completely un-usable. All it would take is for a CIO/CTO to try the same thing for them to cross Google Docs off the list of options.

  • I work for a Software Development company. They’re looking to move as much as possible to Google Apps. This includes email and all document management.

    Yet they wont move their source code to ‘the cloud’.

    Which is most important to a software development company?

    Customer details / communication / billing.
    Internal documentation and marketing.
    Source code

    Hint, all 3 are equal.

  • Question — will BYOD tablets running Pages, Apple’s word processing app, Numbers, Keynote, Penultimate, QuickOffice Pro HD, Notability and Splashtop Remote Desktop change this equation? Will tablet users using $10-20 productivity apps force these new, lower-cost, apps into the enterprise, at the the expense of Office and Office 365?

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