2011: The Year in Review

There’s something about the holiday season that makes me stop and reflect. In looking back, a lot has happened this year: the passing of Steve Jobs, the impact of social media on the Arab Spring, and ability for tweeters to better secure flights in tornado-ravaged areas.

Tracking both unfortunate and hopeful happenings, technology has never been more immediate, more accessible and more important for me day-to-day and moment-to-moment. So, as 2011 comes to a close, I’ll spotlight several developments that shaped the Microsoft Office Division and the productivityspace this year.

We’ve had amazing results . Despite Dave Girouard’s 2009 prediction, people aren’t getting rid of Office. In fact, Office 2010 became the fastest-selling version ever. Interestingly, as Google exec’s exalted all things cloud, a funny thing happened: Exchange, SharePoint and Lync all grew by double digits. Why is that? Businesses realized that a one-step move to the cloud wasn’t going to happen for them this year. They had existing investments in infrastructure, in information and in people and chose to gradually transition to cloud services where it made sense for them. They chose Microsoft for its choice of on-premises and cloud-based productivity solutions, often electing a mix of both.

Office 365 is the preferred solution for cloud productivity winning accolades and advocates among reviewers, customers and partners. The familiar Office look and feel, rich features, offline editing; and the unified communications experience that Lync Online provides with presence, click to call and online meetings, spur more organizations to move to the cloud with Office 365. In fact, more than 40 percent of the global Interbrand list of the 100 top brands use Office 365 or related cloud productivity services from Microsoft. Among the new customers are Campbell Soup Company, Groupe Marie-Claire, American Red Cross, and Tata Steel Europe.

Build it and they will come. – Small businesses flock to Office 365. In the nearly five years that Google Apps have been on the market, the company has struggled to gain traction in the enterprise space. 

However, despite the reluctance many large businesses had about ‘going Google’, smaller companies were willing to make the move in order to take advantage of the benefits the cloud offers. Many small businesses moved to Google Apps because Microsoft didn’t have a way for them to move to the cloud until recently. What a difference a few months make. Today, more than 90% of Office 365 customers are businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Based on early results, Office 365 is on track to be the fastest growing business product in Microsoft’s history.

Lync becomes a game changer in the Unified Communications space
Over and over this year, Lync has been in the news and reviews. Telecom adopts UC. Retiring PBX systems, the number 3 wireless carrier in the US, Sprint  transitioned to unified communications through Lync for major savings. Again and again, Office 365 customers raved about Lync-- the convenience, the freedom, the cost savings, the ease, the instant video conferencing. I use Lync every day and in the Office division of Microsoft we feel this is just the beginning for Lync’s success in helping people connect intuitively in our vision of productivity.

Google ushers in a new CEO with a new set of priorities
Now that Google no longer requires “adult supervision by the CEO”, the company’s new chief, Larry Page, has set Google on a course to compete and win at what they do best – advertising. Serving as Google’s biggest rival in the social media space, Facebook is a major target for the company. Like most CEO’s, Larry wasted no time in establishing his leadership team and top priorities. Their Enterprise Business is notably absent from both Larry’s “L Team” and Google’s list of key investment areas. This doesn’t surprise me since less than 1% of Google’s revenue comes from Google Apps.

The cloud may not be for everyone

Gartner Research recently noted that full cloud adoption will not take place until 2020 when 55% of the email and collaboration systems market will be hosted.  

We at Microsoft are incredibly excited by the capabilities the cloud enables, and we’re following through, moving customers to the cloud in droves. Yet at full market saturation, what happens to the other 45% of businesses that determine the cloud isn’t a viable option for them? The Los Angeles Police Department is a prime example. LAPD determined that Google "does not have the technical ability to comply with the city's security requirements" and that those requirements are "not currently compatible with cloud computing."  Customers with needs for a mix of on-premise and cloud solutions know one answer to “Why Microsoft?”