Disruptive Technology: Tame the Microsoft Gorilla One Google at a Time

Scott Braden
Aug. 11,2015 |


Gorillas.  They can be cute and seem cuddly from a distance, but up close they are probably more scary and intimidating.  There’s little doubt that Microsoft is the 800 pound gorilla in the desktop productivity market.  The real question is, how do you get away from the gorilla when you’re trapped in its domain?  Everywhere you turn…there it is, blocking your escape.  Door number 1 is blocked by the CIO who’s not a ‘change agent’.  Door number 2 is blocked by the groups who don’t ‘want their cheese moved’.  Doors number 3 and 4 aren’t even blocked…they are wide open and they have a Google or Amazon logo on them.  But you’re not so sure about running through those doors as you’re not entirely sure what’s on theother side.  Next thing you know, you’re just giving the gorilla more bananas (by the truckload) and feeling really bad about it.

Here’s the good news…there are more disruptive technology options today than ever before to implement solid, feature rich alternatives to Microsoft that can deliver more value at a lower cost (i.e. Doors #3 and #4).  The question is really not ‘are there really options’, but ‘what options are right for us and how do we start’.  Let’s look at Google as an example.

First, we need to dispense with some myths around Google as an alternative to Microsoft:

  • Myth #1:  Google is just email and docs
    • FALSE - Google’s feature set today matches up nicely with Microsoft’s.  When you compare the ‘brochure’ – the checkmarks for both are pretty equal now.  You may need to start educating the masses – including Sr. Management on how far Google have come.
  • Myth #2:  Its all or nothing
    • FALSE – Innovative and transformative companies today have BOTH.  While Google could, in many cases, replace the entire stack, there are niches to plug Google in and take advantage of their strengths to benefit the organization.
  • Myth #3:  There is no competitive advantage for our organization to use both
    • FALSE - There is tremendous competitive advantage in using them together in both lowering cost and improving customer experience (internal and external).
  • Myth #4:  The user experience will change for the worse
    • FALSE - The user experience will change, no doubts.  And while this can be a big ask in many companies, change has to start somewhere.  Educating the troops that change is not always bad, just different – can go a long way in adoption.
  • Myth #5:  Microsoft knows we won’t/can’t/aren’t capable of changing
    • FALSE – Did you know Microsoft mentions Google (among others) over 10 times in its 2014 annual report - usually in the context of ‘competition’?  This is not gratuitous.  They are mentioned because the threat is real as are the competitive capabilities.  What you need is a program for change.
  • Myth #6:  Google doesn’t negotiate pricing or features
    • FALSE – They can and do when you have real leverage to use (i.e. Microsoft).

You may be thinking…it’s easy to debunk the myth in written form, but how do we actually implement that kind of change?  Here are two ways to get started immediately:

Dedicate resources.  Put together a small band of change agents within IT and charge them with the task of looking for disruptive technologies.  These folks need to be able to think outside the box and be willing to challenge the status quo of what’s already in place (i.e. have an open mind).  Ideally, a budgeted resource dedicated to this effort will pay the most dividends.  Our direct experiences in working with clients has demonstrated that budgets allocated for this purpose returns over 4x in direct savings and benefits provided by new solutions.

Active testing.  Whether it’s a team or someone going solo, testing alternatives in your working environment is critical.  Find a small organization, region, or team within the company that is willing to work with you on a ‘beta project’.  Only real testing will give you the feedback and results needed to develop viable alternatives to any major supplier.

How often do you think Microsoft has heard various forms of this phrase?

“Well, if we can’t come to terms, we’ll just move to Google.”

Now, how often do you think they take it seriously?  From firsthand experience we can tell you Microsoft only takes this threat seriously when organizations can say:

  • We have a team that’s been looking at alternatives for some time now
  • We’ve been testing Google (or other) solutions in our working environment
  • We have a capability matrix on both the Google and Microsoft stacks as it pertains to our needs, and have results based on testing to that matrix

Recently, I worked directly with a large healthcare provider where we did much of the above and realized a 60% reduction on Microsoft Office 365 costs, by implementing Google.  By introducing Google to a small segment of the company in a specific region, we found that it was a perfect match for their needs.  In addition to a great feature fit, it was lower cost and easier to manage.  We were also able to negotiate additional benefits from Google around training and services at low or no cost – as they were willing to go the extra mile.  In the end, we 1) looked for alternatives 2) tested some options 3) validated a new solution 4) executed it for realization of savings and benefits.  This was a WIN-WIN for everyone – except the gorilla.

The benefits are clear with companies that have serious programs around researching, testing, and implementing alternative technology solutions:

  • Leads to lower cost structure with existing supplier
  • Incentive for existing supplier to provide more value add services
  • Alternative suppliers willing to go the extra mile and provide more benefits and value
  • Real leverage in your favor by creating a fair and open competitive environment
  • The savings gained with just one alternative supplier, can create a positive return on your investments to review options for all areas of technology spend

“There is Google, Amazon, and us. But who has the credentials with the enterprise?”

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella – Fortune interview, May 4th, 2015

Time to build your own credentials.  Microsoft relies on the fact that you won’t seriously work with an alternative, and gives you pricing and services that reflect that.  Start today – put a resource on it or build a team to do it.  Its time to tame the gorilla and keep more of your bananas.  No one expects you to jump through various doors blindly, but with careful consideration and measured reviews and testing, you’ll drive value and benefits you never thought possible.  Contact us today to learn more on how to find alternative suppliers through our WIN(win) platform and or discuss your environment with a NET(net ) subject matter expert.


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