Originally Posted by snova
I tend to agree with this. Most IT departments have a standard install set (or images) on all machines. Regardless if and how often the tools will get used by each specific employee. This allows various departments to compose documents in a format that they know everyone can read
. How often someone is required to compose
depends on their role. Which is a "don't care" form an IT point of view. For most IT departments, I think it would create too much headache to try to determine who actually needs Office composition tools vs Read-Only tools to save some dollars here to justify custom installs.
I could go on for days about this topic because this is one of my core skill sets and it is also an area of interest. Fundamentally speaking, image management is one of the reasons for including Office by default in Windows images. But this stems from how much or how little IT understands business roles and use cases. Most IT shops have limited insight into the operations for the businesses they support. They also strive to provide service options that can scale.
For example, deploying an image without Office may work for one user but if anyone else needs to use the same system, they may need Office. As a result, that user will be less productive on that resource or they will ask for Office anyway. Either way, resources utilization is increased by not including Office on that machine to begin with. For many businesses, not including Office can actually cost more in lost productivity, poor end user feedback and increased support.
With that said, Office is much more than a native suite of applications. There are virtual installation packages supported directly through Office 365 that look and behave like native installed applications but they are sandboxed applications that can follow a user from system to system. There are also Office web applications that are accessible through cloud service offerings that include editing capabilities.
Where an organization is able to rationalize user roles to those where Office web apps are adequate AND end user communications are properly initiated with leadership support, an organization can limit their license profile accordingly. The key distinction is relative to user, group and role rationalization combined with executive support. Obtaining that kind of information is difficult. Maintaining it is even more difficult. But that will always be the case when attempting to rationalize an enterprise environment to provide dynamic service delivery.
Office file compatibility is certainly a factor but more so, most enterprises have a huge catalog of custom developed macros, VBA and databases that depend on Office. Many of these are critical to business operations. Arguably, critical business functions shouldn't be tied up in one off Office code through linked spreadsheets but it is common anyway. Office is an extensible platform that businesses have taken advantage of. Where business continuity is the end goal, you don't simply remove Office from the enterprise.
Office, as an endpoint application suite is only as good as the back end. While many consumers may not use an Office back end, the enterprise is heavily invested. This includes everything from Exchange Server to SharePoint with other solutions on the fringe like Project Server. 30 minutes every day as an average for email is probably about right. As a pitch for Google Apps for Business, they fail to mention how critical that is because Exchange is the undeniable standard. If you don't want the CTO to show up at your cubicle, make sure that Exchange never goes down.
Office file compatibility is inherently linked to collaboration and utilizing features that allow for increased scale and options for collaboration depend upon the latest Office suite. Microsoft releases Office file compatibility packs for legacy versions of Office to deal with intra-organizational file compatibility but collaboration through Sharepoint is another matter altogether. Office file templates is another matter. Office suites do very well with using alot of the same collateral without redeveloping it unless it uses custom code. Competitors simply do not have the same features so the level of effort is higher to move to another suite and quality is likely to be less when it uses advanced formatting options.
Office does support saving files in an open document format in version(s) 2010 and 2013 if memory serves but I haven't seen many organizations use it as a default because it is more limited. Some areas where Office has dramatically improved in newer versions is related to Office file sizes. Office 2013 file sizes are half what they were for Office 2010. That may seem like a minor enhancement but it can pay big dividends in terms of enterprise storage. Other advancements associated with the 2013 suite include pivot tables.
The enterprise and Microsoft Office are intertwined in ways that would take years to fully understand for the casual observer. While there are alternative productivity suites available, most enterprises would have little incentive to move over to them. Many that do end up using Office on the desktop anyway because web alternatives simply don't meet their business needs. They may be subscribing to Google Apps but they are using Microsoft Office extensively. In some cases, they go back to just using file shares instead of Google Docs storage because of limited compatibility.
There is the matter of value assessment. This study assumes that certain actions can be equated to, "light editing" and that viewing documents are of little importance and complexity. They further assume that these tasks are of less importance for business critical tasks than others. IT rarely positions themselves as the arbitrator to assess value on the part of the business and frankly, they shouldn't. If the usage in most enterprises is a 70/30 split between, "light" usage and, "heavy" usage, there is still a common denominator; USAGE. If anyone is using it, it provides value to the business. Using an alternative MAY result in license cost savings but it could also impact productivity through training, file format conversions or redevelopment and collaboration.
There is the matter of management. Office has extensive management features built into it with an excellent support model from Microsoft. IT places a premium on scale and management features and they should. Many aspects of the Office suite can be customized through the package and through Group Policy. That includes enterprise search, features and most importantly, SECURITY.
When properly implemented, Office can run VBA and macros without user invention for approved and managed resources while retaining a high level of security for unknown or unmanaged sources. Being able to deploy App-V packages with user device affinity and provide access to Office Web applications increases the value even more. One cannot underestimate the value for mitigating security threats through on-going patch support as well.
For competitors, the value for the Office suite, as a whole, is out of reach in the enterprise. For IT organizations, the risk for adopting an alternative is very high and the ROI for using an alternative is debatable at best. Using licensing and overly simplistic assumptions for usage is two dimensional. The service they provide, in and of itself, is almost laughable. Microsoft provides countless tools for gauging usage for Office. That also includes office file compatibility reporting as well.
This kind of data can valuable but only when it is in the context of how the business operates. Light usage can equate to heavy usage in an alternative suite because it is more difficult to use or because it has fewer features. Light usage can also be critical to business operations with countless other dependencies. It might work for smaller organizations or even very large ones but it is multi-dimensional. At best, these results are tailored to favor their sales partnership with Google. It is in their best interest to make sure that their analytics increase sales. Naturally, the best way to do that is by using overly simplistic algorithms to associate value to usage and that is inherently flawed for many reasons.