Google Docs, the cloud-based suite of productivity applications, is now widely used at one in five businesses—up from just 5 percent in 2007—according to preliminary data collected by market researcher IDC.
If the trend continues, IDC analyst Melissa Webster said, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and other online application vendors such as Zoho and ThinkFree could pose an interesting dilemma for Microsoft—not so much to the ubiquitous Office franchise but its own suite of on-demand collaborative applications.
“I think Microsoft needs to get in the game here before Google gains more momentum,” Webster said in an e-mail. “As the survey shows, we’re certainly seeing Google gaining momentum on the collaborative editing side. Google [also] has offline editing now with syncing, so it’s certainly trying to address the shortcomings of a SaaS-only solution.”
Webster’s full survey report will be released sometime in the next couple weeks. Of the 262 respondents, 19.5 percent said Google Docs are widely used in their organization and 25.2 percent of those surveyed said the applications will be widely used by this time next year.
Earlier this week, federal CIO Vivek Kundra outlined the Obama administration’s bold cloud-computing initiative designed to replace expensive and redundant information systems with Internet-enabled systems. Google and Microsoft are both hoping to play an integral role in the government’s IT makeover.
Last month, Google unveiled an aggressive billboard advertising campaign to evangelize its suite of cloud-based applications. Microsoft, which has already made its popular Exchange and SharePoint applications available on demand, plans to offer a cloud version of Office 2010 when it’s released early next year.
IDC’s survey found that while nearly 20 percent of those surveyed were using Google Docs, 97 percent were still using Office.
Webster said that while she doesn’t believe users will abandon Microsoft Office and use Google Docs exclusively, she does see a place for both in the enterprise.
“Google Docs has been filling a different and complementary need around collaborative editing,” she said. “Thinking longer term, however, collaboration in general is a very important area for Microsoft.”