On December 30, 2014, the Business Insider website published an article written by Julie Bort, titled Why An Ex-Microsoft Exec Chose Google Apps Over Microsoft’s Office 365 For His Startup. Bort’s article follows the form of a success story, much like the success stories Microsoft publishes on its web sites. But the success story presented by Bort’s article actually tells the story of the conversion of a once prominent executive at Microsoft, and his new business, over to the ranks of subscribers to Google Apps. Even worse, Rahul Sood (the former Microsoft manager of Microsoft Ventures) explains how his team considered subscribing to Office 365, before finalizing their decision, but decided to pass.
One wonders why Microsoft’s own PR effort hasn’t produced more of these articles: in other words, success stories written by writers not directly affiliated with Microsoft, and published on independent websites. As I just noted, Microsoft’s own websites present an extensive set of this content. But somehow the impact of an article like Bort’s is greater, especially given its title. As to the actual detail she presents, arguably, basing a decision on the email component of a suite of Office applications like Office 365 (or Google Apps) is not likely to be appealing to cloud, SaaS stakeholders from any organizations looking to move beyond email, and into one of the more collaborative and informative methods of exchanging data included with Office 365; for example, Yammer newsfeeds, or SharePoint Online Document Libraries and Lists.
But the detail doesn’t matter when the title, itself, amounts to news potentially embarrassing to Microsoft. There is no way to ensure once prominent Microsoft executives like Rahul Sood will continue to choose Microsoft’s own solutions. But there should be no impediment to the PR team at Microsoft looking for the same type of content (meaning ex-executives at Microsoft competitors opting for Microsoft solutions) to balance the public perception of just who is using Office 365.
The kind of content tracking capability implicit to Office 365’s Managed Metadata Service may not be important to a gaming startup like Sood’s. But any startup in a heavily regulated industry will likely pass on GMail as a principal method of exchanging data, anytime, and choose, instead SharePoint Online Document Libraries and Lists, if compliance reporting is a requirement for the business.
Ira Michael Blonder
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