Acceptance of Microsoft 365 in business environments: current state

Microsoft 365 is a comprehensive software suite that enjoys widespread adoption in businesses, thanks to its versatile applications, practical usability, and strong market presence. Nevertheless, numerous organizations discover that after a few months of implementation, these tools are either underutilized or not used effectively. Consequently, the expected return on investment (ROI) is not always achieved. This article aims to provide you with statistical data and an evaluation of the real-world acceptance of Office 365, while also examining the factors contributing to these shortcomings. 

Introduction of Office 365: These are the numbers

adoption microsoft 365

About ten years ago, Microsoft introduced the current subscription-based version of its Suite, now known as Office 365. This comprehensive suite encompasses various applications that address both the everyday and business needs of companies, including essential tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as newer web services such as OneDrive and Yammer.  As of 2019, the Office 365 suite had 155 million active users. In early 2020, the suite underwent a rebranding and became known as Microsoft 365.

According to a Forrester report, deploying Office 365 has the potential to yield a remarkable 162% return on investment over three years, provided that the suite is effectively utilized. The findings of the Microsoft 365 Report suggest that 88% of IT decision-makers have successfully implemented Microsoft 365 throughout their organizations. Additionally, an article from JDN (Journal du Net) indicates that 80% of French companies listed in the CAC40 index have embraced the suite. The primary reason behind this choice lies in the flexibility of the offering, which meets the complex requirements of organizations.

Nevertheless, it is important to approach these statistics with caution. The Microsoft report indicates that many companies have not fully embraced the software suite, particularly with regard to security measures. This raises the question: When can we consider a tool to be truly adopted? Is mere connectivity to Microsoft sufficient? In that case, 100% of users would be deemed adopters as they are connected to their emails.  However, genuine adoption is a more nuanced concept, occurring when the resulting transformation is tangible and substantial, such as the successful implementation of new collaborative work practices.

Usage of Office 365: The Most Popular Applications

utilisation office 365

When utilizing Office 365, it becomes apparent that despite its cloud integration, users still adhere to traditional practices like creating documents locally and sharing files via email. It would be reasonable for users to, at the very least, refrain from relying on emails for internal communication or document sharing. OneDrive provides the capability to generate secure sharing links. Consequently, users are not fully leveraging the suite’s strengths.

These were the most frequently used applications in the third quarter of 2019:

  • Outlook / Exchange: 59 %.
  • Teams: 41 %.
  • Skype Enterprise: 23 %.

It is evident that the genuinely collaborative applications are encountering difficulties in gaining widespread adoption. This can be attributed to the fact that many users are unaware of the applications they have access to (as indicated by the Microsoft 365 Report, 47%) and the advantages they offer.

ROI Office 365: Why is it struggling?

ROI office 365

The practical implementation of the Office 365 suite is not as smooth as companies would like to portray. Supporting statistics highlight this issue:

  • 34 % of users are resistant to change.
  • 47 % are unaware of the available applications.
  • 29 % lack time to undergo training.

To guide teams effectively, companies must continuously monitor their usage patterns.  However, this is precisely where the problem arises. Simply creating instructional guides to explain the functionality is insufficient. Scenarios need to be developed to demonstrate the collaborative software suite’s benefits and persuade users. A genuine internal transformation process is required, but only a few companies undertake it. They consider the deployment successful as long as users occasionally connect to email and a few applications. Unfortunately, this falls short of their ROI expectations, especially considering the 10% increase in license prices in 2019.

To improve the acceptance of Office 365, consider the following suggestions:

  • Position the suite at the core of the company’s digital transformation.
  • Involve management by setting objectives.
  • Encourage management to use the solutions themselves as an example.

While the quantitative adoption of Microsoft 365 is a reality, its qualitative adoption by users in companies is still suboptimal. Despite the suite’s documented qualities for secure collaborative work, it faces user-related barriers that hinder the digital transformation process within organizations.

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