Office 365 beats Salesforce as most popular enterprise service in new survey

A new report from Okta shows businesses picking up Microsoft's office suite

Microsoft's Office 365 has passed Salesforce.com as the most popular service among companies that use Okta's device and identity management products, according to a new report released Thursday.

From November 2013 to June 2015, Microsoft went from being the fourth most popular service to passing Google Apps, Box and recently Salesforce.com to become the most-used app among the more than 2,500 companies that rely on Okta's services. Those businesses range from large enterprises like Intel to smaller firms with fewer than 250 people.

mostpopularenterpriseappsokta15 Okta
The most popular enterprise apps over time based on number of users

Unsurprisingly, 74 percent of large businesses with more than 4,000 employees run only Office 365, while just 50 percent of businesses with fewer than 250 employees subscribe only to Microsoft's office suite. It's most popular in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe.

Office 365 vs. Google Apps Okta
Percentage of businesses using Office 365 vs. Google Apps

The massive adoption of Microsoft's new Office services has been driven by companies that want to use Exchange Online, according to Okta Chief Product Officer Eric Berg.

"I would say my street knowledge tells me that predominantly people are buying Office 365 for hosted Exchange," he said.

In addition, Berg said that Microsoft has an advantage over other services like Google Apps because they don't have to retrain employees who are already familiar with using Office for tasks like sending and receiving email through Outlook.

He went on to say that businesses implementing Office 365 will likely be rolling it out to many more users than something like Salesforce, since it includes applications and services like email that are applicable to most if not all of the users in an enterprise compared to something like Salesforce that's tailored for one part of the organization.

slackvyammerbycustomer Okta
The number of customers using Office 365, HipChat, Slack, Yammer and Asana

While Office 365 is ascendant, those gains didn't translate into user growth for Yammer, the enterprise social networking service that Microsoft bundles with many editions of its office suite. That service's user growth flatlined over the past few months, even as other applications exploded in popularity.

Berg, a former director of product management at Microsoft, said that the company has added Yammer as a feature of many of its Office 365 plans to encourage adoption.

"I think what you see happening here in the data is that Yammer, as an entity, as a product, as a business has lost a lot of focus independently in pushing [itself]," Berg said. "And what they've been focused on is integrating into Office 365, and their bet is just as that hockey stick curve is going up on Office 365, that's at least going to get everybody who buys that exposure to Yammer. Whether or not they actually use it, that's another question."

While Yammer isn't showing massive gains, its quasi-competitor Slack has seen major adoption among Okta's users, with its customer base growing 50 percent between April 2015 and June 2015 alone. Customers who want to use Okta's tools with Slack have to pay for the service, to boot -- there could be an even larger population of companies out there who are choosing to just use its free tier and not integrate it with Okta.

Overall, Berg said that the potential for new companies to come in and release a product that takes the business world by storm depends on what market they plan on entering. The enterprise collaboration world is still open to new entrants, but it's going to be more difficult for other companies to shake Microsoft's dominance with Office 365.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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