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Google trumps Microsoft in Pearson’s cloud app offering to 40,000 staff

22 May 2013
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Publishing and education company Pearson has taken a unique approach to the ongoing enterprise cloud apps battle between Microsoft and Google: it is offering its 40,000-strong workforce the choice of either.

Pearson owns several well-known brands, including the Financial Times Group, the Penguin Group and Pearson Education, and its IT team serves staff in over 1,000 locations worldwide. 

The firm has overhauled its IT estate from Microsoft Office 2003 in the past two years, in order to ensure it maintained relevance with the new ways of working that its staff were embracing.

After evaluation it decided to offer its business units a choice of either Google or Microsoft Office applications, integrated together so they could be used between business units on a single platform, managed by the IT team.

To date 33,000 staff from just over 40,000 have been migrated to this new platform and Google’s services have been the overwhelming favourite, securing around 80 percent use over Microsoft’s offerings.

Graham Calder, chief technology officer for global platforms and services at Pearson, said numerous aspects of the Google technology have proved enticing to business units.

“We didn’t recommend what people chose, but it’s been interesting to see most have moved to Google after assessing the offering” he said. “There were a couple of swing factors that we’ve seen. One was cost, but another factor was the ability to transform the way people could work.”

One feature in this area of Google’s offerings – its video collaboration tool Hangouts – has been particularly popular. “Hangouts have gone viral. You rarely see people doing voice calls you just see Hangouts. They love the collaboration,” explained Calder.

Calder also said the firm is fully committed to a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy supporting all major platforms, although only two are used to any real extent. “Our primary base for BYOD is iOS, but the Android base has risen incredibly fast over the last year or so.”

[Update]: Since this story went live several members of Pearson’s workforce have voiced dissatisfaction with the push to Google services (as the comments below show). Many claiming they are unhappy with the new offerings, with most claiming the choice of Google was taken by business unit heads with no real understand of what staff need from the services.

“We are left with a seriously sub par product, having wasted millions, most of which went to consultants, and huge data security issues now we're stuck on Google and it's flawed, unsecure products,” wrote one.

Another voiced their wish Microsoft was still in use: “In discussions with employees, most still wish we went with Microsoft, especially in the US. The general feeling is that Google was chosen at the highest levels and forced upon the masses. We got Screwgoogled.”

Another clarified their frustration with what they see as a lack of understanding from upper management about how the services are actually used by staff: “It was purely driven by money, those right at the top, just a few people, who are too important to even check their own email or make calendar appointments making a decision based on nothing but money which has impacted the ability of us to do our jobs.”

V3 contacted Google and Pearson for comment on the issues raised by the comments but had received no reply at the time of publication. We will update this article if we received any response.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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