Although it may not be as flashy or cutting edge as cloud services, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT), when it comes to getting work done in the enterprise, it is the productivity suite where much of the important business activity takes place. For most enterprises the default productivity suite of choice is Microsoft Office. In fact, according to the latest survey from Spiceworks, some 83% of the polled enterprises are using a version of Microsoft Office in their businesses.

It’s not surprising to find that so many enterprises are using Microsoft Office, but the breakdown of which Office versions are being used may raise some eyebrows. The survey results also show that Microsoft has grown its subscription-based Office 365 business considerably, but it further suggests that the transition to productivity software-as-a-service (SaaS) is just beginning.

SEE: 50 time-saving tips to speed your work in Microsoft Office (free TechRepublic PDF)

The Spiceworks survey

To get an idea of how enterprises have deployed productivity suites in their organizations, Spiceworks surveyed more than 1,100 information technology professionals in the United States, Canada, and the UK. The respondents were limited to IT pros with influence over technology purchase decisions for their respective enterprises.

The breakdown of which versions of Microsoft Office enterprises are using should be of concern to every security-minded IT pro. While the percentages reveal a mix of more than one version being used in most enterprises, there are still way too many enterprises using outdated Office versions. As you can see in Figure A, of the enterprises surveyed, there are still instances of Office 2007 (68%), Office 2003 (46%), Office XP (15%), Office 2000 (21%), and Office 97 (3%) being used in day-to-day operations.

That’s not only ill-advised from a network security perspective, but it could also be considered criminally negligent and irresponsible from a legal liability perspective. Those outdated versions of Office are not supported by Microsoft and most have not been for years. There is no defensible reason for any of those versions to be actively used in a modern enterprise. The additional liability risk alone should be enough to force a near-term transition to a modern productivity suite.

SEE: Four secrets of a successful Office 365 deployment (Tech Pro Research)

The enterprises still using outdated versions of Office are mostly midsize organizations with between 100 and 1,000 employees. Smaller enterprises are nimble enough to keep up to date and tend to adopt Office 365 in greater numbers, while large companies have the resources and the wherewithal to keep their productivity software updated. Midsize companies, on the other hand, are often operating with stretched budgets and tend to make do with what they have for as long as they can.

It is not the best management strategy, of course, but it is sadly all too common.

SEE: 4 steps to drive Microsoft Office 365 adoption in your organization (TechRepublic)

Bottom line

The good news for Microsoft, and for IT pros hoping for a more secure connected world, is that 17% of the surveyed enterprises are planning to transition to Office 365 in the next two years. Survey results like this confirm the viability of Microsoft’s mobile-first, cloud-first market strategy. SaaS supported by cloud-based services and cloud-based computational power is how most modern enterprises will access their productivity suites in the near future–the competitive advantages are just too great to ignore.

This is good news for Microsoft and other players in the market, and as the Spiceworks survey shows, the market for Office 365 and other SaaS products is huge and largely underdeveloped. Tapping into reluctant cash-challenged midsize enterprises is going to be Microsoft’s next key to growth and success.

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Your thoughts

Does your enterprise still use outdated and unsupported productivity software? Are you concerned about the risks? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.

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