Woolworths latest to dump Microsoft

Flexible, mobile solutions from Google win out over the old standby.

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Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) has become the latest corporation around the world to source alternative software solutions than those provided by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), choosing instead to opt for Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) software and hardware, such as Chromebox and Chromebook laptops.

Woolworths expects that the move will improve staff communications and increase collaboration. Furthermore, the mobility and security offered by Google played a vital role in the company’s decision to make the switch.

The shift will see the company move from using typical Windows tools such as Excel and Outlook, to alternatives like Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs and Calendar.

YouTube is another tool of Google’s that will be utilised under the new changes. Woolworths will hold its own private channel where it is expected that important messages will be communicated more efficiently and effectively.

However, with around 200,000 employees nationwide, Woolworths will take a cautious approach, electing to rollout the changes in three bouts. First, the system changes will affect around 25,000 staff, with 15,000 experiencing the change the following year. Depending on the success of those first two bouts, Woolworths will decide on how quickly and broadly to push the change.

Recent data shows that, with the release of smartphones and tablet devices, Microsoft has rapidly lost market share. In the March quarter, global shipments for laptops and desktops fell by 14% compared to the prior corresponding period, showing that consumers and businesses are largely looking for alternatives.

The change in trend can be largely attributed to the convenience and mobility that alternative products are offering. This was one of the main factors that helped Woolworths make the decision to switch, according to the company’s chief information officer, Daniel Beecham, who stated that “there was very strong staff feedback about the ease of use of the Google solution”.

This isn’t the only recent hardware change at Woolworths, who last year joined Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN) in switching from Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ: BBRY) Blackberry devices to Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone. Around this time, Woolworth’s managers were also each issued a new iPad.

Foolish takeaway

We are seeing massive changes made to stores and business structures as the competition between Woolworths and Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES) continues to heighten. Both eager to find areas to cut costs, gain competitive advantages and gain market share, we can certainly expect more and more changes to unravel.

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