Google has taken a potshot at Microsoft, something it does occasionally, using a survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies — and paid for by its own cloud business — to ventilate the concerns of government users who are mostly locked into a Microsoft environment.
A blog post, written by Jeanette Manfra Google’s senior director, Global Risk and Compliance, on 1 April — though certainly not a joke — said the survey found a majority of government employees were “very” concerned about cyber attacks striking their employers in the coming years.
Wrote Manfra: “And nearly one-third of surveyed government employees in the [Washington] DC metro area say they have experienced a disruption at work because of a cyber attack.”
The survey covered 2600 employees, including 600 in the DC area and 338 from all levels of government across the country.
Manfra has worked in government ranks prior to joining Google; she is well remembered from 2017 as one official who told Congress she had not seen any evidence of Kaspersky software being exploited to infiltrate US government systems.
This happened during the years when the government was going after Kaspersky following the presidential elections of 2016, after claims that Russia had interfered to influence things the way of Donald Trump began to gain traction.
Manfra said in the blog post that the survey showed “a lack of satisfaction with legacy software, with more than 50% of government workers nationally responding that there are other products and services that could help them do their jobs better”.
She did not shy away from mentioning Microsoft by name either, pointing out the “problems with IT monoculture” and stating: “According to survey respondents, 84% of DC metro government employees primarily use Microsoft products at work, including Word, Outlook, Teams, and OneDrive. This is confirmed by another recent study by Omdia that found 85% of government employees use Microsoft productivity software, far and away the largest IT productivity vendor by market share.”
Manfra said the continued use of Microsoft products was due to laziness on the part of the government. “Given these vulnerabilities, why does government IT continue to rely on the same set of productivity tools in the workplace? The reason, according to survey respondents, has more to do with inertia than innovation.
“When asked why their employers used Microsoft services, around half said that the reason their employer continues to choose legacy, incumbent vendors was more about not wanting to change than wanting the most effective tool for the job.”
Manfra said: “Coupled with these concerns about vulnerabilities comes a noted sentiment among those surveyed that their current IT solutions are not best for their needs.
“About half of those surveyed who primarily use Microsoft at work said that they would prefer to have a choice to use products and services from other companies. And among those who use Microsoft at work, 43% believe there are other products and services that would allow them to do their job better.”
And she very gently reminded those in power that there are “other” products which can do the job as well — or maybe better — than Microsoft’s products.
“With so many survey respondents reporting that they are dissatisfied with their legacy IT solutions, it may be time for the government to rethink its approach to procurement,” Manfra wrote.
“In a separate research survey from Omdia in December 2021, 250 people responsible for technology purchasing decisions in the US federal, state, and local governments said government technology and procurement practices often are more about making things easier for IT vs choosing what employees feel would be the best solution.
“In fact, only 27% of officials surveyed in that research cited ‘user demand’ as a factor affecting their purchasing decisions.
“As governments work to meet the demands and preferences of their constituents — and their employees — it’s clear that there’s an over-reliance on legacy solutions, despite a track record of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and poor user perception.”
Microsoft was approached for its take on Manfra’s statements, but the Redmond behemoth has apparently decided to sit this one out.