Microsoft’s transformation from on-premise enterprise to global cloud omni-platform has CXO’s asking “Why not just use Microsoft?” As a former product manager (mid-2000’s) for enterprise #Infogov and #ediscovery products that delivered mature features and clear ROI it was easy to answer that question. Now that Microsoft’s portfolio seems to check every RFP feature box it is a much tougher question.

The pandemic forced corporations to upgrade to E3/E5 user licenses to support remote digital professionals. Beyond Teams/Yammer connectivity, these premium licenses include eDiscovery, Records Management, Classification and other functional suites that Microsoft partners provided. That free functionality leaves directors struggling to justify their familiar or preferred 3rd party point products that they have depended on or aspired to use.

Why don’t we all drive Toyota Corollas? After all, it checks the personal transportation boxes and had the top sales in 2021. The Corolla is a fabulous balance of features, value and dependability designed to appeal to the ‘average’ global consumer, just like Microsoft 365. So why do consumers have 450+ models to choose from?

Savvy consumers define and prioritize their requirements and usage cases before making any major purchase. Your daily commute, family size and weekend activities are pretty easy to translate into gas mileage, seats and hauling capacity. Defining your eDiscovery, #recordsmanagement, #security and other interdependent workflow requirements can be terribly complicated. The potential impact of subtly different functional/architectural approaches to the same feature can be hard to extrapolate or quantity.

That brings us back to “Why not just use Microsoft?” Microsoft has built/bought their portfolio to meet the most common usage scenarios for the global business and consumer marketplace. Where your scenarios and requirements align with the supported Microsoft workflows, you can indeed take advantage of those free modules. The Microsoft way may take a few more clicks or require some extra manual steps, but it was designed to meet the needs of the average customer. Are you average?

If you have talented internal/external IT support, you can essentially build custom workflows, apps and internal solutions to meet the requirements of more complex usage scenarios. This approach requires support and runs the risk of business interruption when Microsoft pushes out increasingly frequent infrastructure changes like where they store Teams meeting recordings.

The overwhelming majority of business communications and documents will be born and live within either Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. If you have complex regulatory, retention, eDiscovery or have developed highly competitive business scenario requirements you may need one of those Microsoft integrated partner solutions. The key will be defining your end state process/outcome and working back through the impact of feature approaches and limitations so that you can answer your CXO’s legitimate question with quantified risk, cost and overhead decision factors.

Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.

Greg’s blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment or advice. Greg is no longer a journalist and all perspectives are based on best public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being published. Do you want to share your own perspective? Greg is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations. 


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