Google Apps for Work vs. Office 365: A More Cultural Than Technical Choice


When Joe AbiDaoud, CIO of Hudbay Minerals , migrated his email platform from Exchange to Google’s cloud, and thus to Apps for Work, the message sent to employees was simple: “Use Google, Outlook will no longer be available”.

It was in 2012 and the reaction was more than icy.

“A lot of people hated the Google interface. They found it limited, difficult to use unsuited to find mails, “recalls Joe AbiDaoud. “There were lots of new ways of doing things, and it did not rain.”

This bad start did not improve. “Can you make Outlook? Has become a common refrain.

After two years, the IOC throws in the towel. Those who want to use Outlook will be able to use Outlook. But with a significant counterpart. No more having Google’s real-time collaboration tools, such as simultaneous, multi-document editing, or video chat from a document.

As a result, “when we opened the Outlook return plan to our 1,300 employees, about a dozen actually relocated it.”

What this story highlights about this competition at odds between Microsoft ( Office 365 ) and Google ( Apps for Works ) is that the choice is made on a cultural basis. There are those who want the comfort and reassurance of a proven and familiar suite, and those who want – immediately or over time – like at Hudbay Minerals – new ways of working. Whether with a different mail client, in the way of writing documents or organizing your day.

Shock of Titans

It’s a fact, companies are increasingly looking to outsource their collaboration tools (desktop, calendar, unified communications ). With SaaS , they seek a predictable cost, a priori lower, a better flexibility and the assurance of a continuity of activity.

But the market is still nascent. A 2016 study by Gartner shows that for email only 13% of listed companies use a Microsoft or Google Cloud Suite.

Office 365 barely reaches the 8% market share, when Google Apps for Work is below 5%. The remaining 87% is entirely on-premise or private cloud.

Fracture lines exist between types of companies (although they are not always so marked).

For Gartner analyst Guy Creese, Google Apps are popular with start-ups and SMBs, mainly for its clear pricing, simplified administration and lower cost. Conversely Office 365 seduces large groups.

The sectors also differ. Advertising, technology and media prefer Google Apps for Works. Highly regulated industries – banking, pharmaceuticals, energy – are more likely to use Office 365.

But this is obviously not always the case.

Four years ago, when Hudbay Minerals (a Canadian mining operator) evaluated the cloud options that came its way, the company was developing in South America. “We wanted a consistent user experience for all our employees, no matter where they would be,” says AbiDaoud. At that time, the choice of Google is obvious, Office 365 was still a limited Cloud suite and stammering.

The choice may be a little less clear today. The current success of Microsoft relies on a consistent improvement of the offer and massive investments from the publisher to catch up with its functional backwardness – in any case, the opinion of Guy Creese de Gartner .

Another factor, the popularity of the Cloud is growing. “It’s not so much that Microsoft takes customers from Google. It’s because his product has become good and is capturing a lot of the new users of the suites in cloud mode, “he analyzes.

Alumni award

Once the maturity reached for Office 365, the takeoff of Microsoft was predictable. Its numerous installed base testifies to a particular attachment to its office suite. This is even more true for professions such as lawyers writing agreements and contracts with Word, sending them to boards and retrieving annotated documents with highlights and deletions recorded in the Track Change. The big companies (which have armies of lawyers) that go to the Cloud do not want the radical change that the alternative of Google can induce.

“For them, moving to Office 365 is less disruptive from an administrative point of view than moving to something entirely new like Google Apps,” confirms Creese. Same story for the public sector where the habits are – too – hard to change. “Less municipal employees were used to Microsoft products. They used them for 20 or 30 years. When we decided to go to the cloud, we did not want to make the change and relearn our teams to use apps – we really did not want that, “illustrates in his own way Jonathan Reichental, DSI from the Californian city of Palo Alto.

But young people did not say their last word

However, in the United States, Google can claim a 50% market share on companies that achieve less than $ 50 million in sales. For Guy Creese, these companies appreciate the price of entry per user ($ 5 vs. $ 8.25 for Microsoft), the native capabilities of collaboration, sharing and editing documents, regardless of the location of the user at the moment T.

Some of these companies even experiment and use Google Docs to make and record minutes meetings and share them in stride. They also use video and Hangouts , natively embedded in Docs, to plan budgets. A process that, typically, is usually done with an Excel spreadsheet that passes from hand to hand and emails to mails for successive changes. This can generate different versions of the document and take days or even weeks to finalize the process.

“With the Google Sheets, it does not happen like that anymore,” says Guy Creese. “Instead, someone says,” Well, I think we should increase that by 10%. ” And someone else says, “No, I think +5 is fine.” In the Apps for Work version of the Google Spreadsheet you discuss directly from the spreadsheet with collaborators. It’s a lot simpler to say, “Okay, ok, we’re up to + 7%”. And it’s done, we move on. ”

At Hudbay Minerals, Joe AbiDaoud confirms that these work methods change a lot. ” Our employees use Hangouts all the time, for everything, on all their devices – PCs, smartphones, and meeting rooms.”

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