How do Google business collaboration tools compare with Office 365?

Google's enterprise collaboration suite offers organizations an array of cloud collaboration tools. But it faces tough competition from the market leader, Microsoft Office 365.

Google has a long way to go to catch up with Microsoft in the business collaboration tools market. Microsoft has a decadeslong head start, and most of the business collaboration market remains desktop-based. But the cloud is gaining momentum, and that does play in Google's favor.

This momentum has led Microsoft to pivot to the cloud with Office 365 and counter other disruptors from the cloud world, such as Slack and Facebook. The market is becoming fragmented with new players, along with the fluid nature of what business collaboration tools actually entail. 

When looking at Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 business collaboration tools, two basic comparison points emerge:

Not quite apples to apples. Microsoft Office 365 is a highly mature suite of business collaboration tools that are near-universal. Their familiarity and ubiquity are key reasons why employees keep using them. Users are comfortable with the desktop environment, and they know how to get work done with these applications. This status quo will be hard to displace, especially since the applications in Google G Suite -- such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets and Slides -- are not identical to Office. Employees would really need a good reason to change. Cost is one reason for change, and Google is aggressively pushing this driver to build more traction, especially with enterprises.

Enterprises are optimized around the desktop. IT has built considerable expertise to support all things Microsoft. Think about help desk support so employees can enhance their abilities to use Office 365, or technical support for addressing problems on the desktop, upgrades and integrations with new applications. Cloud-based Google has not been part of the IT ecosystem, which is a key reason why G Suite has made limited inroads with enterprises.

In addition, data sovereignty is another key difference with these business collaboration tools in an IT ecosystem. While data sovereignty can be assured with premises-based Office, Google G Suite cannot do the same, since it's in the cloud. A lack of data sovereignty will be problematic in highly regulated vertical markets, such as finance or healthcare.

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