Creating a digital workplace is an agenda item on every CIO’s or CTO’s list within the Enterprise. The digital workplace is all about growing both employee and customer engagement. Organizations can do that by practicing an agile, collaborative culture, streamlining their business processes and integrating key technology platforms. For any organization, regardless of their size, addressing basic employee productivity needs is essential to any digital workplace strategy.

With all the noise around productivity and collaboration tools, we uncover the pros, cons and overlapping functionality of some of the most widely used cloud-based employee productivity platforms –Microsoft Office 365 and Google Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work). 


Are you evaluating one provider over another? Are you using these solutions in combination with other 3rd party applications and considering expansion/upgrades? If so, the content below will assist in deciding which platform is best suited for your organization.

In a recent 2016 Gartner CIO survey of 2,944 CIOs across 84 countries, there was a reported $250 billion potential in IT spending. One of the key insights of the report focused on harnessing the power of platforms as digital deepens. It further highlights:

“As digitalization moves from an innovative trend to a core competency, enterprises need to understand and exploit platform effects throughout all aspects of their businesses. Not doing so will threaten their ability to: deliver; attract and retain talent; and have their products/services perceived as value-adding by customers.”

This IT spending also includes platforms within an Enterprise to power employee productivity and collaboration. Enterprise organizations, regardless of their size, uses anywhere between 10 and 16 apps for daily productivity, as per Okta’s Business @ Work report.

The market is flooded with many single feature tools (best-of-breed) as well as full-blown Enterprise platforms to help you organize your work, collaborate with team members and communicate efficiently. But here, we wanted to focus on platforms with high user growth within the Enterprise or in organizations where employees are spread across multiple offices around the world. This article will not cover task management on a small scale, but rather look into the fastest growing, large scale Enterprise productivity platforms, which unify both internal and external users.


Microsoft Office 365 (The Behemoth)

An Enterprise-grade platform built for large teams and networks.

Office 365 Suite of Products

(varies based on Office 365 plans) 

  • Office 365 Email, Calendar & Tasks (powered by Exchange Online)
  • Yammer
  • Office 365 Groups
  • Skype for Business
  • SharePoint Sites
  • OneDrive for Business
  • Office Online (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)
  • Office for Desktop (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Planner
  • Delve

Microsoft O365 growth 

According to a Yahoo Finance article in April 2016, Microsoft reported over 20 million Office 365 subscribers. They have estimated to reach $20 billion by 2018 across their Commercial Cloud business - Office 365, Dynamics CRM and Azure.

In addition to the apps above, over the past few months, Microsoft has added many productivity apps (in Public or Private preview) on Office 365 such as PowerBI, Power Apps, Connectors, Sway, Gigjam etc. This shows Microsoft's commitment to making Office 365 a unified platform for the Enterprise. Microsoft has been responsive to changing market landscape as well and recently launched Microsoft Teams to address the growing competition with Slack. We also wrote an article comparing the two applications.


Why organizations like Microsoft Office 365

  • Long history of Windows desktop users now also adopting integrated online tools by Microsoft
  • Enterprise active directory users over Windows network
  • Millions of Office desktop users now have seamless integration between best of both offline and online technologies
  • Deployment options – Cloud, on-prem or Hybrid  
  • Microsoft Azure powered infrastructure, developer services, and APIs
  • Ability to bundle per user cost of both desktop and online products
  • Better user experience for widely used Windows Operating System machines

Areas to consider with Microsoft Office 365 implementations 

  • Prone to content chaos – Some applications in Office 365 have similar functionality around content collaboration, messaging etc. For example, within Yammer, users can use conversations (like messaging), add notes, upload/edit/follow files to collaborate on a project within a group (project team). But, you can do the same with Outlook Groups (email based project conversation) by using OneNote, Files etc. Both applications use Office Online for editing documents but have differences in calendar/events feature, mobile app experience and 3rd party app connections.
  • Security policies – Office 365 administrator must review and establish security policies around sharing content, inviting external users across various applications. Office 365 offers extensive options in this area and policies not well communicated could hinder employee productivity, disrupt collaboration and affect user adoption.
  • Cross-platform and mobility issues – Office 365 native apps across many devices for some applications are still in its infancy. It needs improvement in speed, features, and unified experience.
  • External collaboration is full of friction – Given our experience with Microsoft’s suite of products, there needs to be a simple, unified approach to collaborating with external Enterprise users. Currently, the process to invite external users has different methods and (often overlooked) options for each O365 application. The steps are cumbersome and expose users to information risk.  For instance, one option allows you to send an invite to any e-mail but requires the user to create a Microsoft account. Alternatively, when an external recipient already has an O365 account, the email invitation is confusing.
Office 365 offers multiple business plans and pricing.

Looking to migrate from on-prem infrastructure to Microsoft's Office 365 Cloud?

Learn more

Ask about our shift & lift package and how Nonlinear helps teams get started with Office 365.



G Suite by Google Cloud (The Challenger)

*Formerly Google Apps for Work 

A suite of pioneering cloud-based productivity tools. Enabling millions of people to work the way they choose, G Suite helps teams move faster, grow quicker, and work better together, from wherever.

G Suite Products

  • Gmail (Business Email & Calendar)
  • Hangouts
  • Drive
  • Collaborate - Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides
  • Google Sites
  • Google Groups
  • Google +

G Suite growth 

The G Suite Website states that over 5 million businesses have made their move to G Suite including many Fortune 500 companies (image 1). They also gained a huge growth across Google for Education users with over 60 million users across 190 countries (image 2). Google also recently announced the integration of machine learning technology with their G Suite products

G Suite

Image 1: G Suite by Google Homepage

Google for Education

Image 2: Google for Education Homepage

Google's Success Secret

  • Focus on lean Enterprise with minimal IT infrastructure and teams spread across many offices, flexible working locations etc.
  • Completely hosted, online only infrastructure. Lower internal IT costs compared to a similar Microsoft based solution.
  • New features as and when they are available. No conflicts between desktop versus online versions of the application.
  • Mature and unified cross-platform mobile experience.
  • A huge ecosystem of 3rd party apps via Google Apps Marketplace.

Areas to consider with G Suite implementations

  • Desktop versus Online only – if your organization has users primarily working on desktop software like Microsoft Office, then at times you will find some compatibility issues with different document types. When files created within full-featured desktop applications are uploaded to Google Docs online, users might face simple cosmetic issues. There have been many improvements by Google within this area but don’t expect advance Excel formulas or graphics/fonts to work as-is between online Google Sheets, Slides and desktop Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. In our experience with Google apps, many users only work in online versions to reduce frustration and improve their productivity. As a bonus, when users sync online-only Google docs with local hard drives, it does not use any hard drive storage unless users explicitly downloads an offline version of the document.
  • Security and Administration – G Suite is constantly challenged in this area because initially Google did not offer as many security management features for IT administrators from within the management console. This area must be carefully investigated to ensure it covers individual Enterprise needs. Google has made huge progress in this area with offerings dedicated to Government and Education.

See G Suite's simple pricing.


Looking to integrate G Suite with line of business applications?

Contact Us

Let's talk what's next.

How CIOs & CTOs can improve user productivity within their Enterprise

Digital workplaces are the key to successful productivity and collaboration solutions. Enterprise users require fast, relevant and integrated flow of information. 

Here are some areas which Enterprise Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) must consider improving to increase overall user productivity within their Enterprise.


  • Cross platform or devices – offer unified experience across devices and allow users the ability to use the device of their choice.
  • Real-time messaging -  security features like end-to-end encryption and auto-expiry can help reduce email traffic.
  • Document sharing and collaboration – offline and online syncing across devices with easy to adopt user management
  • Simplified, robust Application Programming Interface (API) - for seamless 3rd party integrations and custom Enterprise application development.
  • User-centric, task driven collaboration – enhance users’ ability to swiftly perform critical tasks and allows them to see how their contribution fits the overall organization (or department, team) objectives.
  • Drive participation and knowledge sharing – involves executives to share knowledge, engage in conversations around organizational goals, performance metrics, celebrate wins, acknowledge employees, discuss cultural and market changes to drive employee participation at all levels.
  • Contextual content discovery – using artificial intelligence, uncover relevant content based on user interests and behavior to grow adoption.
  • Continuous balanced governance – define ownership of content, type of information and establish simple measures of success.

Regardless of the size of an organization, every digital workplace solution within an Enterprise must always be evolving. There is no one size fits all type of solutions and the above simple guidelines can be set as the basis for a good start.

Our recommendation is to set a vision for an agile solution which can adapt to changing needs, allows room for changes and learn from what is working and where you need to improve.


Top Enterprise Productivity & Collaboration Platforms: A Decision-Making Cheat Sheet

Start your journey to a digital workplace on the right foot with this side-by-side comparison of O365 and G Suite.

Features Matrix

 

Microsoft Office 365

G Suite by Google Cloud

Communication

Real-time Messaging (Private, Group or Global)

Skype for Business

Hangouts

Microsoft Teams (Internal only as of now)

 

Announcements, Discussions

Outlook Groups

Google Groups

Yammer

Google +

Sites (SharePoint)

Google Sites

Groups, Channels, Communities (internal or External)

Outlook Groups

Google Groups

Yammer

Google +

Microsoft Teams (Internal only as of now)

 

Voice Calls

Skype for Business

Hangouts

Microsoft Teams (powered by Skype)

 

Video Calls

Skype for Business

Hangouts

Microsoft Teams (powered by Skype)

 

Screen Sharing

Skype for Business

Hangouts

Microsoft Teams (powered by Skype)

 

Content & Files Management

Content Management

Sites (SharePoint)

Google Sites

File Storage & Sync

Outlook Groups

Google Groups

SharePoint Document Libraries (powered by OneDrive for Business)

Google Sites - Files (powered by Google Drive)

OneDrive for Business

Google Drive

File Editing

Office Online

Google Docs, Sheets, Slides

Office for Desktop

 

File Sharing

Skype for Business

Hangouts

Outlook Groups

Google Groups

SharePoint Document Libraries (powered by OneDrive for Business)

Google Sites - Files (powered by Google Drive)

OneDrive for Business

Google Drive

Yammer

Google + (currently, limited to Photos, Videos)

Team Collaboration & Productivity

Notes App

OneNote

 

Outlook Groups (powered by OneNote)

 

Microsoft Teams (powered by OneNote)

 

Task App

Outlook Tasks

Gmail Tasks

Planner

Google Keep

Mobility - Native Apps

iOS

Microsoft Word

Google Docs

Microsoft Excel

Google Sheets

Microsoft Outlook

Gmail, Calendar & Keep

Microsoft OneDrive for Business

Google Drive

Microsoft PowerPoint

Google Slides

Skype for Business

Hangouts

Yammer

Google +

Microsoft OneNote

 

Office 365 Admin

 

Outlook Groups

 

Microsoft SharePoint

 

Office Delve for Office 365

 

Microsoft Teams

 

Android

Microsoft Word

Google Docs

Microsoft Excel

Google Sheets

Microsoft Outlook

Gmail, Calendar & Keep

Microsoft OneDrive for Business

Google Drive

Microsoft PowerPoint

Google Slides

Skype for Business

Hangouts

Yammer

Google +

Microsoft OneNote

 

Office 365 Admin

 

Outlook Groups

 

Microsoft SharePoint

 

Office Delve for Office 365

 

Microsoft Teams

 


comments powered by Disqus